07 Jul My High School Internship Is Done…Now What?
You did it! You completed your high school internship and gained valuable experience that will benefit you for the rest of your professional life. Now you can kick back, relax, and enjoy the rest of your summer…said no one ever. Don’t squander the lead you’ve been given! While you absolutely can use this time to rest and reflect- don’t forget to utilize the valuable information and experience that you’ve just gained to launch you towards future opportunities. What you do after an internship experience is almost as important as your work during your internship. Now is the time to really stand out and these next few days are critical.
First Things First….
Before you go, make sure you grab a few key things. Communication is critical in the workplace and leaving is no exception. Did you get the emails or numbers of the valuable people you worked with? Connections are worth their weight in gold in the professional world, and you just spent all summer gathering new ones. Don’t leave them behind! Continue to communicate with those who had an impact on you via email, text, LinkedIn- your choice! Keep in contact with the connections you chose. By maintaining a working relationship to your connections, you open yourself up to future possibilities. Ask your contacts for advice and guidance as you continue on in your professional journey.
Now is also a great time to ask them to evaluate and give you feedback on what you are like to work with. Ask them how you could improve your coworking skills. Though uncomfortable- what they say can give you amazing insights into where you need to develop professionally. This will help you prepare for whatever comes next in your budding working life. Try specifically requesting an exit interview in the last few weeks of your internship with a trusted superior. Really listen to their feedback, it’ll help you grow!
Take A Beat To Reflect
You just completed a whole new experience in your road to professionalism! Did you like your internship? Did you like the work you did? What specifically did you enjoy? What did you not enjoy? Internships allow you to explore how you best operate in the work world and where you could fit. Take this time to really consider what it is that you want to learn more about or pursue. This is a wonderful time to whip out the ‘ole journal and do some stream of consciousness reflecting on your experience. You can pull this out when it comes time to search for another role!
Just as you asked others for feedback, now is a great time to be honest with yourself and see where you think you could have improved, grown, or pushed a bit harder. By giving yourself feedback, you hold yourself accountable in a way that fosters growth. As this was a high school internship, it might very well have been your first professional experience at all, so allow yourself to realistically evaluate your own performance. See what skills you can develop that will help you in your future career and find out how you can grow them outside of your internship. More on that later.
Interning as a high school student means you likely have a bit of time before you need to decide what you’d like to do for work in the long term. Great! Now is the moment to pivot if you landed in a world you don’t see yourself in. What else exists that is adjacent to what you found yourself liking in your internship? What pathways did you discover that you had no idea even existed prior? Don’t feel stuck! There’s no shame in starting down a path and then realizing it simply isn’t for you. Treat your high school internship as a test to determine whether what you thought you’d like to do, is actually, for you.
The Grind Never Stops
Now that you’ve made your own conclusions as well as gathered feedback from others, you can begin research for the next step. Do you want to learn a new skill that you noticed you were missing at your internship? It’s a great time to hunker down and begin working on developing that skill. It’s also a wonderful time to hunt for your next opportunity whether that be a formal internship, or a class, or volunteer work that can all keep your skills sharp. While there’s no need to rush, it’s a good idea to take advantage of this down time, and really lean into discovering the gaps in your experience and try to fill them.
A budding idea in the workplace is the idea of growing your own life experiences in order to make yourself more interesting and appealing (both in the workplace and beyond!). With all your freetime- this is both a fun and rewarding idea to work on. Having 3 experiences that you can discuss with an employer that are unique and have helped shape you, not only helps add richness to your life but also to you as a future job candidate. Take this time to try a crazy new hobby, learn something unique off of Youtube, or go visit family members in another state. All of these things help grow your experiences and allow you more to draw upon in conversations in the future.
Now that you’ve completed your high school internship, make sure to capitalize off of all of your hard work and make sure to set your future up for success. While it may be tempting to forget about the whole experience and move on back into your old routine- don’t! You’ll waste valuable time and resources if you don’t spend a little time reflecting on this experience.
P.S. If you really enjoyed your work, or work environment, it might be nice to send a thank you note/email to those who helped you learn!