Internships and experience

I’m working on an article for an upcoming issue of Prairie Business that focuses on internships and mentorship opportunities for college students. I’m finding out some schools offer really incredible programs.

I interned at the Grand Forks Herald when I was in college, was hired as a part-time general assignment reporter when my internship was over and was hired as a full-time education reporter after I graduated from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. I spent a year in that role, worked for a clean energy industry trade journal for a few years and then came back to the Herald, first as the editor of Agweek and now as editor of Prairie Business. Had I not had that first internship at the Herald, I don’t know what I’d be doing now. But I’m glad I’m here.

Internships don’t always result in job offers, but they’re a foot in the door and a great way to network and make important connections. I didn’t know I wanted to be a journalist until I took UND’s Community Journalism class, which directly led to my Herald internship. That journalism professor forced us to get out there and meet people, make connections and beg for our work to be published. It was humbling. But effective. And today I can trace my entire career back to that first attempt at a news article, a nervous 20-year-old me asking a city editor to publish my work, and that same editor deciding I should expand my writing talent as his intern.

College students: Take advantage of those opportunities, even if right now you think they’re pointless. You might end up somewhere unexpected and better than you had planned.

The April Issue is Here

Today is the day we reveal the digital edition of Prairie Business’ April issue (click here to see it). I might be biased, but I think it’s pretty stupendous.

Our features include 2016’s first Community Profile, which highlights Bismarck and Mandan in North Dakota, coverage of how the region’s engineering schools are expanding and partnering with employers to ensure students are trained in the most up-to-date programs, and a summary of how a planned interstate interchange in South Dakota might boost economic development in and around Sioux Falls.

Ed Schafer stars in the Business Insider profile and the Construction Corner explores the many updates and additions in store for Ward County, N.D., facilities.

You will want to check it out. Subscribe at to have each monthly issue delivered to your inbox, or text PBMAG to 72727 to have the link to each digital edition sent to your phone.

You should get your print editions in the mail in a week or so. Enjoy!


A brand new website

It’s official. Prairie Business has launched its brand new website: We’ve been working on this for months and it’s finally ready for you all to explore.

The new interface and streamlined navigation allows simple searches by category and a new (and functional) search option digs up whatever you might want to see on the site by keyword.

So take a few minutes to peruse the site, check out the latest regional, national and world news, and subscribe to our free digital edition. You can do that on the site (click here), or text PBMAG to 72727. That way, you’ll receive a text message when each month’s digital edition is ready to view, a full week before the print edition comes out.

You can subscribe to the print edition and weekly Talking Points newsletter on the new website, too.

We’re proud of this new site and I think you’ll enjoy it.

A robust roundtable

This week, Prairie Business held its first Community Profile meeting in a few years. We’re bringing them back this year, an effort to highlight the unique business environments in the communities in our readership area. The first one was an extraordinary success.

With a view overlooking the countryside south of Bismarck from the University of Mary Harold Schaefer Leadership Center, about 15 representatives from the city, energy, higher education and health care sectors discussed the issues facing Bismarck/Mandan, the communities’ welcoming attitude toward small business and what the cities have to offer young people coming in to attend one of the area’s three higher education institutions.

We had a room full of influential, passionate and educated people who shared their knowledge and experience with us. I left walking on air and I think our attendees gained a lot from it, too.

We’ll be hosting these meetings in Grand Forks, Fargo and Minot this year, too, and I’m eager to see what our conversations center around in those communities. Next year, we’ll expand the discussions outside of North Dakota.

Bismarck/Mandan’s Community Profile will appear in the April issue of the magazine and it’s definitely something you’ll want to read.

An impressive issue of Prairie Business

The Feburary issue of Prairie Business is done and off to the printer. I can’t wait for our readers to see it. The content is great. The photos are attractive and it features a Corporate Communities special section, highlighting what companies do to promote culture. We also added editorial to this Corporate Communities section, which we haven’t done before. The Q&As with business leaders answer important questions about promoting and maintaining culture in a workplace. The respondents we chose submitted excellent answers and I learned a lot. You likely will, too.

The features are centered around culture, as well as the workforce shortage plaguing employers and what they’re doing to solve it.

We are proud of this issue of the magazine and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed putting it together.

Now, on to March.

Nominate an Inspiring Woman

Prairie Business is taking nominations for our Top 25 Women in Business awards. The deadline is Jan. 15, so there’s still time to get your nominations in.

