Having grown up on a hobby farm in Central Minnesota, Aria Kapsner always enjoyed being outside. Her love for nature followed her to the University of Minnesota in Crookston where she’s currently pursuing a degree in Natural Resources Management. This summer, working as a surface water intern at RMB Environmental Laboratories Inc., Kapsner managed to find a paying summer job where she can work outside for hours a time.
“Being in the field, learning about different plant identification and how to use certain equipment, it’s quite rewarding,” Kapsner said.
With three labs across the state, RMB provides a variety of environmental services but they specialize in water compliance and assessment monitoring. During a recent virtual trip to RMB’s Detroit Lakes facility, Tracy Borash, one half of RMB’s husband and wife founding team, talked about the seasonal nature of their business and the effect that has on their finances. When everything freezes over in the winter, business – and their profits – tend to go down.
“The funds that are available to us through SciTech helps us bring in great quality students, and we just really appreciate that assistance,” Borash said.
Since 2017, RMB has relied on the SciTech Internship Program to hire talent for the summer and offer them competitive pay. As a state-funded program, SciTech reimburses participating companies for half of the wages paid to the interns they hire (up to $2,500), making it easier for small businesses to get the help they need while offering meaningful work experiences to the students involved.
State Representative Anne Claflin, a member of the House Jobs committee with a background in science, joined the SciTech team for the visit and recalled the lab internships that she had when she was a student. Representative Claflin took the opportunity to ask RMB’s interns about how this experience has influenced their future education goals.
“I never thought I’d want to take courses related to water resources,” Kapsner admitted. “But after working here and learning how important even surface water and drinking water is, that’s something I’ve thought about more and added it to my coursework this upcoming semester.”
Kapsner wasn’t the only intern hired this summer. RMB also welcomed Casey Jenson and Carly Mahoney. An RMB veteran, this was Mahoney’s second year working as a Laboratory Intern.
“They did a really great job training me last year and I felt really comfortable with everything, but I knew there was more I wanted to learn in the lab,” Mahoney said. “So that’s why I came back this summer, so I could learn something new.”
Mahoney went from assisting an analyst last summer to running her own experiments this year. It goes to show that when interns are given the guidance to learn and the room to grow, they can make impactful contributions to a company’s productivity.
“Having interns is a breath of fresh air. They give our fulltime staff a break,” Borash agreed. “When Aria started in May, we could hardly breathe. We can’t wait for these students to come in. And once they do we hit the ground running with them. These students are so excited and so moldable. They come in here and they want to gather information so they can build on things and apply what they’re learning in school. I just love their personalities and their excitement.”
Find out how interns can benefit your small business with SciTech, the internship program that connects college STEM majors with rewarding, hands-on experience in small companies. Learn more and apply at SciTechMN.org.