Intern program earns honors

FAIRMONT – Martin County’s Youth Internship program recently was recognized at a statewide convention for county leaders.

The program, which completed its second year last summer, is aimed at getting college students from Martin County to gain employment in the area during summer break, and also get training in their area of study, to possibly earn college credit or launch a career in their home county.

“This year, we had four participants get full-time jobs out of it,” said Martin County Commissioner Steve Pierce.

The program’s initial run in 2012 focused on high school and college students, but for 2013 it was tweaked to focus more on college-age students.

“It was modeled after a program for at-risk youth,” Pierce said. “But then we skewered it to the college age.”

Of 20 college-age interns working in Martin County, at least four managed to land full-time jobs, with other businesses hoping to use or hire students in the future.

The program is a collaboration of Martin County, Minnesota Valley Action Council, South Central Workforce Council and Minnesota Work Force Center.

Eligible students completed online applications and submitted resumes, and were interviewed by a career counselor. From there, students were matched with local businesses, non-profits or government agencies that had intern opportunities available.

The businesses then interviewed potential interns. After orientation, interns were placed in businesses for eight weeks, with pay covered by the program.

The county has budgeted for the program for a third year, but Pierce hopes to see even more achievement.

“I’m still interested in something for the younger set,” he said. “But it takes time and money, and the jobs aren’t out there for youth like they used to be … We’re hoping there will be some more interest and some help.”