Over our nearly decade in business, my company has met, worked with and even hired hundreds of interns from local area colleges. Interns have helped us research critical information, move offices and learn new perspectives -- and in exchange, they've gotten the chance to work side-by-side with our amazing team.
Although we've hired several people out of our intern program, the rest seem to drift back into their student lives without capitalizing on all of their time here. That's sad, considering how much we could continue to help them on their journey, if only they kept in touch!
To that end, here are three things you must do before you leave your summer internship, if you want to land that dream job and reap additional benefits far into your career:
1. Cultivate relationships with the top executives.
Most interns get the privilege of working with mid-level employees who will certainly enhance their education and real-world experience. But rarely does an intern get to work with the "top dogs," as one of my teammates calls it. However, executives are never far away from an intern's reach -- not to mention, those executives are often the best-positioned people in the firm to provide long-lasting value to an intern.
Start by creating a daily habit of connecting with the executive team. Say hello. Ask them how things are going. Ask them if they need anything. No matter what they say, you'll learn more about what's going on at the company and you'll make a lasting impression.
Then, don't be shy -- make sure the execs know that you're ready and willing to accomplish tasks on their behalf. So few interns do this that you'll stand out just by asking.
2. Connect with everyone online.
These days, everyone is connected through one of the big social channels. Start with LinkedIn, and be sure to connect with every single person at your company.
Why? Because you never know where those people will end up, and you'll want a Rolodex handy in case you need a reference or resource in a few years' time.
One pro tip is to avoid Facebook, since it tends to be more personal than LinkedIn. Furthermore, and this should go without saying, go through all of your profiles to make sure you don't have any inappropriate text or images on your channels. That's a surefire way to reduce your chances of making meaningful connections.
3. Establish a value exchange.
Everybody wants something. You want an incredible job, with incredible references and connections to help get you there. The executive team where you're interning most likely wants to grow the organization, alleviate problems and make their teams happy and fulfilled.
Have this exact conversation with key executives, where you explain that you want to help them achieve their goals -- and, in exchange, you want help achieving your goals. Then, tell them what your goals are.
You might be surprised at how much leaders want to help you on your journey (after all, that's why you got the opportunity to intern there in the first place). And, by establishing a win-win by explicitly asking, you'll instantly set yourself up to reap the benefits of what will become a more well-defined, personal relationship.
All of these tactics have one thing in common: they make you memorable in the eyes of the people you work with. The key is to be known, develop lasting relationships, and be clear about how you'll create value -- both for your company, and for yourself.
Follow these guidelines and you'll have raving fans to give you introductions, write a recommendation or provide you an endorsement.
If it's true that your network is your net worth, start as an intern. The only direction you can go from there is up.