Frequently Asked Questions

What is Operation Intern?

Operation Intern, administered by the North Dakota Department of Commerce, is designed to expand the number of 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. Priority is also being given to new startups, companies who have never used the program, and new internship and apprenticeship positions.

North Dakota businesses looking for interns can receive up to $3,000 in matching funds by tapping an underused pool of candidates: students. The program offers private businesses up to $30,000 every two years (July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2019) to fund internships in their company. Funding rounds will be done this year with each company limited to a maximum of 5 interns per funding round.

Does my company qualify for Operation Intern?

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

To determine if your company falls under one of these industries, we encourage you to complete the Employer Application and be as thorough as possible when filling out the form.

If you believe your company does not fall under one of these targeted industries, it does not mean you cannot get funding. Operation Intern has set aside some funds for non-targeted industries; however we look for these positions to be in high-demand, high-wage, or advanced skills careers.

Currently Operation Intern does not fund local or state internships, or internships in the non-profit sector; however, some exceptions are being accepted.

What if I wanted to hire a student from a school outside of North Dakota?

Operation Intern requires that the students must be attending a North Dakota school.

Commerce may, on a case-by-case basis, approve the subsidization of a student enrolled in a college or university located outside of the state. Reasons for approving an out-of-state student may include the course-of-study not being provided by a North Dakota college or university or a North Dakota high-school graduate that is attending an out-of-state school. Employers interested in hiring an out-of-state student shall contact the Operation Intern coordinator prior to submitting the student application to ensure the student qualifies for the program. These instances will be reviewed on a case by case basis. The majority of a company’s interns cannot be attending an out of state college or university even if they meet the above listed two exclusions.

An employer can select the intern of their choice but they should be aware they might not qualify for the program.

The company must maintain record of this process in case they are audited. About 10% of participating businesses are reviewed annually for fiscal and student verification. If a business is selected, documentation of expenses and verification of student enrollment must be provided.

What if I don’t use up all of my funds?

If you don’t use up all of your funds with the initial interns, you can backfill new interns in to those positions. You can also notify the Youth Office/ Operation Intern Coordinator that you do not plan to use the funding and they can be issued to another company. Funding not used in the first funding round will be carried over to the second funding round.

Does a student qualify if he/she graduated in May and wants to intern in the summer?

Yes, if a student graduated in May and wants to intern throughout the summer, he/she does qualify for Operation Intern. However if he/she graduated in May and wanted to intern during the fall semester, he/she no longer qualifies for Operation Intern funding.

What If we hire the student full time upon graduation?

Please notify the Youth Office/ Operation Intern Coordinator upon the acceptance of the position. Operation Intern tracks success stories and uses these as a resource for the legislature.

How often do I need to submit a “Request for Funds”?

You can submit Request for Funds monthly, quarterly, or once. Most companies will wait to request funds until they have used up all of their funds so they only need to do it once. Other companies will submit on a monthly basis.

Do I need to submit a Learning Agreement to the Operation Intern program manager?

No, you do not need to submit a copy to the program administrator. This Learning Agreement is not required, only encouraged for internships that are not being used for academic credit.

What if I am accepted to the program and do not hire any interns?

Eight months from the date of the initial Letter of Agreement, the Operation Intern program administrator may contact you regarding closing your account and reverting the money to another company. Upon discussion with the program administrator, if you intend to spend the money in the near future, that can be discussed. If you know before the eight month mark that you are not going to use the funds, feel free to contact the program administrator directly to close the account.

Where can I post my internship opening?

We encourage you to post your internship opening on,, your company website, and your local college or universities career services website.