How to Take an Exit Interview

When exiting an internship, closing the door with a smile and fond sayonara may feel like all that is necessary. However, there are things you can do to create good-will, help you learn from your experience, and position yourself better for the future. Some companies have what they call exit interviews in which they hope to get a sense of how they might improve their program for future interns. However, you can take charge of your own exit interview to serve both you and your company well.

  1. Organize all your work from the internship into a clearly labeled folder so it can be found by your boss and whoever your future replacement happens to be.
    Let your boss know about the status of any just completed or outstanding projects. Even if you are in the middle of a long term project, make sure your supervisor has the necessary material to take off where you left. You will want the transition to be a seamless as possible. Self promote and tell them what materials you have organized for their benefit. Your professionalism and consideration will be both noticed and appreciated.
  2. Review any written goals and expectations and compare them with your actual experience.
    You will want to see if a realistic job description should be amended for the next intern. You will want to note if any opportunities described in company documents slipped through forgotten by both you and your supervisor. You will also want to be able to illustrate your proficiency in performing your tasks, and the different ways that you exceeded expectations.
  3. Make a list of your accomplishments.It will make you feel good, and also give you an idea of what you can talk and write about during your next job search. Email yourself the work projects you are proud of to begin building your professional portfolio. Don’t rely on your memory. You may surprise yourself when you make a list of all that you have learned and been able to do. If you have learned a new skill you won’t want to forget it when it comes time to update your resume. Such a list will also assist those reviewing your work with their evaluation. Don’t diminish the importance of even small benefits you might bring to your next job.You can even legitimately say things like, “performed all tasks in less time than required”, if that is actually true.
  4. Take a meeting.Ask your supervisor for a few moments of their time to review the documents you have prepared, and go over your accomplishments as they relate to the original job expectations. This is not a good time to explain your disappointments, but rather to provide an unbiased look at the job description and the job reality. It is also a good time for you to quietly promote your accomplishments, thank them for the opportunity to work there, and ask for references. If you can get references in writing, preferably on LinkedIn, then you won’t have to worry about what happens if they should leave their job and become hard to reach.
  5. Generating good will can go a long way toward establishing your professional referral base.
    Don’t forget that it isn’t just your employers who can help you in the future, but also your colleagues. You might want to leave a treat in the break room for everyone to enjoy or send flowers with a note where everyone can see and appreciate them.
  6. Update your resume, Facebook page, and LinkedIn, and tweet about your internship in a positive way.
    You might also want to enter our intern contest and write an essay about your experience. It could be humorous or serious or exciting or whatever. We would love to see it and it would be a great way to get noticed by businesses on our site.

Most of all, enjoy your new school year, good luck and good exit.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as What is an Internship? and find answers to common interview questions such as What’s Your Dream Job?

How to Handle Feedback at Work

Whether you’re just starting your first internship or already settled into a full-time job, constructive feedback is something you’re likely to encounter sooner rather than later. Why do employers give feedback? It’s to ensure that you know what’s expected of you and to show that they care about your work and want to help you be successful in your position.

Here are some things you can do to make the process of receiving feedback as effective as possible.

Ask for feedback

Taking initiative and asking for feedback is a great way to show your employer that you’re committed to doing a good job and passionate about finding ways to improve. The best way to do this is to set up a one-on-one meeting with your manager and ask them for feedback on specific things you’re working on. For example, if you’re in charge of creating a presentation deck for a certain project, you can walk them through the presentation and get their advice on what you can do to make the presentation as effective as possible.

Pro Tip: Asking for concrete feedback on specific things is a great way to maximize the advice you’re receiving. Don’t just say, “Is there anything I could be doing better?” Instead, focus on a task you’re working on and ask a direct question such as, “Am I taking the right approach here?” This will give your manager a chance to provide detailed feedback while also setting the tone for them to provide more general feedback when needed.

Take time to process the feedback you receive

For most of us, the prospect of receiving feedback makes us feel somewhat defensive and our initial impulse might be a “fight or flight” response to being criticized. However, by retraining our brain to think of feedback as helpful, we can overcome this impulse and find productive ways of incorporating it into our work. The best way to do this is by taking some time to process the feedback before responding to it. Instead of addressing it immediately, thank the person and take some time to think about what they’ve said. Once you’ve done that, you can respond and address specific points that you’d like to clarify or expand on.

Pro Tip: The key to keeping an open mind in this situation is to realize that the person giving you feedback has only one goal: to help you improve. By making this your focus, you can ensure that you’re receptive to their advice and that you act on the information you receive.

Agree on action items

Since feedback is designed to help you improve, having a concrete way to implement it is really important. In order to do this, make sure to walk away from the meeting with a concrete list of next steps. For example, going back to the presentation example, if your manager has asked that you add additional slides or metrics to the deck, be sure to outline what those slides or metrics will look like and come up with a timeline for when you will implement the changes.

Try it out

Once you’ve outlined your next steps, it’s time to apply the feedback. The key to doing this successfully is to focus on each step carefully and to take into account both the overarching and detailed points of the feedback you received. However, it’s also okay to push back on elements that don’t feel right to you. For example, if you implement a change to the presentation deck and you feel like it doesn’t add any real value, it’s okay to say so and to brainstorm other things you can do instead.

