Before you know it, Pittsburgh will be filled once again with college students, many of whom are coming back to school for the fall semester after completing a summer internship. Ending those internships the right way can be crucial to a college student’s future employment potential and can help open doors to opportunities down the road.
“Many college students probably worked extremely hard to secure their summer internship, and faced a lot of competition from their peers,” says Patrick Ferraro, employer relations consultant with JF&CS’s Career Development Center (CDC). “It’s so important for students to realize that the hard work doesn’t necessarily end when the internship does. They need to make sure they tie up their internships in a professional manner, and that they don’t lose touch with their professional contacts once they get back into the swing of the new semester.”
At the CDC, Patrick works directly with local and regional employers to help them tap into talent and attract and retain employees, and helps bridge the gap between employers and jobseekers. He suggests that college students can benefit from considering the following tips as their internships come to a close–and it wouldn’t hurt for the parents reading this to gently pass along the suggestions to their college-age kids!
1. End the internship the right way – “Don’t just wave goodbye and walk out the door,” Patrick says. “Before you leave, take the time to send an individual email to each of your supervisors and everyone you worked with, or better yet, personally stop by their offices if you have the chance. Thank them for their contributions to your learning experience this summer. Ask them if you can stay in touch and then make sure to do so.”
Social media outlets like Facebook and LinkedIn make it easy to keep in contact, but don’t underestimate the power of a personal email or note every once in awhile. Those efforts will pay off when it’s time to reach out for employment purposes or ask for references.
2. Ask for recommendations from supervisors – Whether it’s on LinkedIn or a written recommendation you can save for when you apply for jobs, recommendations from your supervisors will legitimize your internship and lend credibility to your skills and abilities.
3. Update your resume immediately – “Once the semester gets underway, it will be easy to forget about the specific projects, responsibilities or accomplishments of your internship,” Patrick says. “Update your resume and LinkedIn profile as soon as possible, while everything is still fresh in your mind.”
4. Reflect on and appreciate the experience – “Getting the office coffee orders and making copies is the stereotypical idea of what an intern does during the summer,” Patrick says. “But often, a college-level intern is getting practical, valuable real-world career experience in their field of interest.”
Reflect on how you can apply the working knowledge you gained to your classroom experience and how that will make you a valuable prospect when you’re ready to look for full-time work.
“Even if you did spend some of your summer on a Starbucks run, maybe you learned about the hierarchy of the type company you’re looking to join, or you had the opportunity to observe the inner-workings of an office environment. Find something positive that you can take away from the experience that will help your professional growth,” says Patrick.
5. Reach out to the Career Development Center – The CDC helps jobseekers from a range of different ages and experience levels, and can help college students or recent graduates with resume help, interviewing practice, networking and more.
The CDC helps individuals from all walks of life find meaningful employment and opportunities. If you or someone you know is looking for employment or career guidance, call the CDC at 412.422.5627 or visit www.careerdevelopmentcenter.org.