How to Leave an Internship

Leave a good impression at an internship.

Leave a good impression at an internship.

How you leave an internship says just as much about you as how you did the job. Take the time to wrap everything up professionally before walking out the door. Internship supervisors and coworkers are beneficial contacts you’ll have forever — if you say goodbye in the right right way.

Schedule an exit interview with your direct supervisor to get a better understanding of your work performance and to learn about any areas in which you need further development. It’s also a chance for an organization to get feedback about the internship, so you should talk about your experience. Let him know what you’ve learned and what you’ll take away from this opportunity.

Set up additional interviews with other staff members, particularly those you’ve been in close contact with during the internship. Five to 10 minutes is all you really need to sit down and ask questions on how to succeed in your chosen field. Most people will be willing to offer their advice.

Finish up any projects left on your desk. Failing to complete assigned tasks can sour an otherwise successful internship and tarnish your reputation. Get everything done in a timely fashion.

Offer to stay on in a freelance capacity. Employers value applicable experience, and what could be better than experience earned right there on the work floor? Give the supervisor an idea of your hourly rate, if your internship was a paid one; he might take you up on the offer.

Make copies of your work to add to your professional portfolio. It’s much easier to gather examples while still interning than it is after you leave. Of course, always ask permission before doing so — you don’t want to break any company confidentiality policies.

Collect colleague business cards and contact information to make it easier to stay in touch, and consider printing some business cards of your own to exchange. On top of work experience, an internship can build your professional network. These people could connect you to decision-makers at other organizations that may just be hiring.

Ask for references from the people who know you best. Even if they’re not bigwigs at the organization, those people who’ve worked closely with you can best vouch for your work and talk about your performance. But, get an idea of what they might say before enlisting their help. Simply ask, “What would you say if I were to use you as a reference?”


  • Before starting an internship, set some personal goals for yourself — and make them specific. Internships are opportunities to learn “on-the-job” skills to take with you as you enter the workforce. If, for example, you’re interning at a foundation, you may want to set a goal of writing a portion of a grant by the end of your tenure.
  • Show your gratitude for the opportunity by thanking everyone involved in the experience. Thank everyone, from your direct supervisor to the receptionist at the front desk.

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About the Author

Based in Minneapolis, Minn., Dana Severson has been writing marketing materials for small-to-mid-sized businesses since 2005. Prior to this, Severson worked as a manager of business development for a marketing company, developing targeted marketing campaigns for Big G, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, among others.

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