We’re now a couple weeks into summer. For many college students and young professionals, that means we’re now firmly set in the daily routine of our summer internships. Which makes this the perfect time to start looking ahead to your short-term summer internship and long-term career goals.
What do you want to accomplish over the next 8 weeks or so? What would make this a great experience? How can you best leverage this experience, and really make this summer count?
To help answer those questions, we asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council this question:
What should all interns include on their action plans as they work, and eventually wrap up, a summer internship at your company?
Read on… then put their insightful answers to work for your career!
1. Start Networking Immediately
When working an internship, too many interns have their sights set on only their next opportunity. However, you never know where your career may lead. Interns shouldschedule lunches with whoever is directly managing them now or with someone they connected to during their time at the company. Investing in these relationships could lead to bigger opportunities down the line.
2. Keep in Touch
We want everyone to feel valued, whether it’s a manager or an intern working a few hours a week. Interns should be valued because they often have a finger on the pulse of what’s new. They can help companies as much as companies can help them, so I always try to establish a good relationship and encourage interns to keep in touch, especially as they continue their professional journey.
3. Take Your Manager to Lunch
Take your manager to lunch, and you’ll create more room to ask questions like, “How am I doing?” and “How can I help you more?” As the conversation continues ask, “Do you know if the company is hiring next year?” You can also ask, “Do you know of any other companies hiring for a similar role?” Taking your manager out to lunch will be a nice gesture that shows professional maturity.
4. Update Your Resume
Both during and especially upon completion of an internship, always make sure to add the relevant information to your resume. Go past roles and responsibilities to include the impact you had on the company and the soft skills you’re learning. By the time you have graduated and completed a handful of internships, your resume should be chock-full of experience.
5. Strengthen Your LinkedIn Profile
I encourage all the interns I’ve worked with to strengthen their LinkedIn profile with a great photo, strong copy, connecting with everyone they meet during the internship and requesting recommendations from the people they’ve worked with. Those recommendations from your summer internship provide much needed social proof of your experience.
6. Get LinkedIn Recommendations
As Daniel said, recommendations from coworkers and managers are important. Since LinkedIn has become the go-to platform for recruiters, those recommendations can make your profile stand out with some good, quality referrals. And managers and leaders: Be aware that some interns may be too shy to ask for referrals so you can offer to give them one to make it easier for them.
7. Reflect on Your Experience
First, thoroughly enjoy your experience. There will never be another internship quite like this one. As your internship comes to an end, reflect on the time spent at my company. Outline what you’ve learned, what you liked, and what you think could be improved. Think about what you, as an intern, might do differently next time. Most importantly, consider how you will use the experience gained moving forward.
8. Find a Creative Outlet to Summarize Your Internship
Recently, we had our interns make a quick video highlighting their experiences and what they learned. We edited this into a highlight reel that they can share with their friends, family and potential employers. We share the video with everyone at the going away party. A video is a good way for them summarize their time with us and prepare for the transition.
9. Offer Your Creative Suggestions Based on What You’ve Learned
Think ahead. Speak up. I am always on the lookout for ways to improve and for solutions to the usual business problems. I appreciate getting creative recommendations from my interns who have worked at my company and encourage them to be bold and courageous while providing that input. Doing so will make them stand out from the rest. Who knows — these ideas may just lead to a job offer.
– Adam Cronenberg, A1 Garage Door Service
10. Put Together a Portfolio
Don’t just settle with getting your resume up-to-date with your new job experience. Put together a portfolio for yourself that showcases the main skill sets you’re learning and overall experience you had. Be sure to include any accomplishments achieved along the way. That portfolio, either digital or the old-school variety, will help document all your experiences, including this internship.
11. Send Handwritten Thank-You Notes
In this day and age of tweets and texts, handwritten thank you notes make a huge difference ‒ both during your internship and especially as the internship comes to an end. Send one to everyone going out of their way to help you now. Send one as the internship ends, and you will quickly stand out from the crowd as a polished and thoughtful professional, and put you on the radar for full-time openings later.
12. Ask About Upcoming Opportunities
As you’re working this internship, leave a window open for future advancement. That might mean more responsibility now. Or it may mean full-time openings, opportunities to freelance, or opportunities to pivot to other departments later. In the meantime, be sure to gain a more rounded understanding of the entire organization so you are perceived as ready to contribute in many areas ‒ now and later.
These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. YEC has also launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.