A few weeks ago, I was looking to fill an internal social media position – the first of its kind at Domino’s. Among the many resumes I saw was one from an EMU public relations graduate who had been an intern for me about five years ago. You’d think that this would make her a “lock” to be on my short-list of candidates, and normally, it would. This time, though, it wasn’t.Why? It wasn’t that she had done a bad job while she was here. I would have remembered that. The problem was that I couldn’t remember her at all. Not a thing.
Not only had she made no lasting impression on me during her internship, she never checked in with me afterward to let me know where’s she at or how she’s doing at her current job. Then it dawned on me that virtually none of my previous interns have ever bothered to stay in touch.
That’s a missed opportunity, I think, because as the cliché goes: “out of sight, out of mind.”
Here’s what I suggest students do to get the most out of an internship, during and after:
- First, do the best you can right from the beginning. (If you falter here, none of the rest of this will matter, anyway.)
- Show up on time and dressed professionally.
- Make sure your writing is crisp and don’t be disappointed when your work is edited. We all have editors!
- Speak like a grown-up.
- Focus on learning what you can about your role and the role PR plays in the organization you’re at. Take advantage of the time you have to get the best experience you can.
- Maintain a positive attitude, learn from your mistakes, and look for opportunities to get open, honest feedback. Ask what else you can do to add value to the role.
- When your internship is complete, make it a point to thank the people who worked with you during your time there (not just the person who supervised you). Let them know you appreciated what they did for you.
- Ask your supervisor if you can list him/her as a reference for your future job searches. (You’d be amazed at how many students don’t do this.)
- If there was anyone else you worked with who would make a good reference, ask them, too.
- Then, use those references!
- Every six months or so, feel free to send your supervisor an email to say hello and provide a bit of news about yourself: update her/him on where you’re working or how your search is going. If you’re a candidate for a job, remind them that they might hear from a future employer about you.
As you can see, I’m not suggesting weekly calls, “friending” them on Facebook or sending birthday cards every year. Nor am I suggesting you check in just to see if there are any job openings.
I’m suggesting that in the course of a months-long internship, you have the chance to build a solid, long-term professional relationship – one that could lead to a full-time career opportunity, because you can become part of your supervisor’s network. Wouldn’t it make sense to nurture that relationship a little bit? Or, would you really rather be forgotten?
Tim McIntyre, Domino’s Pizza
Tim McIntyre, a 1985 graduate of Eastern Michigan University, is Vice President of Communication at Domino’s Pizza LLC.