As you get ready to end your summer internship or your summer rotations as a grad student, don’t forget to keep in touch.
We often hear from our younger trainees that you enjoyed your summer experience. You like the research and felt you got along great with your mentor(s). Yet, when many of you write to join the lab again the following summer or to get a letter of recommendation your feel like you never hear from the advisor or you get a lukewarm response. “Why?” you ask, “I did good work.” Of course you did, you just forgot to demonstrate how much the work meant to you and how much you want to stay a part of that work.
We know that it can be hard to keep up with your labs when you leave (without feeling like a stalker). So, here is a suggestion to get started. Send your PI a brief thank you note within a month of leaving. This does not need to be a long email, just a few short lines thanking them for letting you be in their research group, something valuable that you learned, and that you hope you can keep in touch. Write a separate (and different) letter to your day to day mentor or supervisor in the lab, probably your postdoc or graduate student.
You can always follow up anytime with a quick hello, and to let people know that you still are thinking about your experience. Once a semester is even enough. Ask about the project you worked on and if there has been any progress.
If your research has helped your coursework or your coursework has finally made something you learned during the summer more clear, let people know. (i.e. this week we studying signal transduction which made me think about…)
Follow pub-med-watch to see if that paper that the lab was toiling over all summer was finally published. Then send a note to congratulate the authors.
Connect online, LinkedIn is a terrific way to make a connection. You should ask your advisor and other labmates if they would like to be connected before you send them an invitation. Also, remember LinkedIn is static, and not everyone in the scientific community yet uses it to its full ability. It will not replace an active networking outreach as described above.
When it comes time to return to the research group or to ask for a letter of recommendation, remind them who you are and what you did in their group.
Good luck to you as you wrap up your summer research experience, we are glad you came!