Bring Your Summer Work Experience to a Successful Close

From Mary Crane (, who conducts our 1L Etiquette Dinners.

The following activities will help you bring your summer work experience to a successful close:

Meet with key players and decision makers
Do a quick mental review of the people who you wished to meet during your summer employment. Identify any members of the organization’s hiring committee who you haven’t met as well as practice group leaders or division heads with whom you have not worked. Then, send an email(s) to these potentially important contacts and request 15 to 20 minutes of their time for a face-to-face meeting. Use these meetings to confirm your long-term interest in the organization. Be prepared to describe with whom you have worked and what you have learned during the summer.

Concerned that a decision maker may regard your request as a nuisance? If established professionals genuinely don’t have time to meet with you, trust me, they’ll tell you. In the meantime, today’s employers consistently report that they look for potential hires who show initiative. By proactively reaching out to key players, you demonstrate initiative as well as a commitment to taking responsibility for your career.

Close with class
Hopefully you’ve demonstrated professionalism throughout your summer employment. Don’t make the mistake of dropping your guard now. The impressions that you create during the next several days will be the lasting ones that many decision makers will hold onto for months to come. Every action you take should position you as a credible future member of your chosen profession. Focus on the following:

  • Complete all assignments. It’s particularly important that the last assignments you turn in demonstrate the knowledge that you’ve acquired and the skills that you’ve honed during your summer employment. Don’t let sloppiness creep in now. Triple check spelling and grammar. Review your analyses and conclusions.
  • Transition outstanding projects. Some of the projects to which you have been assigned may continue long after your departure. Where others will continue to work on a project, transition your work product to another team member. Prepare a summary memo of the key activities that you have undertaken. Note any tasks that remain outstanding and highlight upcoming deadlines. Include contact information (email addresses and phone numbers) for individuals with whom you’ve worked, especially external contacts.
  • Communicate your thanks. Communicate your appreciation to key members of the organization who assisted you throughout the summer. At a minimum, send a personalized email to anyone who gave you an assignment and reviewed your work. Don’t forget to thank members of the organization’s support team who helped you to complete tasks. Because so many professionals are inundated with hundreds of electronic messages daily, if you wish to make a lasting impression, drop by the offices of a few select individuals and thank them personally. Alternatively, within a week of your departure, send a handwritten thank-you note.
  • Share contact information with peers. If you’re smart, you started the summer with an explicit goal of laying the foundation for a life-long professional network. Before you and your fellow summer hires head back to school, exchange contact information and make a commitment to stay in touch. In the upcoming months and years, you and some of your summer colleagues will move in divergent directions. Staying connected may yield benefits that are currently unimaginable.

Remain professional on social media
Throughout the recruiting process, you likely received all sorts of warnings about what you should and should not post on social media. As your summer employment ends, continue to assume that anything and everything you post online will be accessed by current and future employers. Act accordingly.

Recent history is replete with stories about job offers that have been withdrawn after a recruit posted offensive or inappropriate content online. Avoid making an unforced error.

If your summer didn’t go as anticipated…
The most important lesson that some students gain from their summer employment is the knowledge that the work they were called upon to tackle is the last thing they want to do with the remainder of their lives.

If your summer didn’t pan out as you had anticipated, your conversations during the next several days are particularly important. Use this time to gather as much feedback as possible. If you learn that your natural talents did not match the needs of your summer employer, you know to use the upcoming recruiting season to seek out employers who need your unique talents. If instead you learn that you lack specific skill sets, identify how you can best acquire needed knowledge and capabilities. Don’t forget to confirm and clarify the culture in which you are most likely to thrive.

Maintain and display a positive attitude to the very end of your summer work experience and, in fact, beyond. The fact that Summer 2017 may not have progressed as you had hoped does not mean that you won’t have the opportunity to work for or with the same organization in the future.