The Benefits of Investing in Interns
Coaching and mentoring students isn’t just good for young people, it’s good for our business and our industry as a whole. If your company is considering hiring interns or co-ops, you might benefit from these insights.
Exposure as Value to Students
At Real Projectives®, we champion the importance of giving young people a chance and actively coaching students. Helping them choose a career and start their path in the right direction is a privilege that we don’t take lightly. For the last six years, we’ve made it a priority to bring students into our Maryland office to work alongside our staff. With the emergence of coronavirus, we briefly considered pausing the program for this summer. After weighing our options, we decided to double down: hiring two interns instead of just one. We’re excited that our current interns are working closely (but mostly remotely) with the Real Projectives® team.
Interning or co-op’ing is truly valuable in many ways for students. Picking a career path while a teenager without much knowledge of the seemingly limitless options is difficult and stressful. So gaining work exposure to “the real world” offers a major benefit for those in college. Time spent in the workforce can confirm students’ interests, have them realize their major is not aligned with their passion, or open their eyes to a whole new path of opportunities.
Especially in our real estate and construction industry, the options for work are broad and sometimes not obvious to students choosing college majors. Exposure to the industry as part of a project management firm like ours is an important currency more valuable than the money. Through our work locally and across the country, our interns and co-ops gain a broad view of places, job roles and types of projects hard to find elsewhere.
Rewards and Logistics for Companies
So, how do we as professionals, and our companies, already settled in our careers benefit from interns or co-ops? Our team appreciates that these young people don’t come tarnished with pre-conceived notions or bad experiences. We look to them for unbridled energy; fresh knowledge; and creative insights on how things can be done better, faster or smarter. We actively encourage our interns to ask questions and voice their ideas as we are invigorated by their diverse perspectives.
Based on our experience in hiring students, we can offer other organizations these suggestions for success:
- If you’d like to have students “on staff” year-round, look for colleges or universities with co-op programs. Traditionally, interns tend be available only during the summer while co-ops rotate work and school throughout the calendar.
- Reach out to colleges or universities to join their experiential learning programs. Be prepared to follow the schools’ set guidelines and procedures. If you work with schools that are not in your region, research housing options in your area for interns as that will be an important decision factor for them.
- Be patient. It took several years for our intern program to become known among students at multiple schools. Word of mouth from previous interns to their classmates can help “sell” your company as an employer (if you can get them to attend a career fair with you even better).
- Understand how your company’s needs and offerings will compare to others. Larger companies can hire dozens of interns at one time, giving these students a cohort to work and socialize with while their programs tend to be more focused and structured. Our company usually hires one intern at a time, but gives that student opportunity to be integrated fully with our entire staff and gain exposure to many projects. Be honest with candidate students during the interview process and let them choose what means most to them.
- Consider who on your staff will mentor or coach interns and how. Given the limited time (weeks of an internship and months for co-op), it is so important that both a senior-level manager and peer-level employee be assigned to help the student fit in as quickly as possible for maximum benefits of both parties.
- Assign a special project to each intern or co-op. While working daily alongside employees is so valuable, we have found that having a student also focus on something that has a deliverable due by the end of their experience allows the individual to have ownership in their destiny while learning leadership and presentation skills.
For the evolution of our industry, we need to invest in students whether they take the college or trade school route; grooming them and giving them a look inside the world of real estate improvement and construction. Their future will be brighter the more opportunities we create for learning together.
If you’re considering interns or co-operative learning for students, we are happy to share our Real Projectives® experience. If you are a student in school or may be graduating soon, we’d love to talk with you. For more information, give us a call at 888.357.7342.