Developing an internship program will build your firm’s talent pipeline and develop future leaders.
As we approach fall, we hustle to finish summer projects, squeeze in a few more long weekends at the cabin, and prepare for what’s ahead. This is also the time when we say goodbye to our summer interns. Some might be joining us as full-time employees, ready to hit the ground running. Others are returning to school to complete their degrees. A few might explore new career paths discovered over the summer. Regardless of where they are headed, we know that while they were with us, they helped us grow in many ways.
We learn a lot from our interns every year. First and foremost, our interns provide fresh perspectives and innovative thinking. Their diverse experiences and backgrounds produce an influx of new ideas. Whether it is the latest app for organizing job site schedules or the creative solution to address project delays, the opportunity for interns to showcase their talents ultimately helps our business move forward.
Interns also provide valuable leadership and learning experiences for our staff. Our interns provide mentorship opportunities while they gain experience and confidence. Staff serving as mentors to these students hone their communication skills and provide constructive feedback along the way. Interns, too, offer valuable feedback. As hiring continues to be a challenge both in and outside the AEC industry, internships provide a great opportunity to test the waters and build a talent pipeline for the future.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers’ recently released 2021 Internship & Co-Op Survey Report shows that at both the one-year and five-year marks, new hires who have interned with the employer are more likely to be retained than hires who interned elsewhere or with no intern experience. This becomes even more valuable as organizations across the country are experiencing a talent shortage.
In 2016, WSB launched the Intern Experience program. The talent market is competitive and bringing our industry’s best and brightest to WSB is important to us. The Intern Experience is intended to help our firm recruit, engage, and retain staff. Through this program, we create a valuable learning experience for our interns that has included field trips, town halls, TEDx Talks, development opportunities, trivia nights, and volunteer events. Since the inception of the Intern Experience, we’ve hired many people who have graduated from the program and have added more activities to provide opportunities for interns to connect with one another and with leaders in our company.
Every year, we ask ourselves, “What did we learn from our interns this summer?” Our answer is always the same: A great deal. Our interns are eager to grow professionally, uniquely talented, bold, innovative, and ready to make their mark on the AEC world and beyond. Whether they become full-time employees, future business partners, or leaders in our industry, we are grateful to have shared this experience with them.
Susan Miller is WSB’s director of learning and works closely with leadership to identify and deliver professional development and training opportunities to staff. Susan’s experience designing curricula, implementing instructional strategies, and leading educational initiatives helps drive WSB team members to further their learning. Contact her at email@example.com.