Nobles County's new internship program kicks off, matching local students with local businesses

“We need more applicants,” said Suree Sompamitwong, youth employment specialist with PIC.

Stock photo of employees by Mimi Thian on Unsplash.
Stock photo of employees by Mimi Thian on Unsplash.
Mimi Thian / Unsplash

WORTHINGTON — The new Nobles County Internship Program aims to address three challenges at once, helping local businesses find workers, local students find career-relevant jobs and local communities drive economic development.

“This is meant to help Nobles County as a whole,” said Bruce Heitkamp, Nobles County administrator.

The original idea for the program came from Don Linssen, an at-the-time commissioner with the Nobles County Board, who attended a meeting with some representatives of Martin County. Martin County had its own internship program, designed to match students with potential employers. Linssen liked the idea, and told Heitkamp he felt Martin County was onto something good.

Then, when Nobles County received $4.2 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act, Commissioner Justin Ahlers said the county ought to do something with the youth that could help solve the region’s workforce shortage.

Heitkamp reintroduced the Martin County internship program into the conversation, and eventually, the county partnered with the Southwest Minnesota Private Industry Council to launch its own program, using $106,000 in ARPA funds.


The concept is simple. Fifteen internships at local businesses will be available for college students from Nobles County, whether they’re traditional or nontraditional students. They can get paid up to $17 an hour, depending on the position, and work a maximum of 29 hours per week. Funds for their pay comes from the ARPA money, and interns are officially employed by the Southwest Minnesota Private Industry Council.

In order to join the program, businesses must fill out a simple, one-page application, and prospective interns must fill out a two-page application. Then, PIC works to match interns with a suitable Nobles County business.

Any funds remaining at the end of the summer will be returned to the county, with the hope of bringing the program back again next year if it is successful.

So far, eight people have applied to be interns and 10 businesses have applied to offer internship opportunities.

“We need more applicants,” said Suree Sompamitwong, youth employment specialist with PIC.

While PIC will try its best to make a good match between a student and a business’s needs, neither is guaranteed a match, cautioned Maria Peters, youth program manager for PIC.

Some students’ majors may simply offer more flexibility and options for an internship than others, Heitkamp said. For example, a business student may have more choices and opportunities than someone studying nuclear physics.

Part of the intent of the program is to allow employers to find new employees more easily, after the workforce shortage that intensified in early 2022.


“It’s a lot easier to retain the residents that are here than to bring in (new ones),” Peters said.

For more information, or to apply as either a business or an intern, visit , click on Services and select “Nobles County Summer Internship Program,” or email Peters at

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A 1999 graduate of Jackson County Central and a 2003 graduate of Augsburg College, Kari Lucin started writing for newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota in 2006. During her time as a reporter, she covered beats including education, watershed, county and agriculture, and frequently wrote about health and science. She has also served as an online content coordinator and an engagement specialist at various Forum Communications properties. She was a marketing assistant at Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville for two years, where she did design work in addition to writing and social media management.

Lucin is currently a community editor with the Globe of Worthington.

Phone: (507) 376-7319
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