how to get the most out of your internship after you leave

How to get the most out of your internship after you leave

Our quick and easy tips will help you maximise the benefits from your work experience placement in the long term.

As your internship draws to a close, take a moment to think beyond bidding your colleagues a cheery goodbye. It won’t take you long to ensure you can make the most of the contacts you’ve made and talk authoritatively about your experiences when applying for graduate jobs. However, you do need to take action sooner rather than later.

Confirm your internship employer as a referee

Your employer should be willing to provide a reference for you for future jobs or internships, especially if you have been paid while on work experience. Check this out while you are still working there. Confirm with your line manager or the HR manager that they are happy for you to add them to your CV as a referee and that they are willing to provide a reference to a future employer when the time comes.

Do you want to stay in touch?

Think about staying in touch with any colleagues who have helped you, or might be willing to do so in future. Before you leave, ask if they’d be happy to stay in contact; if they are, you can exchange email addresses and/or connect via social media. LinkedIn is the most professional choice for this, with Twitter in second place.

If you already know that there’s something specific you’d like from them after you leave, such as feedback on a new CV, you may feel more confident asking the question while you can still do so face to face. Drop anyone you want to stay in touch with a quick ‘thank you’ message soon after you leave, so it’s not a surprise for them to hear from you later on.

Make notes while you remember

To make the most of your internship experience on your CV and in future applications and interviews you’ll need to remember the detail of what you’ve done. Write this down straight away before you forget. If you do so while still on your internship you will be able to check up on anything that’s already slipped your mind.

Key points to include in your notes are:

  • what you worked on
  • who you worked with
  • training received
  • skills learned/improved.

Make sure this includes names (of people, projects, products, cases, training courses or software packages) and any relevant numbers, for example, that you worked in a team of three or reduced waste by 20 per cent. Also note any feedback you receive, particularly praise.

Follow up on suggestions

Have your colleagues made any suggestions that could help you progress in your career, such as contacts you could get in touch with or books you should read? Get on with this sooner rather than later. Your window of opportunity for following up on new contacts is limited (emailing someone saying ‘I met Jo Smith a year ago and she suggested I get in touch’ would sound pretty silly). Background reading isn’t quite as pressing, but would still give you a good excuse to get back in touch and say you found the book helpful.