We often hear about how to make a good first impression. What about making a good last impression?
Especially in today’s LinkedIn-Twitter-Facebook world where everyone is so widely networked – exiting under the best possible circumstances is critically important to your career.
Follow these tips to ensure you leave your internship with a good last impression:
Two Weeks Prior
- Provide your supervisor with a thorough description of the project(s) you’ve worked on, especially any projects that may not be completed; include anticipated next steps
- Map out the final two weeks with your mentor and/or supervisor, including exit interviews
One Week Prior
- Make a strong push to finish any projects; if you don’t finish, offer to complete the work on your own time
- Ask for letters of recommendation from those who might be influential in your career development
Two Days Prior
- To mentors who have made a significant impact, offer a low-key, inexpensive memento of your time at the company (make it an “office” style gift so there is a reminder of you – and your work – present)
- Send a thank you note to everyone with whom you worked closely (colleagues, vendors, customers and management)
- Perform a thorough turnover of all remaining assignments; create an action item list for your supervisor and/or replacement
- Make sure to go from person to person, make eye contact, shake hands, and say a sincere “thank you”
Two Days After
- Set a positive precedent by communicating with mentors and colleagues via social media, email or phone
- Allow yourself time to reflect (and write down!) on the good, bad and ugly of the internship; determine what you learned, what you taught, and what you might do differently
Two Weeks After
- Arrange a time to meet with mentor(s) over coffee; tactfully discuss the “good, bad and ugly”
- Pay it forward… volunteer to help the mentor on your own time (perhaps as a paid consultant!)
By following this exit program, you’ll not only leave a positive “last” impression – you’ll impress your employer with your organizational skills, proactive management skills, and professionalism.
One other note…
We’re YouTern, so of course we’ll focus on making a good last impression at the end of an internship. However, these guidelines apply equally well to class projects, volunteer assignments and freelance work – even your job. Makes sense, since in almost every case (other than a sudden lay-off or termination) you have ample notice the end of that working relationship is near. Plan ahead!
About the Author: CEO and Founder of YouTern, Mark Babbitt is a serial mentor who has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Forbes and Under30CEO.com regarding job search, career development, internships and higher education’s role in preparing emerging talent for the workforce. A keynote speaker and blogger, Mark’s contributions include Huffington Post, Switch and Shift, The Daily Muse and Under30CEO.
Mark has been honored to be named to GenJuice’s list of “Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors” and was recently featured on HR Examiner’s “Top 25 Trendspotters in HR” and several top blogger lists, including JobMob’s “Top Career Bloggers of 2012”. Contact Mark via email or on Twitter!