What You Need To Know About Operation Intern

Written by: Fargo Inc Staff

With applications now open for the North Dakota Department of Commerce’s Operation Intern program, here’s what we think you should know about the highly beneficial program that’s been helping North Dakota businesses hire interns more easily for nearly a decade.

What It Is

  • Operation Intern is a program administered by the North Dakota Department of Commerce designed to expand the number of new internship, work experience and apprenticeship positions with North Dakota employers.
  • The program has money set aside for targeted industries—energy, advanced manufacturing, value-added agriculture, tourism and technology-based businesses—as well funds set aside for high-wage, high-demand positions.
  • The program offers private businesses up to $30,000 every two years to fund internships at their company. Funding rounds will be done this year, with each company limited to a maximum of five interns per funding round.
  • The maximum amount of Operation Intern funds an employer can receive is $15,000 per funding round, or $30,000 per biennium.
  • This year, the program is introducing something new and has set money aside for new apprenticeship positions.

What Operation Intern Pays
Matching funds under the program are limited to a maximum of $3,000 per term, per internship/work experience/apprenticeship opportunity. Students may receive up to a maximum of $6,000 from the Operation Intern program, depending on funding.

What You Pay
Of the compensation, a one-to-one match or more to the student is required. Compensation may include wages and stipends, tuition and fees, books, housing assistance, or tools and equipment. Documentation of wages paid and/or other compensation provided must be maintained by the employer and made available upon request.

Who It’s For

The employer is responsible for selecting and hiring the new student. To qualify, the internship position must be related to the student’s program of study unless they are a high school student. Employers must select a student who is either:

  • A high school junior or senior
  • Enrolled in a North Dakota college or university and taking at least six credits during the internship or the semester prior to the internship
  • A student enrolled in a registered apprenticeship program

All internship, work experience, and apprenticeship experiences should provide opportunities for the student to develop patterns of professional behavior and skills, apply academic knowledge to work situations, and be related to the student’s field of study or career goals.

The program 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
  • North Dakota high school graduate who is attending an out-of-state school

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

It is recommended that the student be:

  • A U.S. citizen or have permanent legal immigration status
  • In a program of study at least two years in length
  • Have an overall GPA of at least 2.5

Priority is given to new startups, companies that haven’t participated in the program, and new internship or apprenticeship programs.

How to Apply

This biennium will have 2 funding rounds:

  • First round: May 29, 2017 – March 31, 2018
    – Applications accepted May 1 – May 19, 2017
    – Any funds not used in that timeframe will be released and added to funding for second round
  • Second round: May 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019
    – Applications accepted from March 26 – April 13, 2018

Companies may apply for maximum number of interns each round.

Targeted industries will be eligible for 60 percent of funding, high-wage, high-demand occupations eligible for 20 percent and new apprenticeship positions the final 20 percent.

Where to post your internship opening:

To participate in the Operation Intern program, fill out the application. You will be notified after the funding round closes as to whether you have been approved.

If you are approved, your organization will be mailed a letter of agreement. A signed copy of the letter of Agreement, a company W9 and a student application form need to be returned within two week’s of the intern’s start date.

All current and potential employers are encouraged to visit the Operation Intern website to learn about all changes to the program for 2017-19.

Any and all questions, issues and inquiries pertaining to Operation Intern can be directed to:


North Dakota Department of Commerce
[email protected]

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