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Hands-on training in the oil patch

Friday, August 9th, 2013
Posted by Sara Spaulding; Williston Herald

Williston State College partnered with a university in Spokane, Wash., this summer to provide housing for interns throughout the city. Gonzaga, a Catholic and Jesuit university, sent about 12 students who worked in a variety of places, such as the hospital, the golf course, the college and for the city.

The program was a dream of born-and-raised Willistonian Jim Powers, who is an alum of Gonzaga. Powers is on Gonzaga's board of trustees. He currently resides in Colorado but operates a business in Williston, so he is here a lot. He thought Williston would offer great internship opportunities for out-of-state students.

Last summer, five other trustee members came to Williston and met with community leaders and Dr. Raymond Nadolny, president of WSC. Nadolny offered to let interns stay on campus during the summer. With the housing issue solved, it wasn't hard to find the interns places to work. They offered valuable service to the community and received hands-on training in their field of study.

Lauren Campbell of Seattle, who graduated with a business administration and international relations degree in May, had a business internship at the Williston Holding Company this summer. The internship led to the first step in her career - she was offered a full-time position with the company.

She will be doing business administration work and will be living with a family she works with.

Lilly Bruce did a business internship with WSC this summer. She graduated this May with a business degree with a concentration in finance. She is currently interviewing for jobs in San Francisco. Her summer proved enjoyable. She learned from being exposed to the growth and she feels the town was hospitable.

"Being from a big city, I was a little nervous coming here, but its been a great experience," she said.

Mike Curtis of Denver did an accounting internship at the hospital. He has one more year left at Gonzaga. He learned a lot about what his area of study is like outside the classroom.

"Its definitely opened my eyes up to how hectic it can be," he said. "It's the first real business world experience I've had - other than working a summer job."

Curtis was asked to stay longer than his internship program was supposed to run, so he will be staying until the end of August instead of mid-August.

Paige Lawrence did an internship with the city of Williston's public works department. She will graduate in 2014 with a degree in civil engineering. She thinks the experience she got here was triple what she could have received somewhere else because of the fast-paced growth of the city. Lawrence is from Orange County, Calif. and was fascinated by the people from a variety of places who have come to Williston.

Joe Poss, Gonzaga's vice president of advancement, is excited that the students not only were able to develop their career but to learn about community development in such a growing city. This was the first year of the internship program and the university plans to continue next summer.

"Just in the 24 hours I've been here, I've been blown away by the people," said Poss.

He was impressed by the perspective of both locals and those new to town.

"There's such a sense of optimism," he said.