The recession and the 9.1 percent unemployment rate have fueled employers’ desires to cut costs and college students’ eagerness to gain job experience for their résumés, prompting a rise in internship opportunities across the country.
As the number of college students participating in internships grows, more schools are offering structured programs and more employers are expecting graduates to enter the workforce with real-world experience.
“Landing an internship and completing it successfully isn’t enough, in and of itself, to convert the experience into a job offer,” says Mercy Eyadiel, executive director of employer relations at Wake Forest University. “How students end their internship is often the difference between a successful experience and a less fruitful one.”
Eyadiel offers five tips to consider before saying goodbye:
Know where you stand – Be proactive and request feedback from your manager and co-workers. Make it easy for them by providing bullet points about what you’ve learned and highlighting your key accomplishments. Send this information in advance and request time to discuss in person. This will demonstrate your initiative and how serious you are about ongoing career development. After they have provided feedback, honestly reflect and assess what you could have done better.
Communicate your interest – Don’t assume that your manager knows you are interested in working for their organization. Let them know! Share specifics about what you liked and how you can add value to their organization.
Stay connected – Use LinkedIn to stay in touch with former colleagues and managers. Be sure to update your professional experiences and “get recommended.” Be discerning with your Facebook interactions since most people use this as a social rather than a professional network.
Help make introductions – Now that you are familiar with what your employer cares about, find ways to help them make connections. If they are interested in a particular area of research and you know a faculty member who happens to be an expert, find out if there is mutual interest to be connected. This is a great opportunity to create a win-win situation.
Show appreciation – Send a handwritten thank you note to your manager and other colleagues who were helpful during your experience. Handwritten notes will help you stand out over email. In addition, show gratitude to those who helped you land the internship and share what you’ve learned.