Take advantage of the educational skill set and help influence the curriculum of future construction industry leaders

College and university faculty in construction and applied engineering programs often have years of industry experience. However, it’s very easy to become disconnected from the “real world” that educators try to teach their students about each day. Fortunately, there are ways that educators can stay current and connected, thanks to companies who see the value of offering faculty internships in their organizations.

Similar to an internship for students, most faculty would need to work during the summer months, when they are typically not teaching. Summer for professors usually involves consulting, research or simply working a different job. Many of them would jump at the opportunity to spend two or three months completely immersed in construction instead of trying to keep current with the industry in addition to juggling a full teaching load during the semester.

If your company happens to be one of the rare breeds that hires college educators as interns, then congratulations, you are one of the very few who do. Searching the Internet for “faculty internships” and other similar terms yields almost nothing in industry and higher education partnerships. So what would a faculty internship look like?

Summer employment for faculty can be as diverse as the companies who offer them and the type of work that they do, so there is no “one size fits all” solution. If you already have a student internship program in place, then you’re off to a good start. Use a similar structure for faculty, only at a higher level of competency and responsibility. You can also let your specific needs dictate the setup, such as completing special projects or meeting certain goals and deliverables by the end of summer. Find a way to match your work to their interests and give them a good challenge to tackle, and you won’t find a more motivated, engaged or grateful employee.

Why the Interest?
You may be wondering if anyone would be interested if you offered such a program, and that’s a fair question. Ask faculty who teach in programs that emphasize practical application, and you will find the answer to be a resounding yes. Educators with a construction industry background see working for you as a constructive way to keep learning and stay connected. It’s an opportunity for them to improve themselves and gain new tools to take back to the classroom.

What’s In It for you?
The benefits of partnering with higher education are numerous. Obvious benefits are the ability to take advantage of a professor’s expertise in a certain subject area to help with a particular need or utilize their skill set for corporate training or research. Typically, faculty are already experienced and have the capability to hit the ground running. The benefits that are harder to quantify, but still palpable are the relationships your company builds with university programs and students. You will be mentioned countless times in the classroom as a great place to build a career, enjoy easy and frequent access to the best and brightest students and be a significant influence on campus. Your reputation will only continue to grow as each summer spent working with faculty passes.

If you have ever had a high-level project that you never had time to get to, needed a consultant for a few months with a specific skill set or wished you had someone at the office who could help train your workforce, then consider creating a faculty internship program at your company. If you would like to have more of a presence within a certain program, help influence curriculum and teaching methods, provide experiential learning opportunities or get to know the future leaders of our industry, then reach out to the faculty in a nearby college or university. Educators are your best contact to accomplish all of this and more. You might be surprised to see how much it impacts the success of your company.