Summer Associate Series: Ending an Internship Positively

How to End Your Internship Gracefully | CorporetteHow can you end an internship positively?  This week in our Summer Associate Series,* as the summer starts to wind down (for some, at least!), I thought we’d take a look back at some of our best posts on how to wrap up your summers, whether they be as summer associates or interns.  (If you do still have a few weeks of work left, though, you may want to check out our post on how to get the work you want, and how to network when you’re at the bottom of the ladder.)

Readers, what are your best tips for interns on how to end on a strong note?  How important is the home stretch in terms of making an impression?

(*Name aside, we hope this series will be helpful to ANY intern, whether you’re a law student or another woman interning in a conservative office for the summer.)  Check out our previous posts on general summer associate style, what to wear for the creative summer associate events, general business etiquette tips, and business lunch etiquette tips.

Finally, if you happen to be moving as your internship comes to a close, you may want to try out the tips in our type A guide to moving.

Readers, what other things should be on interns’ radars for the home stretch?  What are your best tips for ending an internship on a high note?

Pictured: Sun setting over Myrtleford, Victoria, originally uploaded to Flickr by James Jardine. (Gorgeous!)


N.B. PLEASE KEEP YOUR COMMENTS ON TOPIC; threadjacks will be deleted at our sole discretion and convenience. These substantive posts are intended to be a source of community comment on a particular topic, which readers can browse through without having to sift out a lot of unrelated comments. And so, although of course I highly value all comments by my readers, I’m going ask you to please respect some boundaries on substantive posts like this one. Thank you for your understanding!


  1. Anonattorney :

    Not much has changed from 2011 regarding accepting your job offer. You probably should know going into your meeting with the hiring coordinator whether the place is a “good fit.” The only remaining questions would be about compensation. By the end of the summer I would hope that you have taken time to talk to associates at the firm (if you’re in law) and figured out generally how people are compensated.

    If you are a summer associate at a law firm, in most cases I would not attempt to negotiate salary unless you are actually bringing something unique to the table–usually that means you will do a clerkship before starting, or you will graduate with a dual degree (JD/MBA), or you have other degrees or experience in a very niche field and you will be practicing law in that field. You can ask for a bump in salary, a signing bonus, or an additional year toward partnership. In my experience, firms are least likely to give you the last, and it may not matter that much as long as you get a bump in salary. Be prepared for the firm to just not negotiate and give you a take it or leave it offer.

    If you’re enthusiastic about working there, don’t be afraid to show it. I don’t know anyone who has been held back or penalized for being positive about their job. You don’t need to have a poker face. If you need a day to think about the salary they are offering, you can take it, but again, I’m not sure why anything should be a surprise at that point in the summer.

    • I agree. AnonAttorney is very smart. Here are my ideas ON-TOPIC:

      1. How to end an internship gracefully

      Alway’s be gracius, b/c you will need them for a reference. Even tho I did NOT get a full time offer, I was gracius to the guys at the goverment internship, even tho they were very sexist. FOOEY.

      2. Should you accept a job offer on the spot?
      I say YES. If they want me that badly, and I want to work there, why not? I am all for Kizzmet, meaning that if it is meant to be it is meant to be. I thought I finaly found a decent guy with Alan, but then he became a drunk, so I moved on. But as far as a job, if it doesn’t work, just say FOOEY and move on to the next one, like I did. YAY!

      3. What to say in your exit interview (and what not to say)
      See answer 1. Always be gracius. Do NOT say who was a jerk (they probably know) and make sure to show you would be interested in coming back, b/c you NEVER want to burn your britches.

      4. How to use LinkedIn to keep in touch with soon-to-be former colleagues
      They did NOT have this when I was an intern, but now that they do, USE IT! It is pretty good, I watch what Alan is doieing beside drinkeing and am even abel to see who he is dateing thru Facebook b/c his girlfreind p’osts there.

      5. What to do with your company email after you leave
      You MUST delete it b/c it is confidential. You should NOT have personal stuff on the company’s email, but just delete it from your iphone b/c you don’t need it anyway. This way, you can show your serious about being a worker bee for them. YAY!!!

  2. At my big firm, it’s still a negative surprise if you don’t accept on the spot. Although even worse is the summer who accepts on the spot and then changes their mind.

    • That’s an interesting point RR. I’m not in law but would actually prefer that the intern or whoever is being offered a job to not accept it on the spot. It shows me that this person thinks and plans strategically about everything they do. I would hope that they are excited to get the offer but would also say something like “Thank you for this offer. I am thrilled but would like a few days to make sure that I am making the correct decisions for myself, my family and this organization.” Of course, they interned at the agency because they want to work there but its also them testing out the office environment and thus, they need to take a few moments to think if (after being there for a few months) the office is right for them. I guess it goes back to your second point about it being worse if you accept and change your mind later.

      • Personally, I totally agree with you. I don’t mind someone taking a moment to reflect. However, I know that it does not go over well with some of the people in my department. It’s not like we’d withdraw the offer or like it keeps people from doing well, but the person does come in with that small mark against them because everyone knows that they didn’t accept on the spot and that the higher ups were annoyed.

      • Anonymous :

        I think the difference between biglaw firm and non-biglaw/non-law is that in biglaw, there generally should not be any surprises on the terms of the offer. They expect you to use the summer to figure out whether it would be a good fit, so you should be prepared by the last week to know whether you’ll accept or not.

