About Operation Intern

Operation Intern, administered by the North Dakota Department of Commerce, is designed to expand the number of new internship, work experience and apprenticeship positions with North Dakota employers.

The program’s primary focus is employers in the state’s targeted industries: Energy, Advanced Manufacturing, Value-added Agriculture, Tourism and Technology-based Businesses.

North Dakota businesses looking for interns can receive up to $3,000 in matching funds by tapping an underused pool of candidates: college students. The program offers private businesses up to $30,000 every two years to fund internships in their company.

“Involving interns in North Dakota businesses addresses two very important challenges in our state,” Commerce Commissioner Al Anderson said. “First, it provides businesses with another great source of employees in what is a very tight labor market. Second, it builds connections between our young people and North Dakota employers. We hope these connections will ultimately result in more young talent pursuing careers in North Dakota after college.”

“Operation Intern is a wonderful opportunity for businesses and students to develop relationships while helping to retain young people in our state,” Anderson said. “Students will benefit through exposure and hands-on experience while businesses will benefit by demonstrating the potential of career opportunities with their company.”

Program History

Governor John Hoeven and the 2007 Legislature recognized the importance of expanding internship and work experience opportunities, thus appropriated $600,000 to the Department of Commerce for the Operation Intern program.

By spring of 2009, the program matched 211 students with 83 North Dakota businesses.

In the 2009-11 biennium, the Operation Intern program received $900,000 and expanded to high school juniors and seniors and registered apprenticeships. The program was designed to expand the number of new internship, work experience and apprenticeship positions with employers. Employers in the state’s targeted industries could access up to $6,000 of matching funds for each new position created, or up to $5,000 for a federal internship position supporting North Dakota’s targeted industries. At the end of the 09-11 biennium, 21 of the interns were hired on as full-time employees.

In the 2011-13 biennium, Operation Intern has reached 400 students in over 200 companies. Governor Dalrymple and the ND Legislature awarded the Operation Intern program $900,000 of funding. Employers can access up to $6,000 of matching funds for each student. Internships no longer need to be new and the maximum amount of matching funds an employer can receive per biennium (July 1, 2011 – June 30, 2013) is $30,000.

In the 2013-15 biennium, Operation Intern is growing and the main focus is the Governors five targeted industries to recruit interns from North Dakota Schools. The objective of Operation Intern is to involve students in North Dakota business and to encourage them to make a career in North Dakota when their schooling is complete. Governor Dalrymple and the ND Legislature awarded the Operation Intern program $1,500,000 of funding. Employers are awarded $3,000 matching funds on a reimbursement for each internship approved. The max amount a business can receive is $30,000 per biennium (July 1, 2013-June 30,2015).

The 2015-2017 biennium, Operation Intern will continue as a program to help North Dakota businesses. Governor Dalrymple and the ND Legislature awarded the program $1,500,000 of funding. No other major changes were made to the program except to open it up to healthcare facilities which offer paid internships.