After the 2008 recession, Bill McGuire, Dan Christman and Chris Kearney from EXP’s Orlando office were tasked with recruiting top talent and building their teams. This rebuilding period was marked by rapid growth, largely due to a new successful intern development program.

For the US South Buildings group, who are known for working on some of the world’s most inspiring entertainment, hospitality, healthcare and science projects and delivering unmatched mechanical, electrical, plumbing and lighting design services, their internship process is equally as bold and matches their philosophy with clients – become involved early. The team believes recruiting starts with bringing interns into the office culture and immersing them into their process and projects. Don’t just tell them, show them – which becomes their differentiator.

Every year, team members, also known as ambassadors, visit specific colleges, usually their alma mater to recruit future interns and full-time hires. The ambassadors maintain relationships with the colleges throughout the academic year. They visit universities ranging from Kansas State, Penn State and Milwaukee School of Engineering, to Cal Poly and many others. Ahead of the career fair, the ambassadors plan meetings with college students about the prospect of a summer internship and the potential to visit the EXP office as the next step on the path to becoming an intern.

For former intern and now full-time mechanical designer Amanda Green, the selection process is where you learn “Why EXP?”

“When I interviewed with EXP before my internship started, I was able to hear about the projects I would work on, talk to the experts I would work with and ask endless que to interview each other, and it opened my eyes to the opportunities they were offering. The internship allowed me to experience the culture and determine if it was a good fit for me. After my internship, I could not wait to join the team full time and see where my career would go.”

Once selected for an internship, the interns learn the ins-and-outs of the industry through guidance from mentors and with the support of fellow employees throughout the summer. Since many interns come from out of state and are living in a new place with new people, the office becomes their EXP family.

“They need to know that they have a support system, whether it’s their fellow interns or leadership. We’re here to make sure they have a successful summer and learn as much as possible in their short time here,” Dan said. The interns are treated like full time employees and for many, it can be their first taste of what post-grad life entails. They are included in EXP’s dynamic project offerings, exposed to client meetings and field visits, invited on office outings and are fully immersed in the office culture. Interns get a real sense of the types of projects they will encounter, what their mentors and co-workers will be like, and in some cases, learn what living in that far away city will be like. “The experience must be extremely positive and educational. If it’s done right, they go back to school and tell their friends,” said Bill McGuire.

The US South Buildings group team knows that the summer is critical because it allows them to learn who is interested in working with the team for the long haul and it grants them an opportunity to see who will fit into the team. Their annual commitment to hiring interns allows them to build a team that is filled with young minds who appreciate the importance of a tight-knit team and solid relationships, as well as to stay fresh and relevant in the minds of students at the targeted universities.

Bill explained, “An internship is a catalyst for success. It is our responsibility to provide information to propel their career forward, while fostering talent and building a culture of belonging amongst individuals who are interested in engineering, architecture, design and the services we offer our clients.” At EXP, the success of internship programs starts at the very beginning, and instills the entrepreneurial and relationship driven culture that exists throughout offices and partnerships.

*Originally published in EXP’s Expresso: Shaping Tomorrow