Area businesses are receiving a helping hand this summer, while students are getting a taste of the real world.
From managing a store to conducting tests at state parks, students are involved in various internships in the lakes area. Most interns work five days a week, earning college credit and getting paid. Interns' salaries range from minimum wage to $12 an hour.
"Students really need hands-on experience," said Vicky Knickerbocker, Central Lakes College instructor. "An internship gives them a stomping ground to determine if this (career) is what they really want to do.
"It also helps them network with people in the field and builds a foundation for them."
LeAnne Schoenle, CLC adviser for the dental assistant program, also believes in internships. She said they further students' knowledge and help students find out for themselves whether they're pursuing their desired career.
"An internship is the key to the puzzle," she said.
Employers are pushing for internships. They not only want to see a prospective employee with an education, but with the experience as well, said Pat Swarthout, CLC business instructor.
The DNR has several interns in the area. Don Rotter, who will graduate from Minnesota State University at Mankato this summer, is an intern in the exotic species program. He has majors in environmental science and ecology.
Rotter assists with field work and mainly conducts surveys and tests of Eurasian water milfoil and works with purple loosestrife.
"I learned a lot," said Rotter. "Now that I am involved, it is not as simple as it seems. There are many variables involved and it is more than just a DNR job, it is also a public duty."
He has learned how to identify a large array of aquatic plants and how important it is to keep thorough and straightforward field notes.
Rotter said after experiencing the work he went to school for, he is still interested in the field.
Mark Baker is an intern in the DNR engineering office. He has one more semester at the University of North Dakota and is majoring in civil engineering. During his internship, Baker has inspected a lot of parks, boat landings, drain fields and picnic shelters.
Baker said his mathematics and surveying classes have helped him on the job. He is learning how to read spec books and seeing the general process of the work.
Baker would eventually like to specialize in water treatment or drainage systems. He is originally from Barnesville and stays at his parents' cabin in Nisswa.
Crow Wing County has interns in the planning and zoning and sheriff's offices. Victor Sofie and Michele Baptiste, both of the Brainerd area, attend Central Lakes College and are interns in the sheriff's department. So far, they have worked with the Boat and Water Safety Unit.
Neal Gaalswyk, Boat and Water Safety supervisor, said the department only takes interns who are in the final stages of their schooling. The interns have learned a lot about water safety and what boaters need to have, such as life jackets, to be properly protected. They also saw how deputies handle people who violate state laws.
Sofie learned how deputies know whether a person is lying to them by the way he or she acts. Sofie hopes to get a job with the State Patrol to work with traffic violations.
Baptiste is pursuing a career in law enforcement because she wants to make society a better place to live and to ensure safety for her children. In the long run, she hopes to work as an investigator.
Carl Jacobi and Eric Halbur have internships with the planning and zoning office and are working on locating private water wells. They also interned for the county last summer to work on this project.
Both interns say they have learned more about Global Presentation System and ArcView, two computer systems, they use to compile the data they find.
Jacobi is a senior at the University of Minnesota at Duluth and is majoring in electrical and computer engineering.
Halbur recently graduated from the University of Minnesota at Crookston with a major in human resources and horticulture. His goal is to be in wildlife management.
A management internship at Walgreens in Brainerd is one step for Luke Weiland. Weiland is in his fourth year at the University of North Dakota for business management. His goal is to continue his education and earn a degree in business law.
"This should be a real valuable internship," he said. "I enjoy it a lot. Everyone is very friendly."
One of Weiland's teachers suggested he intern at Walgreens because of the company's internship program. All the stores in the corporation recruit interns to help find new employees.
Duties Weiland performs include opening and closing the store, ordering supplies, talking with representatives and working with the money. Weiland has learned how to deal with people while on the job. He said what he learned in his human resources and production courses at school, plus the internship, mesh together well.
Brad Folkestad is a public relations intern at Russell and Herder Advertising/Public Relations and is a senior at Bemidji State University. His duties are to make media and client contacts, write news releases and work on the company's newsletter.
Folkestad said the field still interests him. He learned where his skills would be best fitted. What he thought were his strong skills weren't, he said. He likes contacting people and meeting with them.
Folkestad would someday like to work in a communications department for a major sports team.
"I would help work with the media to set up interviews," he said.
Folkestad is living with his grandparents in Brainerd.
"Bemidji State University encourages internships," said Folkestad. "It allows me to see how a business runs and if I didn't do this I wouldn't know how these things work."
Folkestad's supervisor is Geoff Gorvin, public relations manager.
"Our philosophy on internships is not for us to have cheap labor," Gorvin said. "We view it as an important educational opportunity for them get better equipped for the real world."
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.