Your internship is coming to a close and a new semester is on the horizon – you’re probably already thinking of being back on campus and how you’ll balance classes, clubs and a social life. But if you’re a junior or senior, you also might already be thinking of next year’s internship or job and how to get it.
Hopefully, you spent your internship working hard, learning as much as possible and taking the opportunity to connect with your coworkers or higher-ups. But to get the most out of your internship, you shouldn’t leave the office on your last day without a plan to maintain those valuable connections, especially with your internship supervisor. Your direct supervisor throughout a past internship can advocate for you to receive a full-time return offer. They can also be used as a professional reference for other opportunities
However, you shouldn’t expect your former supervisor to go to bat for you if you don’t take the time to continue a professional relationship after your internship ends. It can be tough to navigate the best way to do this, though. How can you keep in touch without feeling like you’re bothering them? There are a few ways you can start building a professional relationship as soon as your internship ends – here’s how.
Connect and engage on appropriate social media sites
A great way to stay in touch even after you have left the office is to connect with your former supervisor on LinkedIn if you haven’t already. Once you’re connected, you can now use this as a way to periodically re-engage. Occasionally like or comment on updates and articles, especially if it’s a topic you’re interested in. You can also send them a congratulatory message if they post about a promotion or accomplishment at their company.
Beyond LinkedIn, gauge what’s appropriate when connecting through other social platforms. For example, your former supervisor might be very active on Twitter, sharing their thoughts on the industry and weighing in on relevant topics. If that’s the case, following them on Twitter and interacting with their tweets through liking, retweeting or quote tweeting is an appropriate way to stay in touch. However, make sure your Twitter is professional before following a work contact and interacting with their tweets. While you might think your former supervisor is too busy to pay attention to your tweets, you wouldn’t want to be caught in a sticky situation if they do happen to check and your profile isn’t appropriate.
As for Facebook and Instagram, tread carefully. Facebook is typically more personal, and therefore off-limits. Even if you and your supervisor got along well, avoid their Facebook unless they send you a friend request first, which is unlikely to happen. Like Twitter, Instagram can be appropriate if your boss uses it professionally, or if they’ve encouraged you to follow their public account.
When it comes to social media, use your best judgement. Play it safe and interact on LinkedIn, and use Twitter and Instagram only if your former supervisor is professionally active.
Shoot them a message about a cool project or initiative they worked on
Everyone loves compliments, especially when it’s about a big project they worked really hard on. Pay attention to any new features, initiatives, articles or projects that come out of your former workplace, especially if any of those things were in the process of being created when you interned there.
This is where connecting on social media is useful. If you see something that your former supervisor had a hand in, shoot them a message via email or LinkedIn congratulating them and pointing out something that stood out about the project, initiative, etc. However, make sure your compliment is sincere. It’s better to send nothing at all than to send a generic “Congrats!” message, or to make a vague, inaccurate statement about the project.
Ask to grab coffee if you’re in their city
If you live in a different location from where your internship was located, shoot your former supervisor an email if you ever find yourself back in the city and have time to grab coffee on your trip. This is something that should be used pretty sparingly – if you’re back a month or two after your internship ended, you can probably skip this. But if it’s been four months or more, it wouldn’t hurt to see if your former boss could grab a quick afternoon coffee to catch up. If you attend school in the same city you interned, use the same timeline. Allow enough time to pass where you actually have something to talk about, but not so much time that you’ve let the relationship fizzle out.
When reaching out, make sure you make it clear that the meeting won’t take up too much of their time, and set the tone for the meeting and why you’re interested in meeting up. Maybe you want their advice on how they used their last few years of college to set themselves up for a successful career, or you want their insight on the direction of your career.
If they agree to a coffee meeting, great – make sure you come prepared with talking points and don’t rely on them to keep the conversation going. You can also offer to buy their coffee as a thank you for meeting!
Circle back when you’re looking for new opportunities
When it comes time again to start looking for an internship or job, it’s a good idea to circle back with your internship supervisor. While the application timeline for jobs and internships varies depending on the industry you’re in, make sure you have maintained some relationship with this supervisor before reaching out and asking for a recommendation or a connection for your next opportunity. If your internship search begins immediately after your other internship ends, your timeline is much shorter. But for those of you who will start an internship or job search more than three months after your most recent internship, maintain the relationship and reach out when the time is right.
Whether you’re looking to get hired at the same place you interned or you need a professional reference for another role, maintaining a relationship with your internship supervisor before you ask for a favor is essential. Start building the foundation of a great professional relationship now, and reap the benefits later on in your job search.