Textbooks and exams only take you so far toward professional success. Internships, which aim to help you translate theory into practice, can provide valuable practical experience that sets you up to make an impact in your chosen industry.
An internship is a short-term placement with a company in an industry you’re pursuing. You’ll typically take on an internship after graduating from school to gain hands-on experience.
Internships have well-known short-term benefits: they help you master important skills, build your resume, and learn about your strengths, weaknesses, and preferences at work. But the effects of an internship can also reverberate throughout your entire career. An internship may evolve into a full-time position at the company, and the professional networks you build could lead to job opportunities down the line.
As you depart your internship, you want to ensure you welcome these crucial opportunities. And the best way to leave a lasting good impression is to send a memorable thank you email after the internship is over.
Why send an internship thank you note?
A few words from an intern can have a lasting effect. A thank you letter that expresses genuine gratitude to your coworkers serves to strengthen new work friendships, build a web of professional connections, and show senior colleagues who guided or mentored you that their time investment was worth it.
Thank you notes also help you manage the impression you leave at the company, as these notes might be the last thing your boss and coworkers see of you. Research shows that people remember recent interactions with others better than earlier interactions, so sending a positive, professional note may help recipients remember you positively and professionally.
A thank you note is also a lasting record of your successes at the company. If a full-time position comes up and your boss is comparing previous interns, you thank you letter will be right there in their inbox advocating on your behalf.
How to write an internship thank you email
When composing a thank you note to a colleague, reflect on all the interactions you had with this person. You might consider whether they offered support or advice that changed your perspective, or what skills they helped you develop.
If you’re struggling to pin down ideas, ask yourself whether the colleague did any of the following:
- Helped you clarify your career path
- Increased your confidence
- Deepened your understanding of the industry.
- Helped you improve your professional communication skills
- Offered you opportunities or feedback that increased your self-knowledge (e.g., by asking you to branch out to a new area that you ended up loving)
Once you’ve determined the points you’d like to highlight in your email, here are some best practices when writing it:
- Keep it short: Don’t let important information become lost in excessive content. About 2–3 paragraphs is enough to go into some detail while also respecting the reader’s time and attention span.
- Personalize it: Write an individual email to every colleague who helped you in a meaningful way. Don’t reuse phrases, as you never know whether recipients will compare notes. And personalizing each email shows your colleagues you genuinely valued your interactions with them.
- Be professional: While you should follow the company’s culture in terms of formality level, make your thank you emails slightly more formal than a normal work email. Using professional language and avoiding slang and emojis shows you’ve taken the opportunity seriously.
- Draft them carefully: Read over your emails to catch errors or phrases the recipient might misinterpret. Proofread so your final impression isn’t full of typos and mistakes. And if you struggle with the initial email drafting phase, use an AI program like ChatGPT to offer suggestions you can edit before sending.
- Think about your distribution strategy ahead of time: On your last day, you might be too busy handing over unfinished work and tying up loose ends to draft heartfelt emails. Instead, write them ahead of time and have them sitting in your drafts folder ready to send. And send the emails from your personal email address, as you’ll likely lose access to your company email address when you leave.
- Be positive: Make sure your letter conveys warmth, humility, and — of course — gratitude. This isn’t the place to offer constructive criticism or suggestions for improvement.
- Say you’d like to stay in touch: Mention that you’d like to stay connected and provide your contact details.
- Don’t ask for a job offer: The best internship thank you notes are pure expressions of gratitude. If you really want to mention you’re looking for a job opportunity, find a way to do so that comes across as enthusiastic rather than presumptuous or entitled. You could write, “I really enjoyed working with your team. If any opportunities open up in the future, I’d definitely apply.”
Post-internship thank you letter templates
Thank you letters after an internship are simple and straightforward. Here’s some information on the general structure and three thank you letter templates: a thank you note for your supervisor, a letter to a senior colleague who’s not your supervisor, and a letter you can use for other coworkers.
Your thank you letter should have the following overall structure:
- A salutation that’s consistent with the company’s regular email practices
- A first line expressing general gratitude
- Details about the specific ways the recipient helped you
- An invitation to stay in touch
- A professional sign-off
- Your contact information (personal email, phone number, LinkedIn profile)
Sample thank you letters
Example one: Thank you letter to your boss when leaving an internship
Subject line: Thank you for the [job title] internship opportunity
Dear [boss’s name]
Thank you so much for trusting me to contribute to the [team name] team at [company name]. You run a very special group, and being part of it has been an incredible experience.
I’ve really appreciated your guidance over the last [internship time period]. I’ve learned so much about [industry name], and I look forward to applying everything I learned here in my future career. I especially enjoyed [your favorite project], as [reason you liked the project].
Watching you lead your team has also been a learning experience, and I hope to show the same [list some of their positive leadership qualities] if I’m leading a group in the future.
I hope we can stay in touch as I make my way in the industry.
Thank you so much,
[your contact information]
Example two: Thank you letter to another senior staff member, opening the door to a possible mentoring relationship
Subject line: It was a pleasure working with you
Dear [colleague’s name],
I’m finishing up my internship at [company name] today, and I just wanted to express my gratitude for everything you’ve taught me over the past [internship time period].
Thank you for taking the time to teach me about [topics]. I learned so much about [industry] from you and I’m sure I’ll be drawing on this knowledge for years to come. Your comments about [topic] will be especially useful when I’m dealing with [relevant difficult situation(s)].
I’d love to stay in touch as I advance in the industry. I hope you’ll accept my LinkedIn connection request — and my invitation for a coffee when I’m next in the area.
Wishing you all the best,
[your contact information]
Example three: Thank you letter to a team member
Subject line: Thank you for training me!
Hi [recipient’s name],
It’s been such a pleasure working with you over the last [internship time period]. I really value the advice and support you’ve offered during this time, and I have no doubt it will give me a leg up as I move forward in [industry].
I especially appreciated your [colleague’s good qualities, e.g., patience or humor] when you taught me to [new skill] and the industry insights you gave me [over coffee, during our breaks, etc.].
I would love to stay in touch. Please feel free to add me on LinkedIn, email me anytime, or call me on [number].
Take care and I hope to see you again soon!
All the best,
[your contact details]
Your next move
Even if a full-time job offer doesn’t materialize after your internship (or if you do receive an offer but decide to decline), an internship experience sets you up with valuable professional skills and connections that will serve you well for future job searches.
Sending thank you emails after your internship supports your career in even more ways as it develops. These emails serve as a personal record of the best moments and most important learning experiences of your internship. And you can use them as career development resources in the future: you can draw on them when writing cover letters, for example, or use them to jog your memory when preparing responses to job interview questions.
If your thank you note doesn’t help you land a full-time position straight away, don’t worry. It may be leading you to the job of your dreams by a more indirect route.
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