How to Finish Your Internship with Grace

by Vault Education Editors | August 13, 2009

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After weeks of analyzing, researching and working, your summer internship is finally coming to a close. If all goes well, you've thoroughly enjoyed your experiences and have an offer for a full-time position, either in the fall or after graduation. Unfortunately, not all internships end this way and you may find yourself forced to look for another position. Whether it's because it wasn't that kind of internship, the company isn't in a position to hire new employees or they just don't want to hire you, learning that you won't be getting a full-time job offer is never easy news to take.

Although your first response may be anger and disappointment, try to use the situation as a learning experience. Ask your manager for a review. Seeking a performance evaluation will demonstrate maturity and a willingness to accept criticism. Just make sure you don't come off confrontational or dismissive--remember that if you worked hard, it's probably not something you did that lost you the offer. Take their comments to heart and use them as a jumping off point for your next job search. Being able to conquer your weaknesses is an asset to any job applicant and will ensure that you won't make the same mistakes twice. Plus, if weren't passed over because of your performance, a review will be an opportunity to hear all the good things you did, which will make the blow of the absent offer less hard.

Remember to stay positive, especially if you still have a few more days or weeks left in your program. Whatever you do, do not slack off. Internships, by nature, are temporary assignments and you knew that going in. Instead of holding a grudge, thank your managers for their guidance and let them know you appreciate all that you've learned. There may not be an opening in the organization right now, but that doesn't mean there won't be one in the future. And when there is, you want to be at the top of the list of people to call. Plus, in any job search, networking is king. You never know when or where you'll come across your co-workers and managers again, so don't do anything that could jeopardize your chances of being considered for future opportunities. Just because another door will have to open somewhere else doesn't mean you should close this one behind you.

Whatever the reason you aren't asked to come back, don't let the lack of a job offer get you down. Worse comes to worst, at least you got some valuable experience under your belt that you can bring to your future career. So instead of deleting company files or pouring coffee on the keyboard, remember to end your internship on a high note. That way, in addition to a few references, you'll also be leaving with your dignity.

-Posted by Rebecca Zissou

Filed Under: Education

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