should I bind all my internship work into a book for my manager?

A reader writes:

I am currently doing an internship at a finance company. It is more of a learning experience than anything else, since I am new to everything under finance. I am learning a lot and am so grateful for the experience. Since I am new to finance, I am mainly asked to do research on different finance topics, as well as some other research not related to finance. I always keep my manager up-to-date by emailing him my work whenever I finish with an assignment. The thing is, I am not sure that he actually reads them. He says I am doing a good job, but that is probably because it feels that way since I am updating him often, letting him know that I am not just sitting around.

My term is ending soon. I am thinking of printing out all the work that I have completed and binding it into a book (it’s not much, really), and giving it to him on my last day. Is this a good idea? What do you think? I thought it would be a good idea because I remembered that he handed me some of the previous interns’ work just to show me what they worked on. They were usually documents that he had to look for on his computer, and I thought maybe giving him this can be useful for future interns.

Nooooo, do not do this.

It’s way too “school report” rather than something you’d normally do in the workplace. If work is ever bound up together, it’s for a specific purpose — because there’s a specific reason to present it all together — not just “here’s everything I’ve done.”

Also, if you present it as “here’s a model for other interns to follow,” you risk it having a subtext of “because my work is obviously perfect and a model for others to follow.”  Which is probably not what you mean.

{ 23 comments… read them below }

  1. S.L. Albert*

    What you might want to do instead is create a “map” of where you saved things. No, not an actual map, but just a list of what folders and files you’re leaving behind on the drive/in the network and a short sentence about it. It doesn’t have to be fancy – but just your e-mail on the last day include something like, “Oh, and by the way, here’s where all that work is if you ever need it.” That way, your boss can just save that e-mail and know where to find things later. The wonderful part about the digital world is that you don’t have to know everything, you just have to know the information exists.

    This is also a good exercise for you, since you will have to think about everything you did over the course of the internship and refresh your memory on the things you did early on. Once you have a good idea of what you’ve actually done/learned, you can then use that to fuel your resume.

    1. Emily*


      At the most, I think you could zip finished assignments into a file and attach it to an email, but I think it would be sufficient and most useful just to let him know what and where things are for future reference.

    2. Aja*

      Exactly – the bound copy is too school-ish, but wrapping supplying the info someone would need to easily access your work in the future is a very good idea.

    3. Liz H.*

      When I left an internship I created a folder (named “Liz”) with *shortcuts* to all of the files I worked on. The files themselves lived in their appropriate project folders. But if my boss needed to find something and he knew I worked on it, he could access it via my shortcuts file.

      Good luck!

  2. Kelly*

    I would love if one of the people I manage did this!

    But…uh…I’m a high school teacher. And I always like to have good/bad/mediocre student samples for comparison. So, point proven?

    1. Colette*

      I’d be careful about that – it’s possible there could be confidentiality/non-disclosure issues with keeping that work. You’d want to check with your boss before keeping something you did on the job.

    2. Candice*

      Exactly what I was going to say. A “portfolio” of sorts so you can remember what you’ve done and your accomplishments for future job interviews.

  3. EM*

    Yeah, it’s definitely too school report to do this. I’m a consultant and the vast majority of the time my work product is a file that gets sent to the client. Occasionally my company produces a bound copy, but it’s one report for a specific client. Alhough, if you google a particular obscure river in southern Colorado, you’ll come across a results report I wrote. :)

  4. Karthik*

    One thing you COULD do is, if he had to re-print all those previous interns work, is organize them, put tabs, and hand them along with yours in a hanging file folder. Next summer, he can can just give that folder to the next intern, who can then add his or her work and so on.

  5. Farah*

    I don’t see why not. It could show your enthusiasm for the internship and might show that you were a diligent worker.

  6. sr*

    I once did this for the purpose of getting the boss’ boss to keep me on for longer and paid more. I didn’t intend for him to actually read/look at everything I had done, just to see the volume of it. I topped it off with a short letter describing what I’ve been up to, how I’ve helped my team, and why I thought the team could use me during the upcoming 6 months. It worked.

