(Intern Elizabeth Larsen and Principal Engineer Lee Petersen)

The Itasca Consulting Group, a software and engineering firm, and Elizabeth Larsen, a civil and environmental engineering major from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, have a lot in common. To start, they both have international experience, having worked on engineering projects around the world.

A university-based program similar to Engineers Without Borders brought Larsen to Tanzania in 2017 where she helped develop a biogas latrine system. While studying abroad in Finland, she designed a floating solar panel park.

When the time came to find a summer internship, Larsen continued to look for newer, different opportunities within her field. “Coming to work at Itasca was a way to learn about what more is out there,” she said. “I really enjoyed getting to work on so many different projects because I got a pretty wide breadth of things to look at and experience. That was really important for me.”

Determined to help meet her experience goals, Larsen’s Itasca projects covered a lot of ground, ranging from a highway project in Duluth to a building project in San Francisco. When Itasca put together a team to apply for a government contract, Larsen played a big role in getting their application submitted.

“We quickly learned that we could give Elizabeth a lot of responsibility,” confirmed Lee Petersen, a Principal Engineer at Itasca. Larsen agreed, and took the responsibility she was given to heart.

Submitting their proposal was a very memorable experience, she said, as was the relief she felt once they were done.

When Itasca then brought their work to the local DFI conference (Deep Foundations Institute), Larsen was also in attendance to see their software presented. “It was cool to see how well our software worked and how well it was explained by our engineer,” she said. “It was a really proud moment, because we really kicked butt.”

Building a connection
“We’re always looking for future employees and we can never seem to get everything done,” said Petersen. “It’s finding the right intern that’s the challenge.”

For small Minnesota companies like Itasca, using the SciTechsperience Internship Program to find that much-needed talent makes the hiring process a lot easier. With exclusive access to the SciTech job board, small employers can share their job postings with a diverse talent pool of some of the state’s top STEM students. SciTech then reimburses them for 50 percent of the intern’s wages, up to $2,500 per student hired.    

For students like Larsen, who are going to school out of state, the program acts a connection to home, helping them find work in Minnesota that they might otherwise miss. 

“I love Minnesota,” Larsen said, “and it’s a cool thing to be able to work here and see all the opportunities to work here. I really think this is a cool program.”

Get involved
At least 200 internship wage matches are available to small employers on a first come, first hire basis. Get started today at SciTechMN.org.

Are you a returning SciTech student? Send your current transcript to SciTechMN@mhta.org to reactivate your account. Fall internships are available now.

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