By Tom Webb, VP Strategic Initiatives and Customer Solutions
Having two sons in college has given me a new perspective on what students look for in internships. I hope to use this information to better the HCSS internship program, and I think it can help you too.
Students want an internship that will give them a chance to do real work. Interns don’t relish the chance to get you coffee. They really want to do real work. It helps you a lot, because they can get a lot done, but it also helps them in many ways. Real work gives interns the chance to verify that they’ll enjoy a career with you. It helps them apply what they are learning in school and gives you confidence that they can do the job if, or when, they apply for a full-time position later.
Students would love the chance to see how a company operates. Interns are a blank slate, and, unfortunately, colleges spend almost no time teaching them what the “real world” is like. So interns are going to learn a lot when you give them the chance to work on a difficult problem. Don’t shy away from giving them one.
They want to meet people who have the career they are thinking about pursuing. This is a big one for most interns. They don’t know what life is like for people who have the career they want. So have them work alongside your veterans to give them a better understanding of what they’re in for. A great way to maximize impact for everyone is by having an intern help an experienced superintendent learn the technology on his iPad. Everyone wins with a project like that.
This is their chance to learn about an industry. Most interns are still trying to figure out what they really want. Tap an up-and-coming leader in your company to explain the industry to them. Have him or her bring your interns to local AGC meetings, etc. This will help the up-and-comer practice leadership, give the interns a good experience, and help the interns see and be proud of the industry.
Have questions about how you can apply this for your intern program? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.