By Tamara Sheehan
Director of Business Management
As demand for qualified facility managers (FMs) rises, so do hands-on training opportunities. If online job boards are any indication, there’s been a recent uptick in facility management internship postings. It makes sense! There’s growing supply and demand in the FM market—more businesses are prioritizing space optimization and more professionals are willing to answer the call.
Internship benefits: Company
FM internships are a low-cost, low-risk, low-pressure way to explore the benefits of better facilities management. For companies with no practical workplace planning initiatives, FM internships are learning opportunities for both the business and the intern. Take a look at the benefits of hiring a facility management intern:
- Internships are finite. This gives companies the option to experiment with a small investment in facilities management. If results are good, they can hire the intern. If ROI doesn’t stack up, it’s easy to move on.
- Interns are moldable. Companies can mold an up-and-coming professional to their standards and expectations. It’s easier to create new habits and expectations than to change those ingrained in someone with years of on-the-job experience somewhere else.
- Internships are controllable. They operate outside the realm of immediate impact. An intern can spend time learning, modeling, and exploring—without the pressure of having to make an immediate impact. Likewise, it protects the company from early missteps affecting operations.
- Internship investment is manageable. The investment in an internship is easy to control. Interns won’t command the same salary as a tenured professional. Moreover, free trials and stripped-down software versions make it easy to get interns up and running at almost no additional cost.
- Internships are motivating. For interns currently working toward FM certification, the prospect of a full-time position is motivating. Not only does it encourage them to secure certification, it prompts them to contribute and develop strong cultural ties.
Think of an FM internship as a learning experience. If things go well, everyone benefits. From the company perspective, it’s about finding someone who can take the lead on an important new initiative, helping to optimize one of the biggest businesses expenses. If they’re able to turn that expense into an asset, their internship becomes one of the best investments you can make.
Internship benefits: Intern
The growth of facilities management jobs has outpaced the talent pool. That means there are plenty of opportunities for new graduates interested in facility management. But there’s also a learning curve. It takes time to get familiar with FM expectations, software, best-practices, and duties. There’s also the path to certification to consider after getting a formal degree. To that end, it makes sense to start a facilities management career with an internship:
- Real-world learning. Interns get on-the-job exposure to workplace operations. It’s a great way to familiarize themselves with real-world situations in a functioning workplace. Internships bridge the gap between institutional learning and real-world experience.
- Low pressure. Interns have little “real” responsibility—that is, tasks that directly affect the business. This low-pressure scenario builds confidence, while allowing interns to familiarize themselves with expectations and tasks.
- Opportunity knocks. An internship is a foot in the door at a company that may hire full-time when the internship ends. It’s an opportunity to build rapport and establish yourself as someone who can contribute meaningfully to the team as a salaried employee in the future.
- Career experience. Internships are an inclusive path to a career as a facility manager. Instead of working at a coffee shop while you go to school or taking online FM certification courses, your entire professional focus is on what you want to be doing.
- Career decision now. Internships go a long way toward confirming someone’s chosen career path. They’ll quickly realize this is (or isn’t) what they expected, helping them make more informed, confident decisions about their future plans as an FM professional.
Interns learn the ropes, encounter real-world situations, become familiar with expectations, and get a taste of what their career choice has to offer. More importantly, they’ll get the chance to illustrate their value to a potential employer.
Connecting interns with available opportunities means looking at several different channels. Not every company is going to take the same approach to offering their internship. Checking each channel will yield the best results in finding an opportunity.
- Job boards are the easiest way to reach the broadest audience. Unfortunately, they also come with the most competition. This can make it hard for interns to distinguish themselves. Likewise, companies may fall victim to the paradox of choice.
- The International Facility Manager Association (IFMA) hosts a collection of internships on its website. Usually, an IFMA internship connects distinguished individuals with Fortune 500 companies.
- Partnerships between local companies and universities creates a pipeline for internships. A business that recruits from a local college won’t have any problem finding interns. They’ll also avoid the lengthy process that comes from job board postings.
Companies can also post internship opportunities directly to their website or offer opportunities to current employees.
Internships are a valuable part of developing talent for a new position. They benefit both companies and interns, and should be part of any growing business’ strategy for making space planning a priority.
Keep reading: Facility management certification (new guide).