    1. Zed*

      I respectfully disagree! I don’t think this work should be bound “like a book,” but there’s no reason it shouldn’t be printed out and organized in a file or even a binder. I think this would impress most managers–coming from an intern, at least. It would also give him something to hold on to to show future interns PLUS something concrete to refer to if you ever ask him to be a reference. And if he throws it out/shreds it/loses it, there’s no harm to you.

      There’s also the question of whether this is an internship done for credit. If so, it’s technically a class, so being too “school report” doesn’t really make sense as a criticism. When I did an internship in grad school, I had to write up an 8-10 page paper at the end of it and get my supervisor and my academic adviser to sign off on it. My supervisor had to write something (shorter) as well, and I know she kept stats on my work so she could include those.

  7. KayDay*

    I actually disagree with this post–I think it’s a good idea and would go ahead and do it. Sometimes interns do work on one project over the course of their internship, and I really would not think a collection of your research would seem strange at all.

    Now, please do not take your work into kinkos or a print shop to have it bound. That would be overkill. Expensive overkill. But to prepare either a (very plain) physical binder or electronic folder with your work sounds like a good idea.

    Your boss in all likelihood has had and will have many other interns. While it’s nice to think that he will remember you on account of your awesomeness, it doesn’t sound to me like he’s the remembering-much-about-an-intern type. (It happens, some people just aren’t all that into building up the next generation.) Storing a copy of your work can help him remember what you did if he serves as a reference.

    Also, I disagree that having it available for future interns would seem arrogant or presumptuous. In my experience, it’s been really common, especially at the intern/very entry-level, to work off of models and manuals prepared by the outgoing person. I’ve almost always left samples and instruction sheets when leaving an internship/position.

    If allowed, it also would be nice to keep a copy for yourself. Yes, companies do frown on you taking confidential material, but you said, “I am mainly asked to do research on different finance topics, as well as some other research not related to finance.” That sounds like stuff that can be shared–just be sure to ask first.

    Just don’t stand over your boss and expect him to look it over right there. Just provide it to him and say something like “here’s a collection of the work I have done for your records and possibly for the next intern.” done.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think this might be one of those things where while there might be some people (like KayDay and others) who don’t object to it, there are enough who would think it was so off-key that it’s not a risk you should take. Because the people who think it’s off-key will think it’s REALLY off-key, and the damage there is more significant than any benefit you might get from those who don’t see it that way.

      1. Jamie*

        I agree – I would find it odd to have it printed and bound.

        However, I like the idea above of storing it electronically and emailing the boss with it’s location.

        But then, I really don’t understand why someone would print something that would be better stored electronically.

        1. Your Mileage May Vary*

          Plus, do you really want the boss to think you’re wasting company resources (paper, toner, etc) for something she doesn’t need? I think it’s a better idea to point them to the electronic files and then they can print/forward as needed.

        2. S.L. Albert*

          I think that’s part of my “don’t do it” thoughts. In addition to killing a tree, who says that all the information needs to be stored in the same place/should be stored in the same place? Maybe the boss has been funneling the research off to the groups that needed it. Add even if the boss does want a hard copy, just because the same person did the research on the market for Chocolate Teapots and the effect of sugar prices on Caramel Carafes, doesn’t mean they belong in the same information sets. If its printed and bound, the boss just has to unbind it and refile it anyway, if it hasn’t happened already.

        3. KayDay*

          My bosses have generally all wanted most of my work products printed out–including excel spreadsheets that simply will not fit onto an 8.5X11 sheet of paper….and then they ask why the type is so small…..*le sigh*

  8. kristinyc*

    I would make one of these for yourself to have samples of your work (but get permission from your boss first in case there’s anything confidential in it), but I agree that it would be weird to give it to your boss.

  9. JPT*

    I’ve done something similar to this before, but not really a “report.” Instead it was a binder with a tab for each of my areas of responsibility with instructions on how to do certain things that I did regularly, sometimes with examples. I’ve started jobs where I had nothing to go off of and was poorly supervised and had to figure out everything from scratch, so in fields where it’s like that, you’re just doing the next person a favor (and giving your boss a chance to change the way the next person does things if needed). I agree that things like this need to be for a specific purpose (in my case, to get the next person started, because I know no one there knew what I did, but would start asking my replacement for things on day 1). But as an intern, it’s a little weird to leave instructions for someone. Whoever hires/supervises interns should be doing this.

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