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Why internships are valuable for high school students: my experience at the Skanska training program.

In the United States 62.1% of people have professions unrelated to their field of study and only 27.3% work in the field they majored in. I always wanted to pursue a career in business, however I never actually visited an office or participated in business meetings or projects. That is why I used the opportunity given by the school and, along with students from DP 1 and DP 2, I attended a 2 week long internship at Skanska, one of the biggest construction and development companies worldwide.

What have I learned and what have I found surprising?

Despite the fact that I knew I wanted to study a course related to business and management, I never knew what work in a company or organization actually looks like. Firstly I learned how meetings with brokers look like and that instead of clients negotiating with Skanska directly, brokers have that job. It was exceptionally surprising that factors that seemed trivial, like the number of parking spots, played an extremely crucial role for potential tenants. I also had an inside look into how businesses function and how the social culture and ethics have regained their importance in business nowadays. This helped me realize that I would want to work in a company where everyone is welcome and treated with kindness as well as respect.

What was the purpose of this internship and what did we do?

Truth be told, school teaches students theoretical knowledge, which is useful as a good foundation, however practical experience and observing how businesses function from within is even more valuable while choosing ones field of study. That is why it is crucial to attain real life experience in the profession you dream of pursuing and see what are the daily tasks of people with such jobs. Thanks to Skanska we were able to do just that- people from different sectors of the company showed us what they do on a daily bases not only with the use of presentations but also by bringing us along on their business meetings, consultations with brokers and more. Every student has unique interests and dream careers therefore mentors were assigned for each group of people, with similar study fields.

Because I am interested in real estate, business and sales, Tomek was my mentor, who is a leasing manager at Skanska. By bringing us along on meetings with international companies famous on the real estate market, that are potential buyers of the buildings Skanska constructed, we were able to find out what this process of negotiation actually looks like.

This definitely helped me determine that I would like to work in a similar company or field and have such a job.

Mentors were assigned to students with different passions as well- those interested in engineering and construction worked with Mateusz and those who enjoy social work had lessons with Justyna. I found this division extremely useful as I was able to dive deeper into the areas I found useful and fascinating instead of spending time on fields I am not going to study in the future, which made this internship particularly useful for me.

Was it worth sacrificing my last 2 weeks of vacation to attend the internship?

I believe that the internship did not interfere with my summer plans as I had plenty of time after the time in the office. Furthermore, I did not feel drained after as everyday we did something new, met fascinating people and built connections with them as well as visited exciting places such as business buildings like „The Hub” or construction sites.

Because acquiring knowledge was so enjoyable, as we were getting an inside look at how the company functions in a practical manner, summer still felt like vacation for me without the unnecessary pressure.

What do I advice you to look for while choosing an internship for yourself?

Firstly make sure that the internship is practical, meaning that you have to complete tasks or attend meetings instead of only listening to presentations and lectures. Secondly choose internships in companies from interesting fields you might not have considered yet as maybe you had the wrong idea of how working there might be like.

How did this internship help me in creating a dream path for myself?

Thanks to this internship I realized that working in an ethical company, in a field I am particularly interested in, is the path for me. Before getting the work experience I thought I wanted to work in marketing, however after the internship I realized that I want to lean into a slightly different path. I was always particularly interested in interior design therefore a dive into real estate gave me important insight that will definitely be useful for my future study path.

I hope that this article, written from a perspective of a student, will help other students that are choosing internships in picking the one compatible with their individual goals or plans and which will benefit them the most.

Weronika Krężołek

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