Congratulations, you’re nearing the end of your internship! You’ve successfully got one toe in the door of Hollywood, but in order to get the whole foot through, you need to make sure the connections you’ve built this semester stay strong. If you leave a great impression on your internship supervisor and other employees at the company, you’ll have an easier time relying on those contacts when you apply for jobs in the future.
So, how can you stand out among the myriad of other interns who’ve worked for your company? Here are a few ideas:
Bring in a “goodbye" gift.
Bribing a future employer with donuts isn’t a good idea, but handing out tasteful goodies to your internship supervisor and their department as a parting gift is a great one. It shows your gratitude for the learning experience you just had and will help you stand out. You don’t have to get fancy (definitely don't do anything over the top), but put some thought into it. We've received several particularly memorable gifts over the years -- a few notable ones include Rice Krispies Treats decorated like characters from the company’s shows, special popcorn from the boss’s hometown, and artisan olive oil gift sets -- and we haven't forgotten the interns they came from. A little bit of extra effort goes a long way.
Write thank you notes.
Hand out or mail handwritten thank you notes to your supervisor, the team you worked with, and anyone who met with you for an informational interview or offered you help in some way. Gifts are great for the people you worked with the most, but a thank you note allows you to express gratitude to more people -- aka more contacts. These thank you notes should be a little more personal than your typical email, but be sure to keep them professional.
Finish your work.
All the Captain America cupcakes in the world won’t mean a thing if you’ve left behind incomplete projects. Make sure you finish all the assignments you’ve been given and that your work doesn’t get sloppy just because you’re daydreaming about your upcoming break. If you need to ask your supervisors to write a letter of recommendation or fill out intern evaluations or other paperwork from your school, make sure to give them enough time to complete those as well. And be sure to ask if they’ll act as a reference -- if you’ve finished all your work, written a great thank you note, and supplied the office with delightful treats, they’d be hard pressed to turn you down!
Your lasting good impression is only lasting if you stay in touch with your contacts. A day or two after you’ve completed your internship, connect with the people you worked with on LinkedIn. If you got along really well with your direct supervisor, you can add them on Facebook as well -- and it should go without saying that your Facebook profile should be utterly professional when you do. Staying linked on social media will remind you to follow up at appropriate intervals as you continue to move forward in your career.
--Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan