You are in the middle of a spring internship and you only have about 4-6 weeks left. This is a great time in the process to ask yourself, “Have I built a strong relationship with the executives at this company?” Since most internships only last one semester, it’s not easy to build below-the-surface or real relationships with your team in such a short amount of time. Here are a few tips on how to secure these relationships and make them last throughout the rest of your career:
1. Find Out What Your Team Enjoys Outside of The Office. If your internship is virtual or an in-office position, I’ll bet there is some small talk that happens at the beginning of the day when people say what they’re up to, what they did the night before, and vent about what’s on their mind. For example, if you interned at InternQueen.com, you’d know that Shayna, our campus programs manager, loves the gym. You’d know that Lindsey, our digital marketing manager, just got back from India and loves to travel. Make notes about these fun facts so that when you follow up with them in the future (after the internship) you can ask them questions about their personal life and create a more meaningful connection.
2. Find Out When Their Birthday Is. A great way to stay in touch with people after the internship is to write down their birthdays as reoccurring events in your calendar. I always say that people love when the birthday phone rings – and it’s true. Getting in touch with people on their birthdays is a great way to stay connected and make that person smile!
3. Understand How They Got To Where They Are Today. Everyone is busy these days and executives probably don’t have the time to answer random questions about how they got started in the middle of the day. Ask members of your team if you could grab a cup of coffee with them one day either at lunch or outside of working hours. If your internship is virtual, ask if you could set up a brief informational call. Ask how the person got started and really try to understand how they got to where they are today. Make a note of where they went to school and any other companies they worked for. If you see an article about their school in the newspaper or you see their school basketball team wins March Madness – you can shoot them a note – another tactic to stay in touch.
4. Make Sure They Know What Drives You. Over the years, a few of our interns have made sure that I’m aware of what they want to do. They’ve set up calls to ask me career-related questions or texted me for advice. Just the other day, our intern Lauren asked me a question about an interview dilemma she’s facing. These are great interactions because not only are the interns getting valuable “FaceTime” and hopefully an answer to their questions but they are also helping me better understand their goals which is important. I need to know their dream jobs so I can possibly help them if something comes across my desk in the future.
5. Stay in Touch After the Internship. Anyone whose heard me speak remembers my “3 times per year” rule. At this point, my company has been bringing on interns each semester (3 semesters per year) since 2009. That means that I’ve probably had about 40 interns (I hope I did that math correctly). Out of those 40 interns, I’d say that about 10 stay in touch with me regularly. What happened to the other 30? If these students were doing a good job staying in touch, I would know where they work, where they live, and generally speaking – what they are up to. Think about it. How can you keep your former internship supervisor in the loop on your career?
For more internship advice, please read ALL WORK, NO PAY my book on internships!