Day with FM Professional Pic 

Bring “A Day with a Facilities Professional” to your home market

The following feature was contributed by IFMA Foundation Trustee Bob Dills, CFM, SFP, LEED AP

Beyond IFMA and the IFMA Foundation, many other fine associations support making FM a career of choice. One outstanding example is the Association for Facility Engineering (AFE).

For more than five decades, IFMA and AFE chapters in Northern California have been co-hosting the wildly successful Day with a Facilities Professional (DWFP) program. It’s a wonderful opportunity to contribute to the foundation’s Global Workforce Initiative (GWI), connect with college students, and raise (modest) funds to share between your chapter and the foundation.

Hundreds of internships and careers have launched from DWFP events held in Northern California since this program began in 1963. If every North American chapter partnered with the foundation to host a DWFP in their area, imagine the legacy we could create!

How did it start?

The DWFP was created by Eric Bergtraun, one of the founders of the American Institute of Plant Engineers, which later became AFE. In his storied career, Eric led the real estate and facilities teams at the Fairchild Semiconductor and National Semiconductor companies.

Born in 1925 in Vienna, Austria, Eric immigrated to the U.S. in 1948, and became an apprentice in an electric motor shop in San Francisco. He held high regard for the path to middle-class life afforded those who pursue a craft, trade or profession related to the built environment.

Eric led the effort to establish the AFE student chapters at Cal-Poly SLO, San Jose State University and the California Maritime Academy; and ultimately, the DWFP to provide students with the opportunity to experience the vitality of FM.

How does it work?

A DWFP begins with lunch for students and their FM hosts at a local facility. Supporting chapters should seek facilities with in-house catering and meeting space to accommodate a few dozen people.

After lunch, one or more students accompany their hosts to the FM’s place of business for a shadowing program. Facility professionals have found this experience energizing, restoring appreciation for how interesting their work really is, especially through the eyes of future FMs. Most hosts schedule activities that illustrate a variety of responsibilities, along with facility tours and introductions to other teams.

In the evening, hosts and their student guests return to the original site for dinner. Our experience is that a buffet dinner and panel discussion with professionals at different career levels work extremely well.

How do we get started?

Contact foundation administrator Amy Arnold at or foundation trustee Bob Dills at — we’ll provide your chapter with a ready-made package, including:

§  Program budget and assistance with setting a price level for your event, including a host fee and recommended sponsorships. 

§  Communication templates to invite chapter members to host, and college faculty advisors and students to participate.

§  Guidance on identifying the colleges and specific departments to approach for participation. 

§  A thoroughly tested script for the planning and execution of the event. 

 Note that the ideal timing for a DWFP event is early spring when college juniors and seniors are beginning their search for summer internships or first career positions. This timing requires commitment from your chapter and the involved colleges in the winter of the previous year, and for planning committees to become active before the year end immediately preceding the event.

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