        I’m not saying this is my view, but in the minds of the biglaw partners like those RR works with, when a summer asks for time to reflect it probably sounds to them like the summer is saying “Wow, I thought this summer was just for free lunches and Beyonce tickets! I did not consider at all the possibility that I might be asked to come work here full-time. I’m going to have to get back to you on that.”

        • That’s very true. I can see how this might go in that direction. Its like you’re seriously dating someone and you guys talk about marriage but once the person proposes, you say “hmmm….let me think about it for a couple weeks and I’ll let you know.” LOL

    • Do your summers do split summers with another firm? I would be surprised if I made an offer to a summer and he/she accepted on the spot if he/she was going to be working for 6 weeks at another firm after mine. Texas is a little weird with the split summers, though.

      • Lady Tetra :

        I split my summer at two firms in Texas, and neither gave offers on the spot. Both called in September to give offers.

      • Most of our summers don’t, and I don’t think we even make offers on the spot to summers going to another firm for the second half of the summer. Nonetheless, we’d expect a quick acceptance at the end of the summer.

      • I split my summer in Texas as well and offers were given in August/September. When I was on the hiring committee, it was considered bad form to offer to a Summer 1 intern.

        At least in Texas, the offer is what the offer is, you can try to negotiate but the offer will still stand. We only increased offers when the intern was clerking for a year (they began at Associate 2 or 3 depending on the clerkship.)

  3. I think this is very much a “know your office” situation. The norm at my firm is *not* to accept on the spot. What is popular is, if you are planning to accept, to let it generally be known to your mentor / the recruiter / someone on the hiring committee that you were very happy and are probably going to accept, you just want to have a few weeks on the experience / apply for a clerkship / talk to your SO. Then accept a month or two later. That way the hiring committee has a good sense of numbers for who is coming back and you look thoughtful.

    I know other firms are like RR’s though — a lot of pressure to accept on the spot, celebrating those who do, etc.

    • Anonattorney :

      Isn’t that kind of disingenuous, though? If you are not splitting your summers at the firm you are clerking at while in law school, what really is your other option? What are you doing for that month while you are making your “decision”? I understand giving it a couple of days to think over the benefits and see if you have any room to negotiate, but a month seems like a very long time. Also, aren’t most clerkships applied for and accepted before or during your 2L summer? (VERY few federal judges follow OSCAR, and at least in my state, all supreme court clerkships are handed out in the early summer).

      I guess I don’t know what you have to lose by accepting quickly, if you don’t actually have anything to think about. If you do need time because you honestly have concerns about accepting the offer, then take a week, at most. This job market is still very very bad for law students. In my opinion, if you know you want the job (or don’t have any better options), there is no risk by accepting immediately. There is risk by waiting, especially if you are doing it just to show that you are “thoughtful.” You can appear thoughtful in other ways.

      • Anonattorney :

        Sorry – one more note on clerkships. If you think you want to do a clerkship and still have time to apply, I would bring this up when they make you the offer. Say that you’re interested in applying for clerkships, and ask what about firm policy. This may be a dealbreaker and they may say they won’t hold a spot for you. Alternatively, they could hold the spot and give you a clerkship bonus. Even better, they may be so excited about you doing a clerkship that they will make calls to judges they know and put in a good word for you.

  4. Much to my annoyance, I’ve always cried easily. Does anyone have any tips for how they hold this back in the office? This is by no means a routine thing, but in the past year I’ve twice started crying in front of a mentor and it’s very embarrassing. Thinking things like “this isn’t worth crying over” or “no one is angry with me” on repeat in the moment do not help at all. Both instances it’s been her checking up on my wellbeing and how I’ve been doing during particularly stressful times – never an instance where I ever actually did something wrong. What seems to set me off is the concern on my end that I’m letting people down or that there’s a perception I can’t handle everything. Please give me some advice, or at least commiseration, this is just horrible and I feel so embarrassed for having no control over my emotions!

    • Commiseration here! I cry really easily too. Thankfully, I haven’t quite done it in a work environment yet, although I did tear up during one bad review. :(

    • TO Lawyer :

      Commiseration here too! I also cry very easily – when I’m frustrated or stressed (or overtired), my default reaction is tears.

      In the moment, I try to swallow hard and focus – if I can do that, I can usually delay the tears. But I’ve definitely cried in my office (with the door closed) or in the bathroom. I wish I could react differently but I don’t so I’ve stopped beating myself up for it – I just try not to do it in front of a supervisor.

    • I have found that I only do this when there is stress in other aspects of my life.

    • Same same… I was once walked in on crying in my closed door office by a partner (who did not knock, there was no window, etc), it was horrible. Since then, although expressions of concern for my wellbeing do make me want to cry, for the same reasons, I do what TO does – do my best to focus hard and wait until I am alone or can escape to the bathroom on another floor. Getting older/more hardened in my job has helped, too.

    • I used to cry easily, but have gotten over it. I’m not really sure how – age, maybe? I’ve been around long enough that I’ve seen things go wrong in all sorts of ways. I also do a lot of yoga, though I’m not sure if there’s a relation. Maybe I’ve just learned to disassociate it with myself?

    • Maddie Ross :

      How far along in your career are you? I used to cry really really easily my first three years or so. Not just at the office, but at home too about work. I’m nearly 10 years into my practice though now and I haven’t cried at work or about work in ages. You do get hardened to things, I think.

    • baseballfan :

      I have had this problem as well and I’ve been working for 20 years. Some time ago I heard the advice to have a glass of water around because swallowing liquids and crying are mutually exclusive. Of course, you may not always have time to prepare!