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What to Do Before You Leave Your Internship

As the summer begins to draw to a close and the start of a new semester is in sight, it’s time to start winding things down at your summer internship. You’ve given it your all, learned a lot and had an all-around great experience. But, have you given any thought to how you’re going to leave? Are you going to make a grand exit or silently sneak out unnoticed? Not to be too dramatic, but the impression you leave will be lasting and could possibly affect your future endeavors, since it’s likely that your current colleagues are in your professional field of choice. So, as you prepare yourself to move on, be mindful of your actions. Below are some must-dos for soon-to-be ex interns.

Secure Your References

Some of the best things a student can gain through internships are reliable, relevant references that might help secure future jobs and positions. There’s just one thing though—you have to remember to ask. Sure, you can assume your supervisor is OK being listed as someone who will vouch for you, but that’s not really an assumption you want to make—especially if the quality of the work you performed under him or her can, in any way, be debatable. In my experience it has always been best to ask permission first and most almost always oblige—they may even throw in a flattering letter of recommendation if you play your cards right!

In addition to asking permission to use people as references, be sure you get all of their contact information. From phone numbers to email addresses and even office locations, it’s important to ensure all of the data you have is up-to-date and relevant. How unfortunate would it be to have a potential employer met with nothing but a busy signal or wrong number as they try to justify hiring you? Although it might seem like a minor detail, the truth is it can hurt your credibility and responsibility, causing your career prospect to lose faith in your qualifications. So before you leave, update that virtual rolodex.

Make Sure They Have Your Contact Information

While your name, number and address are likely on company records somewhere, it’s important to make sure those who worked with you direct, easy access to it. If you have a personal business card, give it to them, send it in an email—whatever you have to do to get your information out there do it—because just as it’s important for you to have their contact data, it’s also a wise decision to ensure they have yours.

Say they hear of a new job that is perfect for you and they’d like to give you a heads up on it, how are they going to reach you when the only number and email address they have for you are from when you were part of the company’s intranet and are therefore now invalid? It would be a shame to miss out on something simply because you were unreachable.

Luckily, this can be easily avoided by sending a simple “sign-off” email before your last day. Generally this includes a goodbye to everyone you have worked with while at the company, but it is also a great opportunity to include your personal contact information should anyone need or want to contact you after you leave. This way, as long as they don’t delete it, they’ll have an easily accessible copy of your information, should they need it. I also recommend including somewhere in your email how appreciative you are for having the opportunity to work with such great people. Even if the experience was less than ideal or wasn’t exactly what you expected, it was still a learning experience not everyone gets to have—so be grateful.

Save Work Samples

Last, but certainly not least, I suggest—actually I DEMAND—you use your last few weeks at your internship to back up and save copies of any notable work you did during your time there—provided it’s not in violation of company policy. This is especially important for creative professionals such as marketers, writers, designers, etc., whose portfolios depend on noteworthy, professional samples.

These are great ways to document the value and impact you added during your time there. Samples also offer a concrete way to exhibit your skills and experience to potential employers, so it’s definitely worth your time to stockpile them while you can.

Overall, when leaving an internship, the main rule of thumb is to not burn any bridges or leave a bad last impression. Although not always fair, it is rather true that in the end “it’s not what you know it’s who you know,” so leaving a bad taste in the company’s mouth will only hurt you in the long run. Remaining appreciative and professional will get you much further.

Lauren Bailey is a freelance blogger who loves writing about education, new technology, lifestyle and health. As an education writer, she works to provide information and advice to online college students and welcomes comments and questions via email at

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