Dean Gilliam

Dean is a Business Administration student at the University of Windsor. He has past experience at 3M Canada completing an internship in the marketing operations and sales space, and took part in  the Business + Higher Education Roundtable’s Student Advisory Board (SAB). We talked to Dean to get his tips and tricks on successfully wrapping up a placement. 

Why are assessments important at the end of a placement?
I’ve found assessments to be one of the most valuable parts of a placement if approached with the right mindset. When going through assessments, it is important to listen with an open mind and to be curious. A few questions I ask are, “Am I fulfilling your expectations? If not, what are a few adjustments I can make to better meet them?” or “What are three skills I can improve on? Are there any resources outside of the company that you have found helpful in your skill development?” 

How would you approach your supervisor if you wanted to be rehired for another term or after graduation?
I make sure it’s a casual one-on-one environment. In most cases, supervisors are very willing to tackle this conversation, especially if they’ve had a positive experience with the student. I wouldn’t wait until the last week of your internship to express your interest in returning. I would bring it up at least a month before the internship closed. When I approached the conversation earlier at my last placement, I was able to fit in a handful of coffee chats with individuals across the company before my internship wrapped up. 

How do you ask for a letter of recommendation?
Here is loose structure that I use: 
“As my internship closes, I’m looking to gather some feedback and materials for future reference in my early career. I’ve really enjoyed our time working together at [Company X]—particularly when we were able to collaborate on [project]. With that in mind, I thought you’d be a great person to vouch for my expertise in [key skill area] and my ability to [impressive result].
[Acknowledge that they are probably busy and offer any additional information or pointers that may assist them in their writing process]. 
Would you be comfortable writing a letter of recommendation for me?”

You’ll notice that I pointed out specifically some of the projects and skills I would like the supervisor to touch on. This is to guide the supervisor and to be transparent on the type of content you are looking to highlight. Additionally, if there is a deadline for the letter (if you are using it for Grad school applications, scholarship, etc.), it is important that you give them at least two weeks’ notice. 

How do you articulate your skills learned and main takeaways from your placement to add to your resume?
Reflect on feedback from your supervisor or colleagues and look back on main challenges you were able to overcome during your placement. I would dedicate a few hours to jot down potential resume lines, skills, and pointers before your placement finishes so that it is fresh in your mind. If you have a comfortable relationship with your supervisor, you could even ask them to review your resume additions and seek out their feedback! Ask yourself some reflection questions:

  • What learnings can I carry forward in my career?
  • What skills and areas do I need to grow to best position myself in this space post-graduation?
  • What are some classes I can take to help grow in those areas?
  • What volunteer initiatives can I get involved in to help grow in those areas? 

In conclusion - wrapping up your placement successfully can only bring you future benefits. Good luck!