Tips on Gaining Valuable Experiences Through Summer Internships
Summer means different things to different people. For me, living in the Northeast, it means a welcome break from the frigid winter we’ve had this year. For high school and college students however, the summer means time to take a much-needed break from the classroom. Many use the break from school to take internships or summer jobs. Either one is a great way to gain valuable work experience and to try a potential career on for size.
The apartment industry offers many types of career opportunities and we encourage students who might be interested in an apartment career to take a summer job or internship in our industry. That’s particularly important for college students nearing graduation. Many apartment management companies have their own internship programs that are designed to give college students a taste of life in the industry.
For example, Marie Virgilio serves as director of recruiting for Weidner Apartment Homes. Her company provides 40 to 50 summer internships each year to college students.
“The internship is an opportunity for us to see what kind of worker they would be,” she said. “For the student, it’s an opportunity for them to try on the apartment industry to see if it’s an area in which they might want to work in the future.”
Approximately 30 percent of the company’s interns eventually accept full-time jobs with Weidner after graduation, she said.
Virgilio said she looks for students who have a good work ethic and whose values align with those of the company. She said she can teach skills, but she can’t teach core values. That’s why DECA students are particularly appealing to her. She knows DECA students are self-motivated and high achievers.
Justin Tran is property manager at The Millennium at Metropolitan Park in Arlington, Va., and did several internships while studying residential property management at Virginia Tech University. He now works for one of the companies, Kettler Management, where he did an internship. He also mentors other interns.
“You can only learn so much in class,” Tran said. “The actual day-to-day business of running a property is not always exactly what you learn in a textbook.”
Tran offers the following tips for students planning to do an internship in property management:
- Have an open mind and experience as much as you can to see where you might fit in the industry.
- Learn as much as you can while doing the internship because that will help you in the future.
- Take advantage of the opportunity to do an internship in an area of the country that you might not have experienced before.
- Talk with other students and academic advisors when deciding where to do an internship.
Many medium-sized and large apartment management companies have internship programs. Details can often be found on company websites. Tran also encourages students to attend career fairs and learn about opportunities by talking directly with company representatives.
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