Getting the Most Out of Your 2020 Internship and Beyond

Near the end of the summer, interns around the globe may find themselves thinking, “I haven’t really used my internship like I want to.” Or, “How do I add some extra polish to the end of this experience?”

Especially because of the ongoing pandemic, interns can and should tackle the end of their internships with confidence and visible appreciation for the community that has hosted them. With the intention to start planning the next steps after the internship. Note: The following tips are for if the internship goes well and if it doesn’t go quite as planned. Apply these tips as the internship progresses!

Join an Employee Resource Group

If your host company has internal community resources, engagement is a must! These groups are a benefit to all employees, and as an intern this usually means you have free access as well. (You will have to find the communication channel like Yammer or Slack.) The key to this resource is networking with multiple people. As a new face the people around you will be curious about your history and background. Share what you can on your profile as this is a great chance to segway into your future goals, finding mentors, or getting leads on how to take those important next steps into a full-time role.

Talk to your mentor and their managers

If you have been assigned a mentor or a manager or both, be sure to have one or two informal conversations with them besides talking about your project. Maybe you can work this into your regular one on one meetings or schedule another meeting. The types of things you would talk about are the possibility to convert to a full-time position, and if not soon, then in the future. Eventually, you could also ask for a formal letter of recommendation/evaluation if it has not been made clear you will receive one. Or you could go over your accomplishments and ask for advice on how to explain your internship roles to people who are external or outside the company. This will also remind your manager of your accomplishments during this exceptional time. Another meeting you can ask for, if appropriate, is with your manager’s manager. The reason you would want to do this is to make sure your contributions to the team have visibility up the ladder. The more people who know your skills and what you do, the more people who can recommend or agree to your hire. I would do this only as long as your direct manager knows.

Create an address book

Most likely when you leave the office on your last day you will no longer have access to a work email or the employee directory. So you should create a list of all the people you interacted with or want to keep up communications with after the job. You should get their permission and let them know you will be emailing them from a personal account in the future if they agree to keep in contact. Another option is to use LinkedIn to connect with your colleagues. Start this process at least 2-3 weeks before the internship ends.

Connect with fellow interns

Your peers will always be your peers. So wherever you go, however far you go, the friendships you make now have the chance of connecting you to people who will be in similar positions at different companies and be another bridge for you to access opportunities. Connect with your fellow interns in any way you can, get their phone numbers or connect on LinkedIn. Try to create authentic friendships that will be viable four or five years from now. Depending on the situation, I will follow my intern friends on Facebook or Instagram too. It provides a good reminder that I met this person and they are still doing cool things!

Bring back memories from the places you have been

By sharing photos that you took of your workplace (even if that is at home) and by wearing the company t-shirt or jacket, you add clout and credibility to your professional journey. But that won’t help unless people know and hear about this. So don’t be afraid to immediately update your LinkedIn with any important skills, talk about your experience with those who ask or even write an article about the experience.

Leave something behind

When it comes time to hand off your project to the person who will be responsible for continuing your work or archiving your work, make sure it has your name in it. Create a slide deck or other documentation that explains your previous work and make sure your name is on that too.

Finally, you can also choose to leave something behind besides your project and that is a very simple thank you card or email to your manager and anyone else who had an impact on your experience. I am pretty sure this will make you stand out to those who will appreciate this gesture and it will be another thing with your name on it. I usually opt to include a picture of my intern cohort as well. \

Conclusion

This is going to be an interesting and challenging intern season for everyone. If I were to boil everything above into one sentence…Focus on the visibility of your enthusiasm for the opportunity and the milestones you accomplish. If I can help you with your journey you know where to reach me! Send me a DM and let’s connect!


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Talk Soon!
Michael Berhane, Founder of POCIT
Camille Eddy
Camille Eddy

Camille Eddy is a machine learning engineer at HP Labs in Palo Alto, helping to bring in the next generation of robotics.

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