We look for women who are accomplished in their industries, but also expertly balance that career success with community involvement, volunteerism and family life. If you know someone whose hard work deserves recognition, tell us about her.

To enter a nomination, visit and click the Top 25 Women in Business button.

Good luck to all our nominees.

Preparing the January magazine

The January issue of Prairie Business is almost out the door. I think it’s a great one, but I might be a little biased.

The features are centered around energy and information technology. We touch on cybersecurity, which is a huge problem for many companies right now, as well as waste-to-energy systems in the Northern Plains. I’m passionate about clean, green energy so I was really excited to be able to write about it for my first full feature in Prairie Business.

I hope you’re all excited to read it. You should be.

Now that January is ready, it’s time to work on the February issue. That’ll be a great one, too.

Workforce woes

A resounding theme in meetings this week with the Fargo-Moorhead Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Corporation was the workforce shortage and struggle to fill open positions.

It’s not a problem exclusive to Fargo, and the solutions the city is developing are similar to those being implemented around the country. A recent study of the Fargo-Moorhead area showed the cities have 6,500 job vacancies. Fargo has a great economy, is experiencing growth in many sectors, but doesn’t have enough trained people for the jobs available.

A recent meeting with a Grand Forks-based engineering and architecture firm addressed the same issue.

Where does the solution start? Is it keeping college students around by offering good, high-paying jobs when they graduate? Is it simply a matter of communicating to college students that our communities can offer them the big jobs with John Deere, Microsoft, Case, Sanford and other major brands?

I attended a business advisory committee meeting at the Grand Forks Herald a few months ago that raised the question of whether University of North Dakota students are aware of job and internship opportunities the city’s businesses can offer. The answer seemed to be “No.”

That’s a fundamental problem. We’re not showing fresh, ambitious college graduates their dream job could be here and they don’t have to move to larger cities to live a comfortable professional life. Admittedly, I didn’t think I would stay in Grand Forks after college, but an internship with the Herald led to a full-time job after graduation and other opportunities dovetailed off that job.

Grand Forks and Fargo have great opportunities. We’re college towns, but we’re professional towns, too.

And who wouldn’t want to stick around and continue to cheer on the Bison or the Fighting Hawks?

Culture is crucial

I tagged along to a meeting this week with a Prairie Business salesperson and one of her clients. Of course, we met with a marketing official, but I was pleasantly surprised when our conversation turned to the importance of culture in the workplace, and what that company does to keep it healthy.

Everyone participates in development and design of programs to make new employees feel comfortable and part of the team, to keep existing employees engaged and interested, and to maintain communication and teamwork among all departments. She was excited to tell us about it, and her passion for the company’s culture efforts was clear and sincere.

Culture is important everywhere and most good companies have initiatives in place to promote it. Maybe your workplace has office olympics or regular team lunch events, trivia competitions, picnics or stylish break rooms with comfortable furniture.

I’ve been pushing for a popcorn machine in my cubicle, but so far, my efforts have been unsuccessful.

Good managers know the happiness of their employees is vital to a company’s success. Employees who like the company they work for are dedicated to it and inspired to perform in their job duties to the best of their abilities.

So be inspired to tell your boss you’d be better at your job if you had afternoon beers every Friday. It’s a pretty solid pitch.

Research with the environment in mind

I wrote an article today about research going on at UND’s Energy & Environmental Research Center that will result in biodegradable, eco-friendly and renewable drilling fluids.

And that’s not all.

These fluids will be made with North Dakota crop feedstocks and used in the state’s oil industry. North Dakota has the resources for production and the market for use. It’s a perfect project.

I am not a chemist and do not understand reactions (even on basic levels like baking), so the process is way over my head. But I am passionate about the environment and I love seeing research like this that improves our processes for obtaining and producing resources we need in our modern world.

My sources for the article were quick and careful to point out that current drilling fluids made with diesel components are not detrimental to the environment because they’re used well below the groundwater level. I question that, but I also know very little about drilling.

In my opinion, regardless of the level of contamination and pollution, cleaner methods are always better. And researchers like the ones at EERC are working to come up with those methods. Energy and environment have historically not been pals. We haven’t used a lot of eco-friendly energy resources. But we’re coming along. EERC’s researchers are clearly passionate about what they do and I’m eager to see what they come up with next.

Check out the article here