Interns and their Engineering Firms Succeeding Together, says NACE


Employees who completed an internship or co-op program with their employer are more likely to be with the company at both the one-year and five-year retention benchmarks, according to a study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

“Having an internship program helps us identify talent,” said Renee Gartelos, director of human resources for Kansas City engineering firm Burns & McDonnell, which last year hired more than 200 interns, all paid. “Internship programs are critical to our overall recruitment strategy.”

Eighty-five percent of Burns & McDonnell’s interns are converted to full-time employees, she said.

Mike Nguyen, 24, a sophomore engineering student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, has a $15-an-hour internship this summer at a local engineering firm.

“I hope to get everyday experience,” Nguyen said. He went through three interviews to get the job. “I hope to make connections.”

An October 2014 study from Michigan State University’s College Employment Research Institute found that engineering interns commanded an average mean salary $16.47 per hour, the highest amount compared with other professions in the survey such as accounting, business, social science, healthcare and humanities/communications.

Additionally, engineering interns at very large companies with more 10,000 employees averaged a wage of $18.86 per hour, according to the Michigan State survey. And employers made full-time offers to 64.8 percent of those interns.

Organizations seeking to bring on interns rate communications presentations skills as one of a number of key components for a successful internship. For instance, a list of tips to interns from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology Inc. highlights as a key attribute the “ability to communicate and actively engage with management and leadership without sounding academic or overly formal.”

Interns, on the other hand, valued real-world training first and foremost.

Surveyed participants including BASF Corporation, Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., McKesson Corporation, Parsons Corporation, W.W. Grainger, Inc. and others.

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