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by Mary Crane

Over the next few weeks, your time as a summer associate or intern will rapidly come to a close. Do the following ten things to ensure that you leave on a high note:

  1. Transition work. Turn in completed work assignments. For any incomplete work that remains, prepare a short memo detailing what you’ve done and key tasks that remain outstanding. Provide the names and contact information of any individuals who provided key input on the project. Attach all supporting documentation. Make it as easy as possible for someone else to take your work product and finish the project.
  2. Meet with your supervisor(s). Ask for feedback. Listen carefully. If any feedback is less than positive, do not become defensive. Show your appreciation for your supervisor’s willingness to share his/her thoughts and time. Express a commitment to address any concerns.
  3. If you wish to retain a copy…. Don’t even think about asking to retain copies of any client work. If you helped a professional draft an article or electronic post, you may request permission to keep a copy. Just remember that your work product belongs to your employer. Don’t assume that you can automatically keep anything.
  4. Say “thank you.” In private conversations, thank everyone who contributed to your summer experience. Make a special trip to the recruiting department, and thank members of this team, too. Express your appreciation to other people—administrators, tech experts, librarians, mail personnel, and others—with whom you interacted throughout the summer.
  5. Share your career goals. If you hope that your summer experience will lead to a future job offer, clearly express this desire. Don’t assume that others know your goals and aspirations. Remember, even established politicians ask for votes.
  6. Prepare to stay in touch. Create a plan to stay in touch with key new contacts. Update your LinkedIn profile, adding information about your summer experience. Invite others—your peers, not the firm’s managing partner—to “link” to you.
  7. Forget gifting. Do not gift your supervisor or anyone else with whom you worked. Your good intent could be misinterpreted as an attempt to curry favor.
  8. Handwrite a thank-you note. Yes, it’s redundant and old-fashioned, but this note gives you one last opportunity to leave a positive impression with a supervisory lawyer and/or members of the firm’s hiring committee. Keep it short, simple, and sincere. Mail it within 48 hours of your last day of work.
  9. Update your résumé. While your summer experience is still fresh in your mind, craft four or five quality sentences that describe the experiences that you had and the skills that you acquired during your summer employment. Create a brief story that you can share during the upcoming interview season.
  10. Speak positively. As you head back to school, whenever you refer to your summer experience, speak positively … especially if you were disappointed. No one wants to hire a whiner or a complainer. Never burn a bridge.

Don’t let the end of your summer experience just happen. View it as one more opportunity to take charge of your career and close with class.