Survey Technician Emmaline Stafki (left) and Intern Jackie Schmidt (right).

“Our job as land surveyors is to walk in the footsteps of those who came before us,” said Scott Marlin. Marlin is the owner of Community Land Solutions, a land surveying company based in Sauk Rapids, Minnesota. Driven to help the next generation of surveyors take their first steps within the industry, this spring Marlin decided to host an internship and hired Land Surveying/Civil Engineering Technology student Jackie Schmidt for the job.

“Students need these experiences,” he said. “It’s one thing to go through the motions in school. You’ll learn enough to be dangerous but you’re never really sure why you’re doing what you’re doing. So, it’s important for our future and our industry to bring on interns, educate them and participate actively in their education.”

Founded in 2019, Community Land Solutions is still a young company and as such Marlin needs to be wise about his financial decisions. To ensure he could still offer this important opportunity, he hired Schmidt through the SciTech Internship Program. With SciTech, the financial strain of bringing on new talent is cut in half, thanks to the 50 percent wage reimbursement that the program offers to small Minnesota companies and employers (up to $2,500 per student hired).

Hiring employees can be expensive, Marlin said. “Being able to get a little help with our internships is super vital and valuable to our company in getting started. It will be important to our company moving forward as well.”

A lot of ground to cover
Before starting Community Land Solutions, Marlin spent 25 years in local government. His most recent experience as the Stearns County Surveyor inspired him to apply his public service experience to the private sector.

In addition to residential and commercial land surveying, Community Land Solutions oversees land surveying services for Morrison County. Marlin and his team assist the county with land management, land records and the establishment of section corners for the area.

This spring and summer, Marlin said, they have more work than they can handle, so having Schmidt’s assistance helps considerably.

One task at a time
Schmidt started her internship by learning some of the basics in the office first, working on drafting projects and helping with documentation.

“Jackie is able to make an immediate impact in the office, but we also have her out in the field,” Marlin said. “At first it was just observing the process, but now we’re giving her tasks of her own.”

 Thus far, Schmidt has helped identify and excavate corner markers and assisted with residential projects where she learned the safety procedures when moving around a property and how to dig without disrupting buried utilities. Now that she’s getting into it, Schmidt said, there’s a lot that she’s eager to try. “I’m excited to do more field work this summer. A couple of weeks ago I learned how to use a jackhammer. That was really interesting.”

In her first couple of months on the job, Schmidt has already made great progress, picking up new tasks and responsibility as she goes.

“I’ve learned that I can do more than I thought I could,” she said. “I was pretty hesitant when the jackhammer came up and learning about that. But I could do it, so I’ve learned to be more confident in myself.”

“I’ve learned the pure value that interns can bring to our company,” Marlin added proudly. “Jackie brings skills [to Community Land] and a desire to work and achieve that I never expected. She’s a machine.”