By Hannah Haygood, HR Generalist and Campus Recruiter
There’s a lot of uncertainty right now. Classes are cancelled. Students are out of school. But that shouldn’t mean students should stop planning for their futures. In fact, I’ve been contacted by several universities who are planning to hold digital recruiting opportunities for their students. Maybe you already have your internship lined up for the summer or fall. Or maybe you’re still talking with companies and hoping to secure your spot soon. Either way, I’d like to take a moment to share some tips from my own experience that can help you be the best possible candidate or intern you can be. My job is to go onto campuses and look for the best and brightest candidates for our co-op and internship program. Here’s the top 5 things I’m – and other construction companies — are looking for in an intern:
1. Attitude – First and foremost, attitude is key. A construction internship is an amazing opportunity to get real-life, on the job experience in an exciting industry. But let’s be honest, as an intern you’ll be assigned a few tasks that aren’t very fun. They are, however, essential to our project’s success. If you show a positive attitude and tackle all the little tasks with enthusiasm and attention, your mentor will take notice and most likely reward you with more responsibility.
2. Organization and Time Management – Commercial construction projects are complex, challenging, and constantly progressing. Our co-ops play very important roles and are trusted with jobs that directly impact our project’s progress and success. You will be busy and will work on multiple projects during your rotation. You have to be able to stay organized and on top of all of your work. You’re not expected to know everything, but you will be expected to be organized and meet deadlines. Look at the big picture and prioritize your work to ensure you’re getting everything done in the order it best serves the project.
3. Communication – We like to say this is a people business. We build buildings, but to do that successfully we have to build strong relationships based on clear and consistent communication. You will be asked to communicate with project managers, superintendents, trade partners, architects, and possibly even our clients. You need to be able to communicate clear expectations, listen carefully to instructions, and relay important messages and updates to your mentor. The good news is you’ll also be able to sit in on meetings and learn from our experts on how to lead communication efforts and build those crucial relationships.
4. Work Ethic – You will get out of your internship what you are willing to put in. I’d advise you to think of your time interning as a full-time job. You’re not here to shadow employees, you’re here to help them complete large-scale projects for our clients. Your internship with a company is essentially a very long job interview. Take your work seriously and make yourself essential. If you leave and the people you worked with notice your absence, chances are you’ll be asked back.
5. Initiative – Last, but definitely not least, take initiative to learn. I said it earlier but I want to repeat it — you are not expected to know everything. But you are expected to want to know more. To ask questions. To listen. To improve. You are going to fail. Maybe more than once, but that’s fine. That’s all part of learning. Take responsibility for your mistakes and ask how you can correct it in the future. You are working for us and helping our company, but our ultimate goal is for you to walk away with more knowledge and experience than you arrived. Knowledge that will help you pursue a successful career in this industry we love so much.
In a job interview, you only have the ability to tell an employer how great you are. During an internship, you have the opportunity to show them. Do that by leading with a positive attitude, being organized, communicating clearly, working hard, and always asking questions and you’ll leave them with an impression far more memorable than a full resume. That’s the way to turn an internship into a full-time position. For more tips on how to get hired after your internship, read this.