What are students looking for in a construction internship?
I need some comments on construction internships from the audience of this blog.
As someone who has been out of school for a while now, I want to see what current students are looking for in an construction internship. Below you will find a brief list of the what I like to offer to my intern employees:
1. Structure — I have heard of many “intern horror stories” where the student was stuck updating RFIs (Requests For Information) all day, every day with little to no variety in daily activities. To address this problem, an intern training matrix can be developed during the first week of the internship to outline the activities that will be covered during the internship. This matrix will cover several standard topics and a few unique topics generated by the intern and the intern’s mentor. Click here to see a sample of an intern training matrix that I used last summer for one of our interns.
2. Mentoring — Set the intern up with a mentor who they can go to with any questions. The intern experience is primarily a learning one, so the intern should “wear out” the mentor with numerous questions. The mentor is someone other then the intern’s boss and is typically someone with at least a couple years experience.
3. Responsibility — Give the intern some responsibility – this could be as basic as keeping the record drawings up to date (which can be a huge task on large projects) or as elaborate as providing an initial review of potential change orders quotes from subcontractors. The main point here keep the student engaged and busy enough that they are not just sitting in front of a computer honing their skills at solitare or minesweeper.
4. Exposure to a Wide Range of Construction Management Activities — Expose the intern to a wide range of construction activities with a focus on field construction activities. Typically an internship period is only a few months long, so a focused effort is required to introduce the intern to as many area of construction in a short time frame. This is one of the main reasons that I use the intern training matrix referenced above.
5. Exposure to Company Culture — Welcome the intern to the team as if they were to become a full-time member. Expose the intern to as many cultural activities as possible. An example of this with my last intern was sending him to our all-hands meeting in Nashville, TN (our project was in San Jose, CA) in order to meet as many of our other healthcare construction employees as possible and to attend the corporate training conducted over the three day event. An internship is a great time for a student to determine if they are a fit with the particular company and you can be assured that the company providing the internship is making a similar evaluation.
The list above is just a start – what are students looking for in their internships? Please comment.