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Internships Can Be a Win-Win for Students and Employers

April 06, 2018 | Nancye Kirk

As the school year starts winding down, students are gearing up and engaging in the great internship hunt. They have learned that an internship will enable them to graduate with a resume showing experience as well as a diploma. That’s why internships are a common thread that runs through the real estate property management programs at such schools as University of Wisconsin-Stout, Ball State University, Virginia Tech, and the University of Alaska Anchorage. On these campuses, internships are an integral part of the curriculum, providing the opportunity for on-the-job learning as well as academic credit.

For employers, internships can be the first step toward a new hire who has been tried and tested and for this reason have become central to their ongoing employee recruitment efforts. Indeed, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the average conversion rate from intern to full-time hire in 2017 was 51.3 percent.

If you are an employer who has considered taking on interns but don’t know where to start, here are some things to think about when creating an internship position—drawn from IREM’s Employer’s Guide to Developing a Rewarding Internship Program in Real Estate Management.

  • First, do your best to minimize purely clerical work. While all jobs involve some amount of repetitive and administrative tasks, your intern is not there to help your staff catch up on filing and other mundane tasks.
  • Second, have projects planned ahead of time. In planning projects and the interns’ roles, allow them the ability to follow through on tasks, and give them some decision making authority over their projects. Keep in mind that the internship should be a learning experience. Develop learning goals for the interns and make sure the projects and assignments help the students achieve those goals.
  • Third, design the position so that the interns have the opportunity to work with all the departments in your organization. Many companies find success with a rotating schedule—for example, summer interns at a residential property may spend four weeks with the leasing department, four weeks learning budgeting and accounting, and four weeks with maintenance. While the exact structure will depend on the duration of the internship and hours worked, this allows the interns to experience the wide range of functions within your company.
  • Finally, when creating the position, identify the level of skills and experience you expect from your interns and keep this in mind as you develop the rest of the program. If you plan to recruit graduate students, the position should reflect a higher level of knowledge and experience than if you are expecting undergraduates. An undergraduate student may work up to reading a property budget over the course of the internship; a graduate student should be able to do so—and calculate common financial metrics—from the beginning.
  • About the Author

    Nancye Kirk, in her role as IREM’s chief strategy officer, supports real estate management businesses in the U.S. and throughout the world, helping them address the big issues with which they are wrestling – issues related to business strategy and growth, talent management and best practices.

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