Here are a few—five to be exact—things to do before you finish up.
1. Revise that resume
Prepare an updated resume that incorporates newly learned skills and experiences directly related to your internship. The resume should be filled with quantifiable information that shows what you can do for an organization. Gather a few facts about the company and about your experiences there. How many customers does the organization serve? What are the primary departments you worked with? How many events did you coordinate? How many press releases did you draft and distribute? If you are having trouble placing a numeric value on your accomplishments, consider the power of a well-chosen action verb. Did you lead an initiative? Exceed expectations? Or help implement a new system?
Side note: Get into the habit of recording your accomplishments. I have a professional journal where I routinely place testimonials, praise, and other success anecdotes—big or small. You’d be surprised how seemingly small successes can add up to reveal a larger strength.
2. Learn to love LinkedIn
If you do not have a professional profile, go create one now!
LinkedIn is essential for career-minded professionals and will help you build your professional brand. It can bring opportunities to you and help you gain valuable insight to prepare for interviews. Don’t use just any photo for your profile picture. If you can, take the time to have a professional headshot done—it’s worth the investment. Expect to pay $100-$250 for a standard business headshot. If that is too steep for you, a passport photo digital file can be purchased for as little as $20. Now is the time, if you haven’t already done so, to send personalized LinkedIn connection requests to your supervisor, co-interns, or any other professional at the organization. Be sure to delete the default message and write a personal note. Then, go one step further and ask each of them if they’d be willing to prepare a LinkedIn recommendation for you based on your work during the internship. This will boost your credibility when recruiters or employers view your profile.
3. Make mock interviews happen
Job interviews will make or break your chances of employment. Having scripted answers to standard interview questions will keep you calm, focused, and confident, but in reality, it comes down to being cool under pressure. The more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll be during the actual interview.Ask one of your internship colleagues if they’d be willing to conduct a mock interview. Prep your interviewer by providing some background on the job or industry you are interested in; even provide a list of common interview questions the interviewer should ask you so you can practice. Take it up a notch and have a third party record the mock interview. It won’t be pretty, but it will reveal non-verbal areas of your performance such as smile, enthusiasm, energy level, personality, confidence, voice, attire, posture, hand gestures, and inappropriate body language.
4. Secure valuable resources
Look to the professionals around you and consider each one of them a valuable resource. First, ask them about their own careers. How did they get into the field? What do they like? What do they find challenging? Most people love to talk about themselves and will be flattered that you’re asking about their experiences. Second, ask them how you are doing. What could you do differently? What could you do better? Are you meeting the goals of the organization? What about goals your boss has for you as an individual? Getting a critique from your boss can be intimidating. Don’t be afraid—just keep an open mind and remember that his or her comments are for your own benefit. Once you have that feedback, use it—find ways to amend your performance.
5. Show appreciation and stand out
Handwritten thank you notes offer a powerful way to communicate, and are less likely to get overlooked in the hundreds of emails people receive daily. Send a unique, personalized note to everyone you worked with, not just upper management. Consider this: you’ve spent the last three or so months developing relationships with each of your internship colleagues in hopes of someday using the experience as a recommendation for employment. Taking five minutes to write a note will solidify your professional relationship, create a sense of loyalty, and make a lasting impression.
Now, with only a few weeks left before you graduate, create a list of goals for the remainder of your internship, get networking, and make the most of this opportunity!