When you leave your internship you leave a certain impression, and your final actions have a major impact on the impression you leave. What do you need to do before you leave your internship company to make this a very positive impression?
Work related matters
The way you finish your internship will be, in the main how you are remembered – it will be your lasting legacy.
Finish writing up your work so that anyone who carries on your work or has to support what you have done has all they need from you. Leave it tidy and professional.
Ask for feedback if a formal internship review has not already been planned. If your internship went well this will be a good opportunity to really benefit from performance appraisal and reflection, if it went badly you have nothing to loose by not being honest – although never resort to rudeness or insults. Receiving and discussing your performance effectively is a valuable skill for the future and this is a good opportunity to learn how it is done in your company.
In what ways have you met expectations?
In what ways have you fallen short of expectations?
Which of your behaviours were appreciated?
Which of your behaviours could have been better?
How has what you have done and learned aligned with your upfront objectives? If there is a gap does it merit discussing?
Is it appropriate to offer to support your work after you have finished? Perhaps finishing off a piece of work in your own time and then sending it in. These can again create a very good impression BUT you must deliver when you say you will or your credibility and impression will significantly fall.
Now is a good time to ask about future work opportunities but ask this in a very positive way starting with how much you have enjoyed working in the company and how much you have learnt and grown. Don't be too boastful about what you can do for the company but you could hint at it. If you want to work for the company why not ask!
Personal and Administrative matters
Ask for letters of recommendation. It is good practice to give your supervisor a couple of weeks to think about these and time to reflect on your performance. A rushed request is likely to result in a very superficial letter.
Hand in your pass and any keys or company paperwork. Make sure you return everything that is company or commercially confidential.
Return any equipment or company property on loan to you.
Make sure you leave your accommodation clean and tidy. Hand the keys in on the due date and ensure all bills are paid up in full. Irrespective of how you have found your accommodation it may be used by the company again in the future and how you leave it may well get back to your internship company – potentially damaging the good work you did in creating a quality and lasting impression.
Set up a mail forwarding or redirection to ensure you receive any mail sent after you have left.
Hand write thank you letters to your supervisor and those who you worked with and who helped you. Make sure you send these within a few days of your leaving if you cannot give them immediately.
Say goodbye to everyone and send a note to those you wish to say goodbye to but cannot find.
Share your career plans with your supervisor other key people you have met. Try asking them for advice in how they think you should develop a career in the industry. Ask them how they started and planned their career. Plan these questions but make them sound spontaneous. Typically people will be very happy to talk to you and be pleased you have taken an interest in them. You may find this sticks in their memory and the time may come when they have something to offer you. A significant company vacancies are never advertised but are filled through targeted approaches. You might want to plant the seeds for such a future approach.
Keep in touch with your company contacts. You can do this in a number of different ways – through social media such as Linkedin or through occasional emails. What do you say? Perhaps commenting on a success the company has had or a recent success you have had. Keep the updates brief and don't be boastful.
Keep in touch with your fellow interns (if any). They may end up in companies that could be of use to you in the future – and you to them.