Even though your work term is just getting started, imagine that the end of your work term has come. For some, this is an opportunity to reflect on their experiences, evaluate the skills they developed, relationships they created, and projects they completed. Others may simply be looking forward to the next step of their professional careers. What some students don’t realize, however, is that over the course of your work term, no matter how long or short it is, you will leave an impression on your co-workers and colleagues. The legacy you leave is something that can benefit you in a number of ways, not the least of which is a positive reference for a future job.
A great way to begin the process of building your legacy is to write your own reference letter highlighting the traits and abilities that you will strive to achieve by the end of your work term. This exercise will give you a better understanding of the type of employee you want to become and will also keep you focused on actually achieving it. This exercise is most effective if you keep the physical cover letter you wrote for yourself visible (taped to your desk or notebook, for example), so that it will provide motivation to achieve your professional development objectives.
Although “legacy” can seem like an intimidating word, leaving a positive legacy at your workplace does not have to be dramatic or grand. It can be as simple as assuring that you’ve done your job to the best of your ability and by demonstrating one or more of the following:
- You were able to improve on an office process/procedure
- Exceeded outcomes by adding extra value to your projects and assignments
- Showing initiative and anticipating needs
- You proved to be reliable and actively searched for more tasks/projects to complete
- Maintained a great attitude and put effort into integrating your personality and strengths into the projects you worked on
- Genuinely cared about your position/organization/co-workers and took advantage of opportunities to get involved and make a difference
- Focused on always improving and transformational learning
- Demonstrated effective communication and built positive relationships with your co-workers and clients
While these traits will without a doubt help you leave a legacy at your workplace, they are also traits that employers value and look for when hiring. Keep in mind that if a future employer calls one of your references and hears any combination of the traits listed above, then you’ve not only proven your legacy to your past employer, but also showed that you’re capable of creating a new one with a future employer as well.