Internship Reimbursement Program helps Stutsman County employers
The program contributes up to $3,500 to reimburse employers that hire university/college students to assist in the payroll costs.
JAMESTOWN – The Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. receiving a state award during the 2022 Main Street ND Summit is great recognition for those who worked to make the Internship Reimbursement Program successful, according to Corry Shevlin, vice president of business development for the JSDC.
“A hats off to our staff here at the JSDC, our board of directors, the city and county for identifying some of the things that are ongoing for our business community and helping and promoting a program that we think has been very helpful,” Shevlin said.
The JSDC received the 21st Century Workforce Award — one of eight 2022 Governor’s Main Street Awards — in October during the Main Street ND Summit. The Governor’s Main Street Awards are a collaborative effort of the governor’s office and the North Dakota Department of Commerce. A selection committee made up of collaborating agencies and partners evaluates entries to determine final awards.
The Internship Reimbursement Program is designed to increase the number of local internships and assist employers in Stutsman County in workforce recruitment and retention, according to JSDC’s website. The program contributes up to $3,500 to reimburse employers that hire university/college students to assist in the payroll costs. The program is open to employers in Stutsman County and interns must be paid at least $15 per hour.
JSDC allocates $105,000 each year for the program that launched in 2021.
The JSDC’s Internship Reimbursement Program received the 21st Century Workforce Award for the innovation and forward thinking in addressing its community’s workforce shortage, according to a press release from the state Department of Commerce.
Sixteen interns from eight colleges or universities participated in the program with area businesses in 2021. Participating employers included Advantage Electric, BluFrog Realty, Cavendish Farms, Collins Aerospace, Dalsted & Ryan P.C., Farmers Union Insurance, First Community Credit Union, RE/MAX Now and Stutsman Harley-Davidson.
There are three funding rounds – one for summer interns, another for the fall semester and one for the spring semester – for the Internship Reimbursement Program.
“We’ve seen a number of those interns stay in our community, which is fantastic,” Shevlin said. “The overall goal of what we want to see for that program is either college-age students staying or moving to our community.”
The program doesn’t exclude students from technical colleges, he said.
He said the JSDC is strict on the internships that are funded. He said applications are received that are clearly for part-time help, which is not what the JSDC is looking to fund.
“A lot of the discussion happens when we are looking at applications on whether it’s a part-time job – it’s just summer help or whatever versus what is actually a legitimate internship that’s going to lead to full-time employment and things of that nature,” he said.
Shevlin said the JSDC looked at a number of different programs from all over the country to see what has worked, what has not worked and what would be the best for the community. He said the JSDC Board of Directors at that time had 15 members who represent many different industries in the Jamestown area.
“There is a lot of valuable information on how they take interns on, what they are looking for in internships,” he said.
He said a couple of conversations were held with University of Jamestown officials on how the university’s internship applications look and what students may be able to provide to employers.
“We wanted to make sure that it wasn’t going to be a burden on the student or the employer,” he said. “From an application perspective, we understand that when applications get too lengthy and cumbersome, it’s almost not worth the hassle to fill out the paperwork, so we try and walk that line of still being able to get the information that we see pertinent to be able to fund a program like this but also keep it on the lighter side so it’s not seen as cumbersome for employers or anyone working with it.”
JSDC staff and board members will see what improvements, if any, can be made to the program on a yearly basis, Shevlin said. He said the results of the program will be assessed and changes will be made if they are needed.
He said JSDC is always looking at programs that may help address the workforce shortage issue and that are helpful to the community.
“But the tricky part is we want our employers to help solve the problem themselves,” he said, referring to addressing the workforce challenges. “We want it to be freestanding and encourage them to find solutions themselves. I think there are ways we can participate in doing so but finding that balance is where we've been looking.”