It’s incredible how fast ten weeks goes by! If you’re an intern you’re probably just one or two weeks away from wrapping up your summer gig. Believe it or not, there is a good way and not so good way to end your internship.
The not-so-good way is that you leave your office without a way to maintain a connection. Even if you don’t like the agency or have decided it’s not the practice area for you, the legal community is small and you should always make it a point to grow your professional network system and many students fail to do this right at the end of their stint.
What I tend to see (and what I used to do) is a good-bye with no follow-through. But before I delve into that, what are some key things you must-do as your internship ends:
One. Create a list of assignments and tasks you completed. This serves two purposes, 1) you keep it as a reference for the future on things you did (participated in voir dire, wrote a memo, etc.) and 2) it serves as a reminder to the attorney about everything you did so that they can see the progress made on cases and in the future they can easily list off your accomplishments when they’re giving you a reference.
Two. Update your resume. Do it ASAP—you’ll be searching for new work soon enough anyway, but you may as well update it now that your new skills are fresh in your mind.
Three. Save your work product. Obviously this depends on your firm’s rules but if it’s allowed then you should make sure to save a copy of any written docs you composed (memos, persuasive writings, research) that could help you in the future as either a writing sample or just a reference point for your own practice in the future.
Four. Ask for a reference! When you have your final meeting with your supervisor they will likely make the offer, but don’t be shy about asking for it if it doesn’t come up. You’ve put in ten + weeks of good work (hopefully, right?) and a reference is just a small gesture of appreciation the supervisor can offer. Don’t feel bad for asking about it.
Five. Follow through. Meaning, make sure you get their contact info before you leave—you may have it now, but once you’re locked out of the email system you won’t have access to it. Make sure you have their contact info and soon after the internship ends follow up with an email with your contact info so that you can keep in touch and can easily let them know when/if they should expect a call to act as a reference.
This last point is where a lot of students falter. They may say good-bye, but either fail to secure a reference or don’t maintain that contact after the internship ends. I’m not saying to constantly contact the attorney or to aim to become best friends with them, but remember that networking is about creating a support system. It’s easier for someone to give you a warm referral when they remember who you are and what you did for them versus having a reference struggle to remember your accomplishments because they barely remember you.