By: Richard Wolbach, NNECERAPPA Business Partner Committee Chair & Liaison – University of Vermont
The University of Vermont (UVM) Physical Plant has embarked on a student intern program to expose UVM students to facilities management. This is a paid intern program that allows students (primarily in engineering – but not exclusive) to obtain working knowledge of what our organization does on a daily basis. In the winter months, e-mails and documentation are sent to the UVM School of Engineering UVM School of Business to solicit for summer intern jobs. Over the past two (2) years, we have had approximately ten (10) interns. Primarily, students have come from electrical, mechanical and civil engineering academic areas. We plan on expanding internship offers to those students outside of engineering, especially in the area of business.
Student interns are interviewed and eventually assigned to Physical Plant mentors / employees to shadow projects, as well as get assignments to perform duties associated with actual UVM tasks. Deadlines are outlined and meetings are held with the students on their weekly performance. Each intern is expected to handle numerous projects and multi-task, as appropriate. Power point presentations and written technical reports are due at the end of each project or employment cycle. Presentations are given in front of an audience to expose student interns to public speaking and professional presentation skills. Project documentation is saved to be used during the actual project process and/or future campus applications.
Our recent UVM intern team presented, with great success, at the 2009 ERAPPA Conference in Portland, Maine. Our team consisted of the following individuals:
Sal Chiarelli; Director of UVM Physical Plant
Richard Wolbach; Intern Team Leader & Advisor
Evan Malina; Mechanical Engineering student – worked with Richard Wolbach
Josh Hogan; Civil Engineering student – worked with Luce Hillman & Rosemarie Leland
Nick Chiarelli; Mechanical Engineering student – worked with David Blatchly & Michael Wells
Travis Rohlin; Electrical Engineering graduate – worked with Charles Norton
Each UVM student presented their own individual projects with the ERAPPA audience. Many questions and answers ensued. I was very proud of our UVM team! They were professional, well-prepared and provided good technical information to our ERAPPA attendees. It should be noted that most of their presentations were actual UVM projects that were completed during their tenure — as a summer intern. One of our PPD interns, Travis Rohlin, was hired to work in our Physical Plant, controls group. He has been an excellent addition to our UVM, PPD team.
This program is mutually beneficial to both UVM and our students. It does take a dedicated staff to mentor these students. The institutional rewards far outweigh the cost. They gain valuable experience in "facilities management," in order to make an educated decision for potential, future employment in this rewarding field. We gain by better understanding our campus customers – who are our students. I would highly recommend an intern program for your school or institution!