Seven tips for students to consider after finishing a summer internship

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Students share information about their internships during a Summer Expo session.

Students share information about their internships during a Summer Expo session.

This summer, Colgate’s internship blog series followed students working around the world for notable companies in a variety of fields. From Lithuania and Nova Scotia to New York City and Hamilton, Colgate students gained valuable professional skills and spent time exploring the Real World.

Reaping the benefits of a summer internship can extend beyond the time spent working for the company. Here are some tips to get the most out of an internship:

Write thank-you notes and promise future visits. When you’re saying goodbye to your supervisor and coworkers for the last time, give them personalized thank-you notes and if possible, promise to visit the office in the future to pop in and say hello. These little touches emphasize your appreciation for their support, guidance, and advice.

Follow your employer’s social media. If your employer has a Facebook page, Twitter account and/or a LinkedIn group, follow them to stay up-to-date about employment opportunities. They may post or tweet about job openings that may be of interest to you if graduation lies ahead.

Assemble a portfolio of your work. While your summer projects are fresh on your mind, collect presentations, articles, or other evidence of contributions you made during your internship and put them into one location, like a gallery on Linkedin. Whether the portfolio means saving the files into a folder or creating a website to showcase your work, gather everything you produced during your job into one place. Your portfolio will come in handy when you need to show future potential employers your work and creating it is much easier done sooner rather than later.

Wrap up your summer experience. Add your work experience to your resume and Linkedin so you’re prepared for early recruiting deadlines. Don’t forget to link with the connections you made over the summer on LinkedIn, they can offer invaluable advice and be helpful for future networking.

Look for campus ambassador programs. Some employers like to offer their summer interns an opportunity to keep in touch with human resources by actually working as a representative back on campus to communicate employment opportunities or the mission of the organization. By acting as an extension of the HR department, campus ambassadors stay in contact and work directly with the professionals who will guide them through the application process for future employment opportunities.

Check in with your supervisor from time to time. Make a calendar reminder to reach out to your former supervisor in the fall and winter. Sending a quick e-mail to your boss in the months after your internship shows that you are interested in keeping up to date with your department and employer. In your e-mail, try to add value to your qualifications by pitching a promotion or story idea, if applicable.

Ask if you can work remotely. If you have an internship that involves online components or computer work, see if you can work as a freelancer. Watch for new, relevant material, and stay knowledgeable about developments in the field; that way, when you ask to contribute, you will have up-to-date and relevant information about the work your company is doing. This outreach will help ensure your name is not forgotten in the office.

If someone recommended you, pay it forward. If you know a friend or classmate interested in a position in the department you interned for, and you think she or he would be a good fit, provide a recommendation. Because the company knows you personally, your recommendation could give the applicant a leg up and help your employer make an informed choice. It also shows that you care about the staffing quality in your office.

If you have any tips for summer interns or you’ve had interns of your own, please comment below with your advice.

(Editor’s note: Natalie was responsible for creating, editing, and managing Colgate’s internship blog series this summer.)