The Value of Summer Interns
By Rachel Austin
A few weeks ago, I happened to be onsite while one of our interns was completing an assignment for their Summer Internship. The task was to coordinate and host a project site tour, which would serve three purposes; it forced the intern to dig into the details of the project so they would be prepared to host, it gave him an opportunity to hone his presentation skills in a safe environment and provided him a chance to shine by being a subject matter expert in front of his peers and corporate leaders.
If an internship program is structured well, it can be a win-win for the company, intern and staff. An obvious benefit is the development of the talent pipeline. When a placement goes well, and we have confidence in our future workload, the company will likely extend a full-time employment offer for after they have finished their degree. Both parties have the chance to ‘test drive’ the employee-employer relationship to see if it’s a good fit. When an intern returns to campus in the fall with a solid offer of full-time employment they’re likely to tell their friends and classmates, helping us to also build brand recognition among future leaders in the industry.
If an intern is not a great fit, that’s alright too. The company was still able to get a few months of productivity, and the intern was able to walk away with some experience. Having that experience will help them to find the best spot when they’re seeking full-time employment after graduation.
Another, less obvious, benefit of an internship program is the development of existing leaders within the company. Taking on the task of supervising interns can be less stressful or intimidating than leading an established team. It can allow somebody who thinks they want to grow into a leadership position, the chance to try it without committing long-term. Many of us have worked with people who have accepted a leadership position and later had buyer’s remorse. A Field Manager or Project Manager who isn’t sure if they’re ready to make the leap from managing projects to managing people can take an intern under their wing for the summer, and give it a try. Oftentimes, mentoring and guiding others will motivate that person to grow their leadership skills and build their confidence to take the next step.
Interns also bring fresh perspectives with them to the team. They’re learning about current trends and technology in the industry they can share with the company. EV Construction assigns its interns a final project, and that is to share an idea for a process improvement or lessons learned with company leadership. Ultimately, the goal of the program in its entirety is to grow all who touch it.
The value of an internship for the student is undeniable. At EV Construction, we find the value we experience by employing interns is even greater. If employing interns is not currently a standard operating procedure for your corporation, you are missing out on growth opportunities.