Building The Ideal Internship

Building The Ideal Internship

May 25, 2022

If you’re ready to invest your time in building a career, look no further. Ideal Homes & Neighborhoods offers students at the University of Oklahoma and other colleges and universities a rare opportunity to intern with one of the top homebuilders in the country.

Greg Rex, Ideal’s VP of Construction, knows firsthand how much an internship can mean to a student. He’s been with Ideal for 21 years and has trained a lot of new hires during that time. His interest in creating an Ideal internship stemmed from his own internship opportunity in college. “It was a really big deal for me,” he said. “I learned so much.”

After a couple of summers, Rex evolved the program from 3 interns to 12. In addition, he created a formal curriculum that the interns could follow. He shared his ideas with Ben Bigelow, the Construction Science (CS) director at OU. They discussed the value of various internship programs and Ben helped show how a self-driven internship really helps you see which candidates are self-starters.

Rex, who believes giving back to his church and his community drives him more than anything else, says the internship program he started is as much about building relationships as it is about building homes.

The first summer, Rex had three students who worked alongside him. Only one of them was actually from the construction science program. At the end of the summer, Ideal hired one of those interns, Graham Hornsby, who advanced faster than anyone in company history, climbing the ladder from intern, to assistant builder, to builder, and then to senior builder in a mere two years. “This guy was on fire and was so self-motivated. He showed us that self-training was really what we wanted our program to be about,” says Rex. Hornsby, along with some of his fellow internship grads, now run the program.

How it works: Ideal builders establish the parameters, provide the resources, and set goals and expectations for the interns they work with. However, it’s up to the intern to get as much out of the program as possible. Rex says the company is more interested in supporting the interns as they figure out what they want to do with their lives than about training future builders for the company.

A key component of the Ideal intern program that sets it apart is the Industry Leaders Training. Interns meet almost weekly with industry leaders, including Ideal’s trade partners and vendors, to get a fully rounded perspective on the construction industry. The subjects vary and presenters work hard to make the sessions lots of fun. 

Rex says this summer’s program is already full, but next year they will be looking for 12 people interested in a program that goes above and beyond the normal internship program. For more information, contact Graham Hornsby, GHornsby@ideal-homes.com.

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