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DSU streamlines internship search with Hawks for Hire

Dulguun Erdenesoyol, student at DSU, interned at Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation in both 2017 and 2018. (Submitted photo)

About two weeks ago, Dickinson State University replaced an old program designed to help connect its students to internship opportunities with a new, user-friendly version.

"We're just looking for a more simple process," said Ashley Tillman, career development and disability services specialist for Dickinson State University.

The new program, Hawks for Hire, replaces Hawks4Hire, and although the name is essentially the same, not much else is. Under the old program, DSU's website had a link to an external site where students had to set up a profile and employers could post jobs there. Tillman compared it to LinkedIn. Both students and employers had to create an account.

Not a lot of students used the program, said Tillman.

"I think, especially with college-age students, they want instant gratification," she said. "Filling out a new profile and doing all that stuff is not necessarily user-friendly. It's just an extra step where they could just go to Google and type in whatever they want."

On her end, she would have to go into the system and approve the jobs before they registered on the student's page.

"It was as equally non-user-friendly for me as it would be for students," Tillman said. "It was a lot of work (on) both ends."

That work wasn't very fruitful.

"A lot of jobs that were on there were very random, across the United States, which isn't a bad thing," she said. "However, if students want to find local, find North Dakota, find maybe outskirts of North Dakota, that wasn't really a reliable source. I would say some were legitimate, but I would say a lot were just junk."

The new Hawks For Hire is directly on DSU's website. Marie Moe, executive director of communications and public affairs for DSU, likens it to a "hub of information." It provides links to on-campus job listings and job sites such as Indeed, but it offers something else, too.

Students looking for internships and employers looking for interns will be able to complete a short form. That information will be emailed to Tillman, who will act as a matchmaker of sorts, reviewing the needs on both sides and presenting students with a list of matches from which to choose.

"It just removes the barriers," Moe said. "It provides a clear pathway of access for employers to connect with students for jobs and internship opportunities."

They had been thinking about changing the process for a while, Moe said. She went to a Vision West North Dakota meeting this summer. Vision West ND is a project that works with community leaders to create economic sustainability in the region. She asked regional employers what they need from the school. One of the things they said was an easier way to request interns.

The group will be on campus again in November.

"I'm really excited to go back to this group of people and say you asked for this, here it is, based on your feedback, because that's what we want to do," she said. " We want to be responsive to what our community is sharing with us and then help them get connected to our students."

Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation provides around 15-20 internships each summer and often takes interns from DSU. Alexandra Simonieg, human resources manager of the foundation, said it didn't seem like a lot of students used the old program. The foundation uses a variety of recruitment methods, but she thinks this will be useful addition.