Internships are important to both emerging professionals and to the companies that offer them. In the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) market internships are critical to the continued growth and advancement of the industry. Internships may very well curb “brain drain” and aid in the economic development of Arkansas.
Students get access to vital experience that shows them what a potential career path will be like. This exposure can help them have a broad perspective on industry which can enhance their competitiveness in the classroom and eventually help them become a more attractive potential employee
For employers, hosting interns is a great way to identify, attract, and retain talent. This is important in this industry in Arkansas at a time when many academics believe that students must leave our state to fully reach their potential.
The internship requirements for AEC students in Arkansas vary greatly from school to school and program to program. At University of Arkansas Little Rock, Engineering and Construction Management majors require 800 hours of professional experience for graduation. This can come in several forms of experience, including an internship. The three interior design programs in the state, at University of Arkansas, University of Central Arkansas, and Harding University, require an internship to graduate from each of their individual programs. These internships usually occur in a design-related company. The architecture students in the Fay Jones School of Architecture program at University of Arkansas are not required to participate in an internship before graduation.
According to the United States Congress Joint Economic Committee’s study titled “Losing Our Minds: Brain Drain across the United States,” college educated Arkansans are more likely to leave the state, leaving us in a position of potential economic stagnation. To help curb this issue, the AEC industry in Arkansas can offer internships to students, which will help attract and retain talent in the industry. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) 2019 survey, there is a 56.1 percent average conversion rate from intern to full-time hire. And, 71.4 percent of those interns stay for at least one year or more.
Interns have great success at getting full-time job offers at a higher rate. According to the NACE survey, 57.5 percent of students with internships received a job offer, compared to 43.7 percent for those who didn’t. Paid internships at companies are more impressive to employers, with 66.4 percent of students with paid internships receiving job offers, while an average of 43.7 percent of unpaid interns were offered a job.
Actively promoting internships for degree-seeking young people in the AEC industry is a step that must be taken to help attract and retain talent. We must recognize this step as an integral part of the development of students, the industry, and our state.