Should Students Intern With Construction Companies?

The answer is more complicated than you might think

She looks like she's learning a lot!
Is a construction internship worth it?. Echo // Getty Images

Suppose you are a student, studying to complete a degree course in construction management. If you want to be employed in this field, then go for internship. Now suppose you are responsible for hiring new employees for a construction company or organization. Same thing: go for internship. Offering internships to suitable candidates smooths the path to quality recruitment afterwards.

However, an internship with a construction company that works for both parties also means satisfying certain conditions.

The quick answer given above to the ‘intern or not’ question makes a number of assumptions. The definitive answer can only be given after checking these assumptions hold good.

What Are Construction Companies and Students Looking For?

Internships are test drives. Students get the opportunity to see a construction company and its business culture from the inside, and to decide if they would like to work for that company. The company can try working with its interns before making a stronger commitment in hiring them as full-time employees. In both cases, those who are selective and goal-driven about the internship will be the ones to get most out of the experience.

How is the Internship Structured?

Effective education is structured, as is professional training. Internships, a blend of the two, need to be structured too. Office time and on-site time, as well as time spent working with different functional departments, should be defined ahead of time.

Construction company employees should be informed about why interns spend time in their company and how they should be working together.

How Well Does the Internship Correspond to Real Construction Work?

If gripes about internships are made by interns, they often concern the relevance of the work to which they are assigned.

Sitting in cubicles too far from the sharp end of the business or recycling academic theory instead of getting hands-on practice may lead to disenchantment with the internship and even with a career in construction. PC Construction, headquartered in Vermont, US, promises interns hands-on challenges with active participation in major projects ranging over water treatment, healthcare, high-tech facilities, and more.

What Else Goes Into the Internship?

Internships are also balancing acts. Construction companies offering internships need to offer enough responsibility and variety. At the same time, they must make sure that inexperienced students are not stretched too far. Mentoring is often a useful addition to an internship program, in which an experienced employee or executive supervises and advises the intern on how best to make progress. The Kokosing Construction Company, one of the largest contractors in the Midwest, integrates mentorship into a personalized work plan for each intern it takes onboard.

What Is The End Result?

A successful internship should result in relevant, hands-on experience for the intern and a positive contribution to the construction company offering the internship.

Such experience is prized by prospective employers and for that reason is often a mandatory part of a university degree course. US construction services company Turner goes even further by stating that “Through our own internship program, we are shaping the future leaders of our company.”

When all of the points above are handled in a way that makes business and career sense and brings mutual advantage to interns and their sponsors, the answer to the question “Should Students Intern With Construction Companies?” is clear: it’s yes, they should. Statistics also show that on average, 45-65 percent of graduates from construction management courses then move into full-time employment with the company that offered them their internship.