Nailed It: 5 Ways to Finish Your Internship Strong

Whether your experience was great, less than great or somewhere in between, you've got one last chance to nail it this summer.
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You did it! You made it to the final week of your summer internship--a last taste of professional life before you head back to your beautiful, tree-lined campus.

Maybe your experience was flawless, above and beyond what you expected. You edited articles side-by-side with the lead copy editor, had engaging conversations over coffee with a senior partner or you analyzed results with the lab director. Or, maybe your experience was less than expected. You made photocopies for the lead copy editor, fetched coffee for a senior partner or organized a spreadsheet for the lab director. Whether your experience was great, less than great or somewhere in between, you've got one last chance to nail it this summer. Here are my 5 tips for finishing an internship strong:

1. List It Out

Take 15 minutes and write down the good, the bad and the ugly. What did you love about your internship, and what did you hate? What has this internship taught you about your own workplace values? If you loved the open floor plan or the casual work attire, write it down. Take note of the positive and negative, and the strengths and weaknesses you've identified in yourself. It might seem insignificant, but all of these details add up to one big, important fact: what makes you happy at work?

2. Talk It Over

Make a point of sitting down with your supervisor one last time. This conversation can be as formal or as informal as your relationship dictates, but be sure to cover a couple of important bases. Inform your supervisor about your progress toward established goals and projects. If it's appropriate, bring a complete list of the tasks you've accomplished and the projects that are still incomplete. It's helpful for supervisors to get a complete lay of the land before you leave.

Most importantly, make sure you have an opportunity to share feedback. Ask your supervisor what you did well and how you can improve. This summer, my supervisor asked me to think about five things I learned; three things I wish I had done; and two challenges for my exit interview. This is a great framework to use, because it can help you put your entire experience in context, and it might help in your next interview. It's also valuable for your employer, because your feedback will help them shape future internship experiences. At the end of the day, great organizations want happy employees. If your input can help make future interns and employees happier, that's good for everyone.

3. Stay Connected

Social-networking sites make it easy to maintain the important relationships you worked hard to establish. Use your well-maintained LinkedIn profile to highlight the cool projects that you've taken on since leaving your internship. Shoot your supervisor an occasional email or respond to a co-worker's tweet. The world is a small place, and you never know how your connections will help you in the future.

4. Update Your Resume

You've worked hard this summer. You did some cool stuff and you got professional experience. Take a few minutes and write out a short description of your experience. Share it with your supervisor and get their feedback. They know exactly what other hiring managers might be looking for on a resume. Plus, it's important for your supervisor to have a clear sense of what you did this summer; they might be an important reference in the future.

Writing samples, presentations or other examples of your work from this summer will look great on your resume or LinkedIn profile. But, before you copy those projects to your desktop, make sure you ask for permission. Your company may not want those materials floating around the Internet, but they may be all right if you distribute them on request.

5. Say Thanks

It's a no-brainer. No matter what, you're walking away from this internship with a better sense of your next steps. Whether it affirmed your career interests or pointed you in another direction, be sure to thank your co-workers and supervisor for your experience this summer. Invite them to one last lunch, coffee or happy hour. Write a note expressing your appreciation. Now you can clean off your desk with a clear head and sense of accomplishment. Nailed it.

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