As the school year winds down, many college students will be focused on finals and making plans for the summer. For those looking for professional experience in the form of a summer internship, there are seemingly endless options available. The difficult choice may not be if they should do a summer internship, but where and with whom. The Kansas City District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hopes to attract some of these students with its newly established Summer Student Intern Program.
There are separate intern programs within the Kansas City District, and although there have been summer interns in the past, 2023 will be the first year the program is district-wide. Previously, each division or section in the district oversaw their own summer intern program. Now, the program will be standardized so that all student interns have a similar experience.
“We want [the Summer Student Intern Program] district-wide so all of them will have the same, good, positive experience,” said Cali Brown, Kansas City District talent outreach coordinator. “As an employer, there is an expectation that you have an established [summer] internship program … so it’s great that we have this.”
Having a district-wide program is mutually beneficial to both students and the district. The hope is that the student interns will have a positive experience and want to come back each summer while still enrolled in school. The district then hopes to retain these students as full-time employees after they graduate.
“There is opportunity to be hired on full-time [after the program ends],” said Cady Ford, Kansas City District interior designer and summer student intern program coordinator. “We want to get [the student interns] knowledgeable about [USACE] … and give them a good experience because then they’ll come back and work with us full-time.”
The program is designed to expose the student interns to as much of the work that the district does through weekly educational lunch-and-learns and various site visits to projects across the district. Student interns will be paired with a mentor throughout the summer who will show them around and be available to answer questions or offer advice.
As the summer student intern program coordinator, Ford will also be available as a point of contact for the student interns, should they have questions or concerns. Ford knows a thing or two about being a student intern, having been one herself in 2018. Ford graduated from the University of Central Missouri and was hired full-time with the Kansas City District after her summer as a student intern. Her experience helped her decide the path she wanted to take after graduation. She hopes that the new district-wide program will do the same for others.
“I really enjoyed being a summer intern and going through that program,” said Ford. “I think it helped solidify that this is where I wanted to work.”
Navigating the world after graduating college can be scary for some young adults. According to Brown, who works with students and recent graduates preparing to enter the workforce, the idea of becoming a professional employee can be intimidating. The Kansas City District’s program hopes to show students that, while the district is hard-working with important missions that span the nation, the district employees are just like them: people that work hard and enjoy having fun. The district hopes to humanize its employees by giving the student interns the opportunity to socialize outside of work at various events throughout the summer.
“A healthy note of what I see in [the Kansas City District] is we’re not too busy to just take a breath and laugh at ourselves a bit … especially with the workload we have,” said Brown. “I’m hoping the [summer student] intern program echoes that.”
The Kansas City District’s Summer Student Intern Program will run from May to August. Available summer internships for students can be found at Careers and Employment with the Kansas City District (army.mil).