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UND, Economic Development Corp. launch internship program

Aspiring interns take note—a new UND-led program could open some doors for you.

The university is providing $35,000 in seed funding to cover some of the costs of hiring interns through a joint initiative launched Thursday with the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp. The program, named InternGF and spearheaded by the UND Center for Innovation, will focus specifically on pairing student interns with businesses in the startup and new technology sectors, said EDC President Keith Lund.

Lund spoke briefly about the program at a Thursday evening business event hosted at the campus Center for Innovation building and sponsored by the Grand Forks area Chamber. He said the ultimate goal of the program, which could place between 15 and 20 interns per year, is to retain UND students in the area after graduation. The funding from UND will be paid out to cover half the payroll expenses of each student intern up to $3,500.

Lund said the hope in providing those funds is to encourage participation among newer companies that might not otherwise be able to afford to hire interns on their own.

While the Center for Innovation has always had a focus on getting students into internships, Lund said the new initiative would get a boost from the EDC's connections to the wider business community.

In his Thursday remarks, Lund referenced a common line used by UND President Mark Kennedy—that UND is the "chief opportunity engine" for North Dakota—in a more local application to dub the university "our region's No. 1 talent attraction magnet."

Though no employers are yet confirmed for the program, Lund said he's in talks with a few potentials to officially launch the hiring process for students who are "not necessarily in entrepreneur programs, but who are innovative."

Kennedy also spoke at the Thursday event and said the expanded focus on internships is in sync with a major item of the campuswide strategic plan dedicated to promoting "experiential learning." He also highlighted the program's intent to keep UND talent in the area economy.

If all goes as planned, Kennedy said InternGF should help "keep the University of North Dakota on the forefront of innovation and keep us hyperconnected with Grand Forks."

"We do have a few who come to our campus who aren't from here," he said. "We'd as soon hope that they stay here and we'd continue to have our best and brightest."

Andrew Haffner

Andrew Haffner covers higher education and general assignment stories for the Grand Forks Herald. He attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he studied journalism, political science and international studies. He previously worked at the Dickinson Press.

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