3 things to do before you wrap up your summer internship

By Hillary Mantis

Before you leave your summer job and head back to school, you want to make sure you've made the experience a total success. Do you want to get a permanent offer? Or just good references? Either way there are some steps to take now to help pave the way.

Here are some strategies:

1. Introduce Yourself to Any Key Players You Haven't Met:

If you are like most of us, you've been focused on doing the research, writing and document editing. But you might have forgotten to network. When key players are deciding who to ask back, it won't be good for you if they say "Who's that? I haven’t heard of that person" when your name comes up. So try to introduce yourself to everyone, and get to know them before you leave. And by key players, I don't just mean the partners or VP's, I mean everyone you've worked with and might work with in the future.

2. Wrap Up All of Your Projects:

You might be asked to write a status report on ongoing projects. It will be appreciated if you try to wrap things up as much as you can, and write a detailed report. If there's something you've been involved with that's pending, you could offer to be available to answer questions about it after you leave. Or if you want to continue working there, offer to work part-time on the project after the summer ends. You definitely want the person picking up the project to be able to easily interpret your work.

3. Ask For References Now:

If you are not planning to return to the job, ask for references now, before you leave. Why? Because once you lose touch with people it becomes harder to get in contact with them later. Should you ask for a letter or a phone reference? It depends. If you think you will be applying to a fellowship, or something with a formal application, a letter would be helpful. If you think you will be applying for firm jobs, sometimes an agreement that your mentor will be willing to be a phone reference is more helpful.

If you are not sure, at least lay the groundwork for a future reference, be it a letter, or a phone call. "I've really enjoyed working here. Is it okay if I reach out to you in the future if I need a reference?" is an easy way to start the conversation. That way, if six months goes by before you reach out to them, they will be less surprised to hear from you, and more prepared to give you a reference.

You never know when you will run into the people you worked with this summer. You may even get to work with them again in the future. 

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Hillary Mantis is a career consultant who works with law students, pre-law students and lawyers. She is a Director of the Pre-Law Advising Program at Fordham University and author of Alternative Careers for Lawyers. For more information, you can contact Hillary at altcareer@aol.com.