I know summer is not quite over but September is only three short weeks away. The end of summer means many college students are wrapping up at their internships or summer jobs. Leaving on a good note is just as important as the first impression you made on the first day. You may or may not want to return to this job or internship next summer. I know next summer is probably not on your mind right now, you got enough on your plate. That is fine, but a few thoughtful actions will really bode well for you in the long run when you are ready to start planning for next summer.
Handwritten Thank You Notes
At the end of an internship sending a thank you email is fine, but it’s boring and easy. This is an instance where a handwritten note to your boss and anyone else you worked with will really stand out. Be specific and personal in your note. Thank each person for something such as advice they gave you, help with a project, supervising you, taking the time to grab lunch. Mentioning the little things will reflect your maturity and will show your boss and co-workers that you took the internship seriously and really got something out of it. An actual hand written card is a tangible memory of you, it’s something to tack on a bulletin board that will be seen. Emails get deleted and moved to folders out of sight and out of mind very quickly. Email is the way of the word and definitely appropriate in many, many other circumstances, one of which you will read in a minute but break out your feather and quill set for this communication.
Part Timing It
Part time jobs are awesome. Retail, food service, lifeguarding, these experiences put you in challenging customer service positions, require you to problem solve and you are usually working with a lot of different personalities. Very valuable adulting skills. Part time jobs also offer flexibility and many employers are willing to hire you for the summer and let you pop back in during winter breaks. At the end of the summer, let your boss know your break schedule and that you hope to return and when you able to return. It is much better to lay the groundwork early on instead of a last minute panic call during finals week and you don’t have any source of income lined up for the winter/summer.
My first job was at a local grocery store, working weekends in high school and a couple week days in the summer. Gas money. Mall/food court money. Yes please. I actually had a little stowed away for college which came in real handy when I realized how much textbooks cost. When I went off to college I told my boss when winter break was and I was welcomed back for four years during that random five week period where I had nothing to do. When I was interning during my college summers I worked a few weekends here and there for extra cash and it helped my boss out when people went on vacation. Because I appreciated the job and always kept my boss in the loop between summer and winter breaks, my boss really came through for me when I needed it. I was fortunate to land a full time job after college but I knew if I wanted to advance I would need a master’s degree. I quit my job and took a low paying internship for two years to gain experience while I was in graduate school full time. Because I had a good relationship with my boss (the holiday cookies I made for him every year probably helped) he let me come back to work, manage my own hours and change my schedule at the drop of hat. I would not have been able to pause adulting for grad school if I didn’t have this extra source of income.
Students tell me all the time that their part time job has motivated them to focus on their career goals and intern the following summer. Unfortunately some internships are unpaid or the payment is a small stipend paid out at the end of the summer, you might run into a cash flow problem. Interning Monday-Friday and working a double at a restaurant on Saturdays or opening a store first thing on Sunday is rough. But, it really fosters your work ethic, keeps you motivated and starts to foster a sense of fiscal responsibility. Trust me, work ethic and motivation are very important when you are adulting later in life.
Keeping In Touch
Getting an internship is hard work. You went to career/internship fairs, wrote numerous cover letters, interviewed with multiple employers multiple times. Finally it all pays off and you landed a position where you spend your summer working hard and learning a lot about an industry and employer you will want to work for one day (or maybe you didn’t like it all and are freaking out and rethinking all your decisions, don’t worry we will talk about this later.) It takes a lot of effort to land that internship and to do well. Let all that effort keep working for you beyond the summer.
I used to be really hesitant about this because I felt I was bothering people or they wouldn’t be interested. Looking back, I really regret not keeping in touch with my supervisor from a marketing internship I did one summer. I learned marketing wasn’t for me and that was a great lesson. My supervisor was awesome. Super knowledgeable, friendly and supportive, genuinely concerned about what was in my best interest. Even though I did not see myself in in-house marketing, he still would have been a valuable mentor.
A quick friendly check-in email a couple times a year to your supervisor can really go a long way. It will allow you to effortlessly maintain relationships and can keep doors open for the future. These emails should be brief, a decent paragraph in the ten to fifteen sentence range is good. Nothing too daunting for you to write and nothing too to read. First address him/her with “Dear”, or “Hello”. “Good Morning” and “Good Afternoon” are nice salutations too. “Hi” and “Hey” are just too casual. Start off with a pleasantry such as “I hope this email finds you well!” or “I hope the 5th floor team is doing well!” Ask about the office and how things have been going since you left or inquire about the status of a project you worked on. Give an update on yourself (classes, athletics, or extra-curriculars you are involved in) and how things have been going the last few months. Conclude by wishing him/her well. The email should not require a response but should hopefully prompt the receiver to want to return the sentiment. A brief email will also get a response a lot faster. When people receive a short email they can respond quickly with an email of similar length. If your email is very long and detailed, the receiver then feels they need send a lengthy response back which is time consuming to compose, so it gets put on the back burner or forgotten.
An email between Thanksgiving and New Year is a great check-in time. It’s a time of year you hear from all kinds of people sending out well wishes and that is one of the reasons for this communication. Another check-in time frame is between May and June. Summer marks another pleasant time of year. People start looking forward to vacations and taking long weekends. Summer is also a common conversation starter, how many times have people asked you, “What do you have lined up for summer” or “How is your summer going?”
I hope this post found you well and you enjoy the remaining weeks of summer!