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Bowman man interns for Sen. John Hoeven in Bismarck

Bismarck Intern Conner Swanson poses with his boss for the summer, Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., in this undated photo. Swanson is the youngest and only intern in the senator's Bismarck office. Hoeven is hosting one intern in his Fargo office and three in his Washington, D.C., office over the summer.

The first summer after college is full of tough choices. Stay in your college town or move back home? Who will you hang out with? Where will you work?

Conner Swanson of Bowman, who finished his freshman year at North Dakota State University in Fargo in May, has spent the summer in Bismarck as one of Republican Sen. John Hoeven's interns.

"I've always had an interest in what goes on in the Senate and with politics overall, and I thought that maybe interning here in Bismarck at his office would give me insight into how some of that works," Swanson said.

While Swanson said he doesn't have any political aspirations as of yet, he is majoring in political science with a minor in natural resource management.

"I don't really know what I'm doing with that yet," Swanson said. "It's still up in the air what I'm going to do."

Hoeven has three interns in his Washington, D.C., office and one each in his field offices in Bismarck and Fargo this summer.

"What our interns that are hired out in Washington do throughout the course of their internship is much different than what our interns in North Dakota do," said Don Larson, Hoeven's chief of staff. "Washington interns do a lot in our front office, giving tours, working with our constituent contacts out there and learning about the legislative process hands-on.

"Our North Dakota interns focus a lot more on the face-to-face constituent events and contacts that we have in North Dakota."

The Washington interns are Levi Bachmeier, West Fargo High School, Concordia College, Moorhead, Minn.; Peter Frei, Fargo, Oak Grove High School, Creighton University, Omaha, Neb.; Lauren Lyngstad, Fargo North High School, Southern Methodist University, Dallas. Roz Leighton, Minneapolis, NDSU, is interning in the senator's Fargo office.

Swanson is the only freshman of the group. All other interns will be returning to their prospective colleges for their senior year.

"I help out in the office a lot," Swanson said. "I help Eileen (Wehri, state office manager) with pretty much whatever she needs me to help with; I listen to her."

Swanson spends a lot of time communicating with constituents.

"One of the real talents Conner brings to the table is his excellent writing skills," Larson said. "We've used him a lot for things we've needed written along the way."

Even though he's the only intern in Bismarck, Swanson hasn't been all work and no play.

"I do have some friends here in Bismarck," Swanson said. "I'm not bored when I'm not at work. I always find something to do."

Bowman and Bismarck have a big population difference, with the state's capitol clocking in at 61,272 and the tiny town in the state's southwest corner hosting 1,650 inhabitants in the last census.

"I used to work at the nursing home in Bowman in the kitchen," Swanson said. "It's way different work than working in a kitchen."

The internship started May 20 and goes through Aug. 16.

"By the time they leave, we don't want them to go because we depend on them a lot," Wehri said. "I think that's a good sign for both of us. They are a very important part of our operation."

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
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