By Denise Woods, Audit Director - Employee Benefit Plans
The way you finish an internship really matters. You create a lasting impression. If you can leave on a high note, that’s what people tend to remember the most. Regardless of how your time went along the way, you can go out with a bang if you focus on the following things.
You probably started off strong and enthusiastic – a real “go getter”. And then, as most interns do, the transition, from school to long workdays, starts to get the best of you. Because our brains can only take in so much information, the work and behaviors that tend to be remembered most are those that happened last. That means not only doing the best job that you can until the bitter end, but also maintaining a positive attitude. Finishing strong is a sign of integrity and commitment!
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In many cases, you are the keeper of certain information, which needs to be handed-off to ensure a smooth transition. Therefore, you should do your best to tie up loose ends and turn in all completed work. If there is any unfinished business, do not leave others in the dark; communicate whatever remains to be done in an organized manner.
In the last few days of your internship, you may find some periods of time when things are slow because your internship is wrapping up, and it may not make sense to start you on a new project. If you find yourself with time on your hands, be proactive and look for opportunities to help others. Your co-workers will be grateful for the extra set of hands, and it will not go unnoticed by the management team.
Ask for Feedback at the End of Your Internship
Asking for honest feedback, especially at the end of your accounting internship, is a must. The internship period is so condensed and often takes place during the busiest time of the year, so even if you receive informal feedback on your work product along the way, it is quite possible that you are missing out on valuable insight. Show initiative and seek out how you performed from those you interacted with the most and with whom you developed a relationship.
People you meet during an internship can have a big influence on your future career. Before leaving, seek out these people and share what you learned from them. It will make them feel that their time with you was well spent. Be sure to thank them and say something memorable, either in person or in a written note. You should also connect with them on LinkedIn to stay in touch. I recommend including a personal message with such invitations.
Ace the Exit Interview
On your last day, you will likely be asked to have a discussion with the human resource manager. This exit interview, as it is called, provides the company with an opportunity to obtain honest feedback from you. Be prepared to discuss specific things that you enjoyed, people that you felt made a difference and obstacles that you may have overcome. Although you always want to keep it professional, don’t shy away from constructive feedback and/or new ideas on how to make a process better. Companies are always looking for ways to improve and will appreciate your insight. Lastly, be sure to express your desire for a long-term career with the company, regardless of if you have shared this information with other co-workers. This is also a good time to inquire about upcoming events that might be appropriate for you to attend – a post busy season bowling party or an on-campus recruiting event that you could assist with.
Although the last day can be hectic (with the exit interview, turning in your computer, etc.), take the time to walk around the office to shake hands and say good-bye to people. This is another chance to make an impression with a personal touch that goes a long way.
In the age of social media, it is easy to stay connected following your internship. The key is to leverage the available tools appropriately and in good taste. Post an occasional comment on the company’s Facebook page or on Instagram. Share about your internship experiences in a positive, encouraging way to support the firm and help recruit others.
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Think of your own unique ways to leave on a high note. It’s your time to shine!
If you happen to be starting an accounting internship soon, refer to the prior blog post on Accounting Internship Etiquette: How to Start on the Right Foot.