Insights and Intuition: How do organizations connect to college students through internships, other ways?

The March Insights and Intuition question focuses on connecting to a typically younger demographic


Each month, Prairie Business Magazine speaks with regional leaders to learn more about a specific topic. For the March issue, the focus was reaching out to college students.

Check out the responses below:

How does your organization connect to college students through internship programs and other ways?

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Jenna Neugebauer

Jenna Neugebauer
Talent Acquisition Coordinator
City of Sioux Falls

The City of Sioux Falls has a focus on a service and a hospitality-based mindset. It’s always been my belief that good people get good things done, and this is especially true at the City. Sioux Falls is a place to grow, learn, and become the leader and professional that you aspire to be.

The City of Sioux Falls has 12 departments with over 1,300 full-time employees and hundreds more part-time and seasonal employees. Each of us work together; it takes a team to get good things done. With a teamwork mindset, the City of Sioux Falls embraces the OneTeam Sioux Falls framework, which focuses on the core values of safety, teamwork, innovation, character, and respect. These core values are drivers in success and build community from the inside out.


The Ascend Internship program gives unique opportunities to students in post-secondary institutions and graduate degrees. The Ascend Internship Program isn’t just about the work experience. Being our intern means that you’ll have a mentor and projects for you to spearhead. Throughout the summer, our interns meet weekly for networking, tours, and leadership-building activities. Ascend interns gain a holistic understanding of how the City works. The City of Sioux Falls connects with colleges and universities to connect with faculty and staff to share knowledge and insight into our professions. We’re hiring interns now! To learn more, connect with me at or by calling the City of Sioux Falls, Human Resources at 605-367-8740.

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Mark Maliskey

Mark Maliskey
Marketing & Communications Manager
Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporation

The Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporation partners with the University of North Dakota (UND) Center for Innovation to connect regional companies with college students by offering a program called InternGF. The program provides eligible regional companies with up to $3,500 in internship funding to connect with UND students. The program aims to aid in workforce pipeline programming and local recruitment and retention efforts by showcasing regional companies, career opportunities, and community assets to current students.

InternGF defines internships as experiences that provide employers the opportunity to guide and evaluate talent, and students the opportunity to gain hands-on, valuable experience in a field they are considering. The goal of a good internship is to provide students with professional experience, project and field-based experience, and the opportunity to build a professional network. To complement the learning and growth in the internship, intern program participants are required to connect weekly with a member of the UND Center for Innovation team. They help interns translate learned skills onto their resumes and help them think about how to maximize their internship experience.

InternGF applications are open to companies in three cycles that correlate with UND’s spring, summer, and fall semesters. To get started on the application process now, companies should develop a job description for a desired internship. Be sure to include the objectives of the job, key roles and responsibilities, and expectations. Companies are awarded preference points for unique internships, pathways to hiring, and first-time applicants. Applications for the summer 2023 semester open on March 1, 2023. Companies that are interested, and learn more and apply for the program by visiting

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Kristin McKenzie

Kristin McKenzie
Senior Director, IT
Digi-Key Electronics
Thief River Falls, Minn.


Digi-Key has a long history of hiring technical talent from regional universities. It’s been our most successful recruitment channel. We’re able to find bright minds with raw coding skills who have an open mindset. College students are accustomed to constantly learning and being thrown into new topics, so we find them very adaptable to our work environment and learning various technologies.

We’ve had an internship program for well over two decades where we embed computer science majors within teams and the interns perform the same development work as full-time employees. It’s a win-win arrangement. This gives students a true experience of what it’s like to work for Digi-Key, and meanwhile, we can assess their fit with our organization as a potential full-time hire.

It’s definitely a time commitment for our software engineers to mentor interns, however, team members often enjoy the energy and fresh perspective that college students bring on a day-to-day basis.

We’ve also hosted an annual Digi-Key Collegiate Computing Competition (DKC³ Collegiate Computing Competition | DigiKey) at our headquarters in Thief River Falls since 2000. This is a fun event where teams from over a dozen universities compete for both individual and department cash prizes, along with the honor of showcasing the DKC3 bronze traveling trophy at their school for the next year.

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Dustin Hillebrand

Dustin Hillebrand
Workforce Center Manager
Grand Forks, N.D.

College students are a very valuable addition to the workforce of North Dakota. Job Service North Dakota works with colleges across the state to help connect college students with employers. Employers can post their internships into our state job bank, and college students can search for them at no cost to either party.

Job Service holds in-person job fairs the public is invited to attend. Our business service staff posts our events in Handshake and works with the respective university Career Services departments to promote those fairs. We also hold statewide virtual job fairs which are promoted to North Dakota colleges and out of state colleges to share the available job openings throughout our state. Job Service Workforce Centers also support college career fairs on campuses across the state.


In Grand Forks, Job Service works with local partners to promote Career Conversations during the school year. These conversations are between college students and industry professionals where students learn about the different industries throughout the Grand Forks and Red River Valley region. This event has led to students being offered internships that lead to careers.

Individuals who are looking to start college, should inquire about the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act training program which can pay for up to three years of classroom training in a high-demand career. Anyone interested in this program should speak with their nearest Job Service Workforce Center to learn more. Additional information can be found at our website

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