Long gone are the days of summer filled with poolside afternoons and umbrella drinks. Instead, I’ve traded in my flip-flops for heels, and my swimsuit for a power suit. This summer will chronicle my journalism internship in a field that’s slightly out of my comfort zone, and test my abilities to become business savvy in the big city.

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Although it’s not official, the dog days of summer have passed; and it is officially that time of summer when things start to get weird. Our semester counter parts are slowly starting to head back to campus, leaving the few quarter system hold outs with another month of limbo-like summer.

Despite the fact that I have another few weeks of work left, I find my internship starting to wrap up, and the departure of my fellow interns has left me with a little bit of lonliness and a lot of thought about preparing for the next school year.

This week the company I work for was kind enough to send all of the interns out to lunch for a final thank you. By this time, I’ve gotten used to gourmet meals in the middle of the day, but this one seemed especially nice in the company of my fellow interns and our editors celebrating our accomplishments of the past few months. After a somewhat cliche speech about being the future of the industry, our editors genuinely implored us all to stay in touch – something that struck me as rather odd for such a big company to care so much about its interns, and got really got me thinking about how this could be useful in the future.

If there’s anything I’ve learned this summer, it’s to capitalize on all of your opportunities, and now is the perfect time to get a jump start on next year. Update your resume, put together a portfolio of your work, and most importantly ask your employers for recommendations now, as your work is still fresh in their minds. As our time at summer internships is wrapping up, make sure that there is something to show for it.

I’ve spent a big part of my internship helping to run a social media campaign for the magazine, a large part of which has been focused on LinkedIn. As a by product, I’ve created myself a pretty substantial network and gotten pretty familiar with using it.

So due to my recent love affair with LinkedIn, I chose that as my method for getting recommendations. I had already made connections with my current editors as well as those from past internships, and asking for a letter of recommendation was as easy as sending an automated request letter.

I was shocked to see that 24 hours later there were two letters of recommendation waiting for me in my inbox, which are now part of my rapidly growing portfolio.

Don’t miss the opportunity to think ahead and go into a job search in the fall already armed with good references. Who knows, maybe a discussion about a recommendation letter will parlay into an invitation to return next summer or even a job offer.

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