Your internship just ended. Now what?

By: Bailey Irelan, Communications Specialist at Hot Paper Lantern

After a successful internship, it’s all too easy to slip back into your normal routine and let the connections and work you put in fade into the background. Making the most of an internship experience goes far beyond your time at the company. Here are three things you can do to make sure you get the full benefit of your internship – after you walk out of the company’s office for the last time. A little continued effort and planning can ensure the hard work you put in during your internship doesn’t go to waste.

Reflect

Most internships are whirlwind experiences, an intense time period where you’re absorbing so much information and pushing yourself to perform at the best of your ability. Take the time after your internship to reflect on your experience and narrow down on your takeaways. What type of task most energized you? What did you keep putting off until the last minute? Was the size of the company too large and overwhelming, or too small and stifling? Analyzing what you experienced and what made it great or lacking in an area will help inform your career path. 

Keep up to date within the world you worked in

Keep track of the fruits of your labor. Did the product launch you helped plan go off without a hitch and bring in media hits? Note that for your own resume. You had a part in it, so own it. It’s a good idea to periodically read the trade publications for the industry as well. Keeping up to date on new competitors, changes in leadership teams and shifts in the overall industry will serve you well as you start interviewing for entry-level jobs. It will also help steer you toward – or away from – the right companies for your values and skills. 

Take “keep in touch” seriously

Maintaining the relationships you built while at the company is the single most important action you can take to get the most out of the time you put in during your internship. When people said, “keep in touch,” as you left, they meant it. However, the ball is in your court. It’s up to you to reach out every so often and check in with the people with whom you worked. Maintain the relationships well ahead of when you think you’ll need a favor from them, whether that’s serving as a reference or to be the first person they think of when an open position becomes available.

The cliché is overused, but true: finding what you don’t want to do is just as important as finding what you do want to do. While you are in school, your time is limited and it’s imperative that you use every opportunity to find one more piece of the puzzle you’re building as your future career. The connections you make during internships may prove to be the most valuable assets as you enter the job market. It’s all too easy to get busy with school after an internship, but you won’t regret reflecting on your experience, reading up on the industry, and most importantly, building on the connections you made. They could be the difference in landing your dream job. 

Hot Paper Lantern is a NYC-based marketing and communications agency that helps brands launch, grow, adapt, and transform.

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