All too often, the college students and recent graduates I talk to admit they have lost touch with colleagues from their internships or summer jobs. Sadly, this is not a gradual process of disengagement, but an unnecessarily rapid and complete break.
Just because you’ve completed your summer internship or job and are preparing to return to the academic grind, it doesn’t mean you need to quietly slip out the back door without being noticed. If you’ve had a positive experience, you ought to seek aspects of the relationships you formed that you can preserve rather than discard.
Unsure how to get ongoing benefits from your summer experience? Here are a few quick tips.
1. Solicit recommendations on LinkedIn.
To ensure your LinkedIn profile is complete and up-to-date, add your summer jobs or internships. Before you leave the job or internship, set a goal of getting at least one colleague to recommend you on your profile. If you try to do this after you have left the company, it will be much harder to follow up.
“Out of sight, out of mind” might be a cliche, but it’s the way things play out much of the time. In addition to seeking recommendations, it’s important to use LinkedIn to connect strategically with co-workers, so you can stay in touch and follow their updates over the next year. Remember to update your own profile throughout the year to reflect any changes or additions to your activities or job status.
2. Write a job description for your work at the company.
Job descriptions are sometimes approximations that prove inaccurate, incomplete, or outdated. As you near the end of your internship or job, consider leaving your co-workers with a description of the responsibilities of the position you were hired for, along with a list of your accomplishments. This not only reminds your colleagues of the impact you had during your tenure–good fodder for potential recommendations!–but also will prove extremely useful to the next hire.
3. Bring cookies or donuts to the office before you leave.
This will not only remind your co-workers that it is your last day, but it will leave them with positive memories of spending the summer with you and shows how much you appreciate their support. This small gesture can go a long way.
In the year following the conclusion of your summer job or internship, it’s not only completely appropriate to keep in touch periodically with the key people you worked with, but it’s a smart thing to do.
A brief email updating your former co-workers about your progress at school, a note for the holidays or a birthday, or even a visit to the office during a school break will help you maintain your relationship and connection to the organization. It will also avoid an awkward situation when you ask your former colleagues if you can solicit their help– and access to their networks–when you are looking for your next internship or your first job post-graduation.
Lesley is president and founder of Priority Candidates, which prepares college students and recent graduates nationwide to get hired for their first jobs. Previously, Lesley spent more than 25 years in executive search, working with candidates from entry level to C-Suite executives in organizations ranging in size from small, family owned businesses to large international organizations. Her fundamental knowledge of what hiring manager’s look for is the core of what Priority Candidates does to prepare college students/recent grads to get hired now. An alumnus of Duke University who is based in New York City, Lesley has been featured in USA Today, ABC’s New York Viewpoint with Ken Rosato, ABC News with Art McFarland, The New York Times, NY Nightly News with NBC4’s Chuck Scarborough, eCampus News and John Tucker’s Small Business Report on Bloomberg Radio. Lesley always welcomes connections via LinkedIn, on Twitter or by email or phone, available on her website.