The Power of an Intern
By Ethan Weiss
I must begin this blog post by expressing my sincere appreciation and thanks to Hereva for taking a chance on an intern and giving me the biggest opportunity of my young life. Almost one year later I sit here reflecting on where I began and where I am now.
When a company decides to take on an intern, especially one that is still in school, there may be some uncertainty, understandably so. However, I assure you the benefits are endless. Bringing on a college student who is eager to learn the ins-and-outs of a business they hope to work in one day can inject a youthful exuberance into your work place; it can bring new ideas, initiatives, trends, and practices that may not yet be at the forefront of the firm’s mind; and it can give your company credibility that it is committed to cultivating the next generation of professionals.
One of the things I love the most about working at Hereva is the fun we have while still doing fantastic work. Bringing in an intern who is eager to learn and passionate about what they are doing can revitalize the energy in the office. Coworkers who see that passion and curiosity will be excited to teach the intern the inner workings of their profession. If the energy in your office feels stale, if you think you need to kickstart some of your employees and freshen up the scene, I recommend contacting local colleges and asking about their co-op programs.
Interns can introduce and inform your company of new practices and ideas that are being generated in the classroom. An example of this is the new initiatives that are being established and taught in the field of sustainability. More often than not, when a new building is planned, the owner wants to achieve LEED and WELL certifications. Although LEED is not a new initiative, WELL is just gaining steam in the industry. In classrooms, students are learning about LEED and WELL at an early stage, so they become acclimated to what they will face in the workplace. In some cases, students even have the opportunity to get a LEED association before graduating. Professors are educating students about the rigorous undertaking of becoming LEED and WELL certified, the steps it takes to gain building certification, and exactly what the LEED and WELL associations will be looking for when assessing the final building product. New practices are being established and students sometimes are the first ones to know about it. Interns can make an immediate impact and bring insights their coworkers might not know about. We might even be able to teach our coworkers something new. The right intern can come in at full speed and provide great work with little training necessary.
My last point is especially important to those in the Project Management field. This community is very tight knit, as I have come to learn. You might only be within two degrees of separation of your next client, or your next big job. The opportunities are everywhere for an intern to step into a key role and do things that really matter at a firm. That opportunity only exists if employers continue to hire and actively engage interns like myself. It is so important that the Project Management community continues to grow the younger generation of professionals. In our office we joke all the time about the millennials that we work with, me being one of them. But the fact is, millennials are here. We are the next wave of professionals that are going to take the reins in Project Management. It is to everyone’s benefit if companies try their best to cultivate young interns into proficient, agile, and beneficial workers. In addition, it reflects well on your company if potential clients and even competing firms see that there is a lot of young talent in your company’s pipeline. It is rejuvenating and attractive.
Hiring an intern is, in my opinion, a low risk that yields a potential high reward. It is a two-way street though. I caution you to treat hiring an intern like you would hiring any other employee. You need to find the right fit. It would be a waste of everyone’s time and resources to stick them behind a desk doing meaningless busy work. Empower your intern. Allow them to be an important part of the team, and you will be a huge part of their bright future.
Ethan Weiss is pursuing a BS in Facility Planning and Management at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, MA. He has interned at Hereva as a Project Coordinator.