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Internship program provides opportunities

FAIRMONT — The Minnesota Valley Action Council/Martin County Summer Youth Internship Program is underway for 2021. Recently several of the 15 students currently involved in the program were able to express their gratitude to the Martin County Commissioners for helping to fund the program. Coordinator Tammie Hested was able to share some background information on the program.

“The program was established in 2012 when former commissioners Steve Pierce and I think Jack Potter attended a statewide conference on summer unemployment programs,” she said. “They came back with the idea to bring college students that grew up here back to the area in hopes of enticing them to return after college graduation.

“So they put in the budget $50,000 to pay for wages and work comp insurance for those interns to intern at different businesses in their career field. So they reached out to the Workforce Center at the time, now the CareerForce, and asked how they could get that done.

“The officer manager turned it over to MVAC and we handle the employment youth program here at CareerForce, so it just made sense since it was youth-related.”

Hested has been fulfilling her role for the past four years, matching up applications of interns with businesses in their career field. The students then work a total of 240 hours over the course of the summer at that business at $11.50 an hour. MVAC does the payroll and covers the insurance, so there is no cost to the business.

“They basically get free help for the summer,” Hested said. “Then the hope is that the students would get to know the business and do some networking with the idea that someday they may look to come back to the area. It may not be in that business but at least they’ll have a connection here and someone they can use as a reference for their future job.”

The process involves students reaching out to Hested, who notes that there’s not much in the way of advertising for the program. Rather it is based on word-of-mouth.

“They need to be between the ages of 18 and 25, and they fill out a brief application. Their family needs to be a resident of Martin County, they need to be eligible to work in the United States, they need to be enrolled in a two to a four-year college, and then they need to be in good academic standing.”

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