When handled in an open-minded and receptive way, constructive feedback can be a powerful tool that will help you succeed in your role and develop new skills along the way.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Become a Confident Public Speaker and find answers to common interview questions such as What’s Your Dream Job?

How to Give Feedback to Your Manager

Giving and receiving feedback in a professional context might seem a bit intimidating at first. If that feedback is aimed at your manager, it’s likely to be even more intimidating. How can you ensure that you’re not offending your manager while also giving them feedback intended to improve your relationship and their work?

Here are some steps to follow when giving your manager feedback.

Establish a positive relationship with your manager

One of the keys to giving feedback (in any context) is ensuring that you have a relationship with the person beforehand. Since feedback is meant to help the person on the receiving end, knowing them and their work is a key factor in being able to deliver the kind of thoughtful observations that will help them improve. In order to establish this relationship with your manager, it’s important to build trust by taking initiative in your role and by asking for feedback yourself and acting on it. This will go a long way toward showing your manager that you value the relationship and that you’re providing them with feedback designed to improve on an already positive working relationship.

Ask for permission to give feedback

Before giving your manager any feedback, it’s important to ensure that they’re receptive to it and that the timing is right. You can do this by asking them if you can share some thoughts on an existing project or if they are providing you with feedback on something and you’d like to expand the conversation, you can offer them some feedback in return.

The best way to ask for permission by framing the question as something that would be helpful to you as their employee. For example, when giving feedback related to a particular project, you can say something like, “What would be really helpful to me would be to have some concrete steps in place for this next phase.” This will show your manager that your feedback is ultimately related to delivering the best results possible and will help them understand how they can help you do that.

Depersonalize the feedback

Another key component of giving your manager feedback is to make it impersonal. Rather than saying something like, “I don’t like it when you do XYZ,” you can say something like, “Something that’s worked for me very well in the past with previous managers has been XYZ.” This will shift the focus away from anything personal and onto your professional relationship.

Write it out

Once you have a clear idea of what you want to say, it’s important to write it out and refine your delivery. This is a great way to ensure that your feedback is both effective and sensitively. After you have an initial draft, take another look at it and practice saying it as you would to your manager. If something doesn’t sound quite right, refine it and try again. By the second or third draft, you’ll likely have it just right and you’ll be ready to discuss it with your manager.

Although giving your manager feedback might seem a bit stressful, by focusing on how you can improve your working relationship and how you can help them help you, you’ll be able to deliver the kind of feedback that managers appreciate and that makes the whole team stronger.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Get a Mentor at Work and find answers to common interview questions such as Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?

How to Answer an Employee Feedback Questionnaire

With many companies turning feedback into an ongoing process, feedback platforms are increasingly being used to find out what employees think about their roles and about the company in general. If you’ve never given formal feedback before, you might be wondering what to expect from this process and how you can make the most of the feedback you provide. A great way to start is by knowing what questions to anticipate and preparing to answer those questions as honestly and effectively as possible.

Here are the questions you’re most likely to encounter on an employee feedback questionnaire.

1. Do you feel challenged in your role?

When an employer asks this question, it’s because they want to know that you’re feeling stimulated by your role and that you’re not bored by the day-to-day tasks involved. The key to answering it effectively is to be honest about whether or not you find the role challenging and to back this up with examples of specific things you find challenging (or too easy).

2. Do you feel you know where to find help when you need it?

This question is designed to ensure that you know what support is available to you at any given time and to assess how comfortable you are seeking out that help. The best way to answer it is by explaining the steps you take whenever a problem comes up. If you tend to tackle problems on your own because you’re not sure where to find help, be sure to mention that and explain what resources you’d like to have instead.

3. What’s your preferred working style?

Focusing on your personal work style, this question aims to understand you better as both a person and an employee. For example, if you’re someone who works best in a quiet environment, your employer will be able to use the information you provide in the feedback form to adapt your working environment to your needs. This will help you do your job more easily while also ensuring that you’re able to meet the goals the company sets for you.

4. What would you say is the biggest issue you experience on a regular basis at work?

Being able to tell your employer about a challenge you face on a regular basis is extremely important. This will allow them to address the problem directly while making your day-to-day work experience much more pleasant. The best way to answer this question is by being as honest as possible about the problem while providing concrete examples of how it affects your work. For example, if you’re not able to meet productivity goals because you’re constantly working through technical issues, this is a great time to mention that.

5. What is one practical step we could take to help make your job easier?

Finally, one of the most helpful things you can tell your employer is how they can make your job easier. This can be anything from moving your desk to changing your goals. Whatever it is, it should be be something that will have a big impact on your work and your morale.

Giving your employer feedback is a great way to ensure that the company is able to support you in your role while also being aware of any challenges you might be facing. By answering these questions honestly and keeping the focus on actionable steps, you’ll be able to help your employer create a positive working environment for you and for the company.

* This article was written in partnership with the team at Impraise.