Brookings businesses look to retain students over summer

By PAT BOWDEN Reporter

In the summer months, when many students seek work, the city of Brookings offers a versatile range of positions that businesses rely on college students to fill, including part-time, full-time and internship positions that urge students to stay closer to South Dakota State University.

One large employer of SDSU students, Daktronics, hires not only upperclassmen for internships and full-time status, but they also hire other non-engineering students that can work in graphic design, marketing and writing part-time.

“The goal of our program is to assign a job to their major so they get some professional experience throughout their education,” Daktronics Corporate Recruiter Leah Brink said. “We think one of the greatest assets that Brookings has to offer is all of the talented young students that go to SDSU, so it’s a win-win for everyone if we can retain them. It’s a core part of our business.”

One SDSU student, who has already completed four internships as an undergraduate student, sees the benefits of students exposing themselves to the workplace before graduation, but he feels that Brookings doesn’t provide enough unique job opportunities for his major.

“[Brookings has] a lack of diversity of jobs available,” junior agronomy major Nick Schaps said. “You’re not going to make a lot of money staying in Brookings here so they’re [students] going to go back to their previous employers. Daktronics has a lot of internships, but if you’re in [a major like] marketing there’s not much for them, or for Ag students.”

According to the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation Brookings Office Manager Jeff Kjenstad, Brookings generally has more manufacturing positions open for students, with retail jobs being another high segment.

“Some students want to work where they’ll make the most in the shortest amount of time …[but] we rely a lot on the students in the summer, and during the school year we also depend on them,” Kjenstad said.

According to both Brink and Kjenstad, early exposure to the workplace, no matter to what degree, is an important key to college 

students’ success in the future. However, Kjenstad doesn’t believe an internship is vital for every student, as not every major will require one.

“Not all majors require an internship, so sometimes students go out and look for that full time job, but if you can do an internship I would encourage students to do that,” Kjenstad said. “It’s more than just a paycheck; you’re learning skills that are going to carry on through life.”

Brink explains that the goal of their program to hire so many college students is so that  students get a job that is related to their major so they can get experience throughout their education.

One common, uniform theme that is hard to argue is that employers look for previous work experience – whether it be internship, full-time or part-time experience.

“I get job-based experience [through my internships]; I’ve been told so by employers that if they’re looking to hire someone and they don’t have prior intern experience, they’re put at the bottom of the list,” Schaps said.

According to both Brink and Kjenstad, those seeking internship spots should have began applying in January and February, and many students will apply for part-time positions after spring break.

Daktronics is hosting a student career fair Thursday, March 26 at their building, where students can interview on the spot. The city of Brookings will also host a job fair featuring 41 businesses on Wednesday, April 1 from noon to 5:30 p.m. at the Days Inn Convention Center.