Summer days are waning and most college students who were lucky to land a summer job have either completed their work or are close to doing so. While you may already be preoccupied with your fall schedule and plans for the semester, here are some tips for making sure that you end your time at work in a positive, mature and productive manner:
Connect with your boss and other colleagues on LinkedIn - Hopefully you worked hard to make a great impression and add value at your job this summer. Maintaining the positive professional relationships you established with your boss and others with whom you worked can prove invaluable when you seek full-time employment. Also, by connecting with your co-workers, you gain access to their networks on LinkedIn, broadening your ability to network with professionals at other companies.
Make the effort to say “Thank you” - Saying thank you is never a wasted effort. Thank anyone at your workplace who took the time to train and mentor you this summer. Tell them what a difference their support made in your ability to contribute, learn and grow during the internship (if you’ve already left your job, you can always send a thank you email). If there was someone who helped you land the job, be sure to thank them personally for the opportunity and tell them what you got out of it. Doing so will not only make them feel good about advocating for you but will potentially provide them with the motivation to do it again in the future.
Provide closure on your work - If someone else is taking over any projects on which you were working, offer to train that person, document where you left off in a closing memo, and/or offer your availability after you leave to speak on the phone and answer any questions. By doing so, you communicate your desire to help the organization make a smooth transition and minimize any loss in productivity upon your departure.
Ask for recommendations - If you’re confident that your manager and others were happy with you and the quality of your work, don’t be afraid to ask them if they are willing to give you a strong recommendation letter or serve as a reference for a potential future employer. Doing so at the end of, or immediately after, your summer job is ideal as your work and impact will be fresh in their mind.
Stay professional until the end - Your job/internship may end with a send-off event, especially if the organization has brought in a group of interns. My strong words of advice are, do not drink alcohol at any exit event, even if company employees who are of age are drinking. Alcohol can loosen inhibitions and can result in you saying or doing things that can ruin the great impression you made all summer long. It’s truly just not worth it.
Update your resume and LinkedIn profile - You may have worked on a variety of projects over the summer. The time to document what you did on your resume and LinkedIn profile is NOW! Four months from now, when tests and papers are priorities and the summer is a distant memory, it will be much harder to remember the important details of your work.
Allocate time for introspection - Now that your summer job has ended, take some time for quiet contemplation of what you personally learned from this experience. What kinds of work did you enjoy the most? What tasks were a struggle for you? When others gave you constructive feedback, were you able to really listen and improve or did you get defensive and shut down? Did you experience moments of “flow” where the hours seemed to just fly by or was each day a grind? Maybe you loved the creative work or found that digging deep into research was fulfilling. Perhaps coordinating many projects at once was easier than you thought or you found it overwhelming. Hopefully you learned what you love to do and were able to identify what you’d never want to do again. Were you were brave enough to take some personal risks and try things outside your comfort zone? Taking the time to think about these considerations will help you better evaluate future career possibilities and will ensure that your next work experience will be even better.
Hopefully your summer job provided you with lots of opportunities for personal and professional growth. Don’t lose the opportunity to close strong!