Internships – an important element in workforce retention

When it comes to workforce recruitment and retention, interns can be an important piece in the puzzle. The region boasts a wide range of higher education institutions with more than 25,000 students. Those students who don’t go on to graduate school will be looking to start or continue a career.

Keeping students in the region and connecting them to job opportunities can be a challenge. But for students like Faith Anderson, an internship with Moorhead-based ByteSpeed has made the process much easier, even turning into a full-time job. Anderson’s internship also meant ByteSpeed was able to evaluate Anderson to ensure a good fit for the company and her.

“It takes time to get to know a new employee, and it is not always apparent right away what value employees might be able to offer to an organization,” said Anna Hanson, ByteSpeed Sales Director, “These type of internships allow companies like ours a chance to really understand a person’s skill set and fit within an organization so that they can move forward with confidence in the hiring process.”

For ByteSpeed, hiring an intern was easier thanks to support from the GFMEDC through unused grant money our organization had provided Concordia.

According to Hanson, they started receiving applications as soon as they posted it early 2021 for their spring internship.

“A few weeks after Faith started, we recognized that she had immense potential. She had picked things up very quickly and was working well with our reseller partnerships. We realized she would be a great fit for a full time role that we would be looking to fill,” said Hanson.

As in the ByteSpeed example, internships often allow a company to see a student’s potential.

“Research has shown us the value of paid internship opportunities. Students with paid internship experiences receive nearly 50 percent more job offers than peers who had either an unpaid internship or no internship at all. In addition, students who have had a paid internship begin looking for fulltime jobs earlier and are more likely to have accepted a full-time offer sooner,” said Kris Olson, Director, Concordia College Career Center. 

For Anderson, the internship made accepting a full-time position with ByteSpeed a lot easier.

“My time at ByteSpeed has been nothing but great so far. The individuals I have the opportunity to work with have eased my transition immensely and that is awesome as a new employee. Beginning as an intern and then being hired on as a Marketing Manager/Sales Development Representative at ByteSpeed is something I’m super grateful for and I look forward to growing and sharing my knowledge in such a welcoming environment.” Faith Anderson, ByteSpeed.  

Internships also help students gain or improve the skills critical to success in a workplace.

“During and after an internship, it is so rewarding to hear how students had the opportunity to improve their professionalism, teamwork, communication, critical-thinking and problem-solving skills; all competencies employers are seeking and directly related to skills that will make them ‘future ready’, ” said Olson. 

Despite all the benefits, companies face barriers to hiring interns. One of the barriers is finding the budget to cover intern salaries and expenses. Both Minnesota and North Dakota offer programs to support intern programs.

In North Dakota, Operation Intern provides up to $4,000 in matching funds for eligible positions. Their funding window will open again in February 2022. More info on Operation Intern.

For Ray Berry, resources like Operation Intern to support recruiting an intern are critical support.

“We offered an FTE position to our 2018/2019 operation intern,” said Ray Barry, President & CEO, Omnibyte Technology.

In Minnesota, SciTech supports STEM internships with a $1 to $1 wage match to cover 50% of the intern’s wages (up to $2,500).  More info on SciTechMN.

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