The Internship Win-Win

| Kelli Howard


School is out for the summer, and while that mostly means beach vacations and late nights, for some of America’s brightest students, summer means getting to work. According to Fast Company, there are an estimated 300,000 interns in the United States each year. Internships have become commonplace nowadays and although not all are alike, the one thing they do have in common is the mutual benefit to both the student and employer. I have been working with SAM’s Summer Internship Program for the past nine years now and I cannot think of anything more important than an internship to foster young talent and invest in the next generation.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits.

For students:

  1. Capitalize on the classroom theory with practical application experience. Working on a real-life project not only provides the technical experience you need but also, you get the added bonus of learning the inner workings of a business or industry. The knowledge you gain can help you complete school projects at a much higher level than your peers who do not participate in an internship.
  2. Expand your network of industry professionals. Do not discount this very important piece of an internship. The professionals you work with are leaders in the company, they are subject matter experts in their field of study, and most importantly, they are hiring managers. Yes, they are the ones that may be offering you a job when you graduate so introduce yourself and make a good impression.
  3. Internships are a litmus test for your career choice. After working 40 hours a week for 3-4 months, you will have a clearer idea if the internship can become the job you want to do for the rest of your life, before locking yourself into a full-time commitment. Other than test driving a car, there are not many opportunities of this magnitude where you can “try before you buy”.
  4. Get paid to learn. This is not true for all internships. In fact, there are still roughly 40% of unpaid internships in the US. According to College Recruiter, a student who graduates with a paid internship is 34% more likely to receive at least one job offer upon graduation. When applying to a program, find out if it is paid or not. At SAM, all internships are paid – Show me the money!
  5. Stand out amongst your peers as having “experience”. When employers see that you have worked on real-life projects and were mentored by top experts in the industry, you can bet you will have a leg up in the competition. Hiring managers like to see internships that expose young talent to the technology they use, the practices of the industry, and the real-world experiences that are unteachable in a classroom.

One of our goals for our SAM Internship Program is to identify leaders for the company and expose them to all aspects of business operations through the mentorship of a senior leader. Over the years, SAM has been very successful in developing good engineers and surveyors into great business leaders. Through SAM’s innovation and technological advancements, our interns work with latest and greatest technology, including our proprietary applications developed by our in-house experts. Students will not get that exposure anywhere else.

But, students aren’t the only ones that benefit from an internship program. What’s in it for the employers?

  1. Receive a fresh perspective. Students today are exposed to so much more during their academic tour than ever before. By inviting them to meetings and asking for their ideas, we can get a fresh perspective on our current practices. It is also a good idea to challenge them to look around the department and the company to find ways to improve processes.
  2. Test drive the talent. Not only do the interns get to test-drive the possibility of a career, but as a hiring manager, you too get to be in the driver’s seat for the trial period to observe the student’s work ethic and skills before committing to an offer of full-time employment.
  3. Reduce the learning curve. You will drastically close the skills gap, as you now have a well-trained student who will be ready to hit the ground running once they graduate. A previous intern made employee will know your processes, practices, and standards making onboarding a much easier task.
  4. Create a pipeline of talent. If you are successful with your internship program, you will notice an increase in applications from universities. Former interns are the best marketing campaigns a company can have in their corner.

As you can see, internships provide a wealth of benefits to both students and employers. The cost of an internship program is immeasurable when you are mentoring the next generation and raising the bar for the industry.

I will leave the students with one last thought; before you invest in swimsuits and beach towels next summer, think about investing in your career with an internship. To check out SAM’s Internship Program and the many benefits we have to offer, visit our Careers page.

Kelli Howard

Kelli joined SAM in 2012. She has over 16 years of experience in recruiting, with more than eight in the A/E/C industry. She leads the talent acquisition team, with a primary focus in attracting and retaining top talent.

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