In most cases, interns who have landed a summer internship with a great company have already been identified as top contender to fill an open job position. But there's an art to standing out from the rest of the interns. So how can a graduate wrap up his or her internship program with no regrets?
For one thing, it's a lot harder than it looks. Even Sara Sparhawk, a manager at Amazon's University Recruiting program, recalls things she could have done differently during her college internship. "I wish I had focused not just on my role, but on my company's whole business, like learning more about what made it and how my team fit into that vision," she says. "I also could have stepped out of my comfort zone, like taking on tasks in other parts of the business."
For interns looking to end their term with a good impression, Sparhawk says doing these six things could potentially land them a future job offer:
1. Don't slack off those last few days.
It's tempting to do this--especially if you're down to your last three or four days at the company. "Keep working hard, keep networking, and keep growing," Sparhawk advises. Even if you plan on going back to school, showing that you have "drive and tenacity to finish strong and follow through with assignments" will put you in the running for future opportunities.
2. If you can't finish a big project in time, hand it off.
If you have only, say, two days left, and you haven't completed some assigned tasks, be proactive about seeing them through.
"Find out who will take the lead on closing them out once you leave, and make sure they have all the details to keep things moving," says Sparhawk. An even more impressive move, she adds, would be to share "any of your learnings and key aspects of the assignment." It's also a great way to ensure that institutional knowledge doesn't disappear when you leave.
3. Prepare for the end.
"Know what your final deliverables are," she says. "If your work ends with a presentation or meeting, for instance, know who will be in the room and ask questions about how they like to receive information."
The final performance review with your supervisor is the perfect time to highlight where you think you've excelled, and what you know you could work on some more. Sparhawk often sees employees make the mistake of not addressing their own strengths and weaknesses, and instead obsessing too much about what questions they should ask, she says.
"Interns should go into reviews looking for feedback on their strengths as well as opportunities for growth," she says.
4. Ask smart questions.
If you want to get hired, your manager is the most valuable source. Boosting your chances could be as simple as asking, "What do I need to do to prepare for a job here, or anywhere else in this field?" The answers you receive could range from taking online courses to working on public speaking or punctuality. "Take this counsel and act on it," says Sparhawk.
5. Maintain your relationships.
As always, staying in touch with your colleagues after your internship ends has its benefits. "Both personal and professional networking can help keep you top of mind as new roles become available." She mentions that genuine thank-you notes go a long way, especially when you highlight your appreciation and the impact the recipient had on your growth.
6. Don't wait for an HR manager to reach out to you.
If you want a full-time position at the company, just praying you'll get it won't do it. Let your manager, team, and HR/recruiting team know.
"Different companies make full-time hiring decisions for summer interns at different times in the year, so be sure to keep in touch with your recruiter and managers and stay in-the-know about what's happening in your team's world," says Sparhawk. Stay optimistic if you don't get an offer, she adds. Keep an eye out for opportunities as you focus on your growth area, and then reapply toward the end of the school year.