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Facility Management Internships Real World Practices, Challenges and Opportunities. Presented by: Joseph Geierman, CFM, FMP Kathy Roper, CFM, MCR, LEED-AP, IFMA Fellow. Meet Our Presenters:. Kathy Roper, CFM, MCR, LEED AP, IFMA Fellow Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology.

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Facility Management Internships

Real World Practices, Challenges and Opportunities

Presented by:

Joseph Geierman, CFM, FMP

Kathy Roper, CFM, MCR, LEED-AP, IFMA Fellow

Meet Our Presenters:

Kathy Roper, CFM, MCR, LEED AP, IFMA Fellow

Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology

Joseph Geierman, CFM, FMP

Senior Facilities Operations Manager at

Troutman Sanders LLP

  • The Challenge

  • Increased number of colleges and universities offering FM as a major.

  • To compete, graduates still need real world experience

  • Internship programs in FM departments have been few and far between

    • Not usually a core (profit center) business function

    • Facility Managers have not known how to start a program or how to find interns

  • Survey and Interviews

  • 65 FMs responded to questions regarding their experience with and interest in internship programs

  • Interviews with 3 FM students who’ve participated in internship programs

  • In depth Interview with 1 FM who has worked with interns in her department

  • Interview with administrator for a Facility Management program at a university

  • Interviewees

  • Karen Cochran, LEED AP, CFM - Sustainability Lead at PG&E in San Francisco

  • Brenda Morris – Recruitment Officer at Georgia Tech school of Building Construction

  • Ryan Lee – GA Tech Student / Intern

  • Elizabeth Wilson – GA Tech Student / Intern

  • Sola Mosuro – GA Tech Student / Intern

  • Potential Benefits of Internship Programs

  • 82% of respondents believed an internship enhances a candidate’s competitiveness in the job market

    • A possible way to identify future employees

  • Accomplish tasks that could not otherwise get done

  • Department benefits from interns’ enthusiasm

Potential benefits of internship programs
Potential Benefits of Internship Programs

  • Studies from related fields (tourism, hospitality, management) have found benefits for:

    • Students – experiences, real world learning about work world

    • Employers – preview of potential employees, and access to new views and staffing

    • Industry – better qualified entry level and early career employees who understand more

  • How Interns Are Being Found

  • Professional associations

    • CoreNet Internship program (now discontinued)

  • Referral from Colleges/Universities

    • When approached directly by companies

    • Georgia Tech’s Building Construction & Facility Management Master’s Program

  • Applications from Organization website

    • Government laboratory

  • DOL Criteria for Unpaid Interns

  • Provides training similar to what would be given in an educational environment

  • The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;

  • The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff

  • The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern

  • DOL Criteria for Unpaid Interns

  • The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship

  • The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

  • What’s Holding us Back?

  • Cost Constraints

  • No idea where to find candidates

  • Uncertainty about intern tasks

    • Time commitment from FM

  • FM Not a Core business function

    • “Interns should be hired by outsourcers”

  • Lack of support from professional groups

  • Not all colleges have efficient way of connecting employers to students

  • Cost Constraints

  • Several survey respondents indicated they do not have a budget for internships

  • Would need help understanding the costs and scope to include in budget

  • There needs to be a clear pay-off to the organization

  • “Funding is an issue; if any internships can be unpaid (or funded outside our company), that would help a lot.”

  • Finding Candidates

  • Some survey respondents indicated they do not know where to find interns

  • “We need a good pipeline of candidates”

  • “We would need help with the recruiting process”

  • Assigning Work to Interns

  • Several respondents did not know what to have interns do for them

    • Requests for sample job descriptions

    • Looking for examples of what other companies do

  • “[I would need] a prototype job description and some sense of salary requirements.”

  • “[I would need] a description of the duties interns perform at other companies, and what those programs look like.”

  • Assigning Work to Interns

  • Time commitment

    • Requires someone to come up with a work-plan

    • Provide guidance/leadership/shadowing

    • Fear intern may take FM away from core responsibilities

  • “The only thing that holds people back from utilizing the resource is that it takes time to direct them and supervise them.”

  • Lack of Support from Professional Associations

  • CoreNet had a program, but has discontinued it.

  • No leadership from IFMA on this issue

  • If we do not get these people when they are new to the industry, we risk them viewing our associations as irrelevant.

  • Marks of a Successful Internship Program

  • The work being asked of the intern should be meaningful to the organization

  • There should be a finite deliverable that can be accomplished within the timeframe they are working there.

  • Choose the project, then choose interns based on the skills required for that project (number crunching, engineering, etc)

  • Assign the intern a mentor (or mentors) they can shadow

  • Meaningful Work

  • Work that no one has time to do

    • PG&E had an intern pull together a report on the history of their HQ building

    • Had been outstanding for years

    • Others have suggested small projects that might otherwise go undone

  • MacPherson Implementing Local Redevelopment Agency

    • Former military base

    • Student conducted detailed surveys of the buildings

  • Mentorship/Shadowing

  • Provides opportunity for student to observe real world activities in the FM arena, and:

    • A. Learn from them

    • B. Determine whether this is the right career path

  • “Not only have I learned a lot about building systems and processes, but I have learned great leadership and motivational skills from my mentor. I look forward to coming into work every day!” – Elizabeth Wilson

Quick survey
Quick Survey

  • Would your internship experience become available or be enhanced by available guidelines and/or tools to link students & openings?

  • Do you believe more internships will improve the FM industry? Is this worthwhile?

  • Leave us your card if you want to participate or help develop the guides or receive them


Thanks for your attention and help