Quick! Build Professional Relationships Before Your Internship Ends

By Kaitlin Hurtado on August 9, 2017

As the end of summer is approaching, many internships are also coming to an end if they’re only intended to last for the summer. You may be counting down the days until the end of your internship if you feel like all you’ve been doing is coffee runs and busy work for the office, or you may be dreading the idea of ending your time with the company after spending the summer with them.

However, instead of focusing on the inevitable end, focus on the time that you have left and the opportunities that the internship is still offering you — mainly the opportunity to build professional relationships with your fellow interns and coworkers.

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Go out of your comfort zone

If you haven’t already, don’t be afraid to reach out of your comfort zone. Whether you’ve kept minimum contact with your coworkers over the course of your internship or kept to a small circle of fellow interns, break out of your habits and reach out to those you haven’t been in contact with.

Not reaching out to those you see every day on the job is a wasted opportunity. Regardless of how much time someone has spent with the company or how much they have experienced, you never know what they have to offer you at the moment, or in the future.

They can give you advice or know-hows by telling you how they got to the company, give you leads on future opportunities in the company and elsewhere if you keep in contact, and much more.

Take the first steps out of your comfort zone by approaching coworkers after a meeting. Introduce yourself so they can associate your name with your face later on, which comes in handy if they are able to point out what you have done in the internship. Show genuine interest in your work as an intern — refer back to the meeting, discuss points of interest, bring up any questions you may have. Asking questions and engaging in a discussion shows that you are committed to your work as an intern and are willing to work more, making you stand out among other interns and upping the probability of making you memorable.

Build the relationship by continuing to show genuine interest 

Regardless of whether a relationship is professional or personal, it doesn’t grow to be a strong one just by introducing yourself and hoping for the best. You need to work to build the relationship and maintain it. Even if you take the first step to introduce yourself, you may not be lucky enough for them to recognize you every time you run into them after or for them to seek you out first.

You don’t want to be unprofessional and borderline stalk them in the office hallways or figure out/follow their break schedule, but you do want to put in the effort to make sure you stay on their radar for the remainder of your internship. Don’t be afraid to come up to them for questions (so long as they are good questions that you could not get the answers for yourself) or to make small talk if you run into them at the office.

If you do end up catching them, do not be afraid to reach out to them. Talk about a current project going on — your questions about it or about the coworker’s involvement with it. Showing interest in both the company projects and the employee, you are showing that you are aware of what’s going on and that you are willing to learn about it.

If you get lucky, the employee will invite you to engage in a discussion about the project, treating you as a peer and giving you the experience and information to benefit your future. You are not only learning more about the work you would hope to do in your future career but also getting closer to a professional in the career you are interested in and one that is willingly helping you.

Be cautious how your interactions come off, however. You do not want to appear as if you are kissing up to company employees or seeking handouts post-internship. Maintain a balance of genuine interest and professionalism, as you are still in a work environment.

Stay connected 

After you put all the work into building professional relationships before your internship ends, don’t let your efforts go to waste by not setting up a way to stay connected and maintain the relationship after the end of your internship. It may be easy to get the contact information of company employees depending on what kind of internship you find yourself in or how much contact you have with employees.

You may have easy access to their work numbers and emails, but you are better off having their personal numbers and emails (emails are often what you will get). Getting their work contact information is great as long as they are employees at the company, but when they move companies it will be easy to lose contact. Having at least part of their personal contact information will not only increase your chances of staying in contact but also let them know that any email or call from you may be worth looking at if they bothered to give you their personal contact information.

One of the easiest ways to keep in contact is adding them as a connection on LinkedIn. This gives you the opportunity to have a secure way to contact them and for them to endorse you as an employee for future opportunities.

By Kaitlin Hurtado

Uloop Writer
Hello! I'm Kaitlin, a second year Literary Journalism major at UC Irvine. I'm a writer on Uloop's national team and a campus editor for UCI.

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