Sponsoring an internship program offers a number of great advantages for virtually any remodeling company. Here are just a few of the benefits.
1. Recruiting tool: Interns are a great way to bring potential staff into an industry that’s struggling to find younger people to fill positions.
2. Trial period for potential employees: Working with students part time is a perfect way to “test drive” a potential permanent hire without having to make a larger commitment. After graduation, many people go on to apply for full-time jobs with the company where they interned.
3. Extra set of hands: The additional help that an intern provides allows your employees to get more done on higher-level tasks without being distracted by side projects.
4. Helping the community: Sponsoring an internship program is a wonderful way to form deeper roots in your community. It can also be an excellent morale builder for your staff and provide the students with valuable job experience.
5. Fresh ideas: New people, especially young people, can bring enthusiasm, ideas, and technology skills to your business. This is especially beneficial to small and medium-size companies.
6. High retention rate: In one study of internships, employers made full-time job offers to 56.5 percent of their interns and retained 88.9 percent of those hires after a year, according to a survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
7. Lower-cost labor: While it’s important to mentor all interns, which takes time, their salaries are lower than other employees and there’s no legal obligation to cover many of the expenses that go along with hiring staff, such as unemployment benefits.
8. Company advantage: Young people often seek jobs with larger or well-known companies. Internships allow smaller businesses to market their strengths: a true learning experience and relevant, hands-on training.
The Mosby Building Arts design intern program had organic origins. Several of our designers are graduates of the Southeast Missouri State University (SEMO) design and architecture program, and they’ve maintained relationships with the university by donating surplus samples and acting as a resource for students.
Earlier this year, a group of SEMO students came to the Mosby office for a tour and seminar. After witnessing their enthusiasm and skills, our design/build business manager, Jack Culian, saw an opportunity to create an excellent internship program.
We now offer a two-month paid internship that counts as a college credit. Our program is structured so that the student receives real-world work experience while covering necessary material for the university’s educational needs. The SEMO faculty is made up of design professionals, so the curriculum is based on the real-life skills needed to help students become highly employable design professionals upon graduation. We show the students what it’s actually like to apply those skills in a fast-paced, client-based environment.
Our first intern, Kelci Pennock, will graduate in December, with a major in interior design and a minor in architectural design and drafting. When she started our program, Kelci went through orientation as if she was a new hire. She received Mosby logo shirts, her own desk, and a company email account. As an intern, she has been attending weekly design/build department meetings, assisting the Mosby designers with measurement and photo appointments in clients’ homes, and drafting the data into 3-D renderings and construction drawings. This is coupled with educational meetings with all Mosby team members so that she learns not only the deadline-based design process, but also the business, marketing, and customer service sides of the remodeling industry.
At Mosby, we build relationships before building projects, and we’ve approached our internship program in the same manner. For any such program to be a success, it’s crucial that the intern has a mentor whom he or she can meet with regularly. Mosby assistant designer Michelle Bridgewater has acted as Kelci’s mentor, and for us, this is a long-term relationship that extends beyond the two-month in-office experience.
For companies interested in exploring an internship program, we recommend starting where a relationship already exists, such as a local college or a staff member’s alma mater, and focusing on which aspect of your business you’re most passionate about that will also benefit a student. The beauty of an internship program is that by helping a student achieve his or her educational goals, you also nurture valuable future employees for our industry. We’re looking forward to seeing what Kelci does after graduation. PR
Toby Weiss is marketing coordinator for Mosby Building Arts, a design/build firm in St. Louis.