It’s important that whatever you do on the last day of working as an intern, that you leave on a good note. You can do this by continuing to work hard throughout the day. Not only will this type of effort be impressive to your supervisor, but it could be something that they remember about you when future employers call on them as a reference. My last task of my internship was putting materials in folders for our Executive Director, for meetings he would have with political leaders and potential donors. To say the least, these packets had to look good so that the people that the Executive Director would meet with would have a positive impression of the work our organization does. On my last day, it was actually the day that I was at the work for the latest, since there were quite a lot of these packets to make and I was assigned to make them very late in the working day. I was focused on doing a good job on these packets, and in hindsight, I’m very glad that I put a lot of effort into them. Finish strong!
This summer, most of the work that I’ve done has been what’s called “prospecting,” which is the process of finding potential donors to an organization. The difficulty of this task depends on a few factors, including how many donors an organization has already prospected, the notoriety of the organization, and how narrow its mission is.
I was able to use my liberal arts education, which to me means that I was able to think critically about the profile of what a good prospect is, in my time at The Fairness Project. Instead of filtering online for people who had given the largest donations to any political campaign or organization, I filtered based on specific organizations whose missions and values are in line with that of The Fairness Project. Not only did this save me a significant amount of time, but it also got me a lot more people who were more likely to donate to The Fairness Project than the typical political donor would be.
If your internship doesn’t involve prospecting, which is quite likely, there are still a few things you can take away from my experience. The most important one, in my opinion, is that using your critical thinking skills, as honed during your time at Dickinson, will save you time and make your work more efficient.
The most important thing, other than experience and exposure to a field, that students receive from an internship is the connections you have made with colleagues. When you finish your internship, I personally feel that thank you notes (or emails if your handwriting as bad as mine) are a great way to leave on a good note. There’s a chance that when your colleagues think about you and your performance, they could think of the thank you note, so they’re worth putting a good amount of time and thinking into.
The tone of the thank you note can vary based on your relationship with the colleague you’re writing it to. However, it should remain professional, so having only inside jokes is probably not the best idea. When I wrote my thank you notes, based on the fact that the office was small and I knew everyone, I tried to refer to learning opportunities I had from the summer involving the colleague I was writing to. For example, I could write to someone thanking them for showing me how to use software during my first week.
In terms of who you decide to write thank you notes to, that’s up to you, but my philosophy on it was that it’s better to write too many thank you notes than to write too few. If people, especially in a small office like I worked in, are talking about your note on the week after you leave, it allows for the opportunity for people who didn’t receive them to feel left out and unappreciated. Since I appreciated and genuinely enjoyed connecting and learning from all of my colleagues, I wrote them each an individualized thank you note.