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InternGF program looks to offer job experience to UND students

Tom Ford (far left) listens on Gracie Lian talks about her experiences as an intern for Grand Forks County. (Adam Kurtz/ Grand Forks Herald)
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InternGF, a joint collaboration between UND and the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporation held a meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 5, to highlight the opportunities for students and businesses to take part in the internship program -- with funding opportunities for companies to get involved.

Now in its third year, 24 internships have been funded, some of which have led to full-time job opportunities for the students involved. InternGF, held at UND’s Center for Innovation, aims to provide funding to early and mid-stage startups and EDC member companies to help offset the cost of hiring interns. The dual purpose of the program is to provide students with valuable work experience and provide companies the opportunity to get involved and expose students to a career and professional experience. The application period opened Tuesday.

Companies can receive up to $3,500 in funding to cover the cost of the internship, which generally lasts about an academic semester. Startups may receive up to 50% of the cost the intern’s pay, with EDC member companies eligible for 33%.

“In the spring, when I saw the opportunity for an internship to work with the county government, I was super interested,” said Gracie Lian, UND junior and student body president. Lian was on hand on Tuesday to share her experiences going through the InternGF program.

“In the end, I know that the work that I did is actually going to have an impact, which is what I think is one of the really important things about the program, InternGF, is it’s not one of the types of programs … where you are sitting and getting coffee for your boss, instead, your boss takes you to coffee.”


Lian’s internship focused on her helping to identify capital improvements the county needs to make, and present that information to county commissioners.

Tom Ford, Government Relations Administrator for Grand Forks County, and Lian’s boss during her internship, took the time to reflect on his experience with the program.

“I think interns, for us established professionals, bring a fresh perspective on how we think about how we do things, how we can do things. We think we’ve got it all figured out and these incredibly talented, bright college students, they come to the office every day and they go ‘What about this, what about that?’”

Ford elaborated on why he believes in internships so passionately, and how they can be a way to keep young people in the community after they graduate.

“We have such a talent pool in Grand Forks, and that talent pool of students, K through 12 and college, we invest in them, we grow them, we prepare them and then they go somewhere else,” he said. “What a wasted resource, and, by that, I mean we let them get away.”

For a business to qualify for the InternGF program, the salary must be a minimum of $10 per hour and must be a meaningful learning experience with professional responsibilities. Students are able to earn academic credit for their internship and may receive a grade. Students are assigned an internship coordinator when going through the program.

“Apply early … this is wildly popular,” said Amy Whitney, director of the Center for Innovation. “Even if you aren’t thinking you would want to fill an internship position until fall of 2020, still apply early and apply now.”

For more information and to download an application to participate in the InternGF program, visit grandforks.org.


Adam Kurtz is the community editor for the Grand Forks Herald. He covers higher education and other topics in Grand Forks County and the city.

Kurtz joined the Herald in July 2019. He covered business and county government topics before covering higher education and some military topics.

Tips and story ideas are welcome. Get in touch with him at akurtz@gfherald.com, or DM at @ByAdamKurtz.

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