The days of posting a job description and praying for a good candidate are long gone.

In order to staff your organization with qualified workers, you must engage in developing your talent pool by becoming a producer of workforce rather than just a consumer. Work-based learning is one of the best methods to make that switch and address your recruitment and retention needs.

But what actually is work-based learning? Any time someone is getting hands-on work experience and training, they are engaged in work-based learning. This can look as simple as job shadowing to an apprenticeship model. And, BillingsWorks is here to help you implement whatever methods best suits your organization’s needs.

The Value of an Internship

Internships Lead to Workforce Training and Retention

When BillingsWorks attended the MSU Bozeman Career Fair attending students were surveyed about their plans after college. The results showed the #1 reason students did not think they could stay in Montana after college graduation was lack of job opportunities.  Montana and our community exports far too many of our college graduates and internships are key to changing this trend.

Internships provide a direct link for students to job opportunities in our community.  Even if the internship does not turn into a full-time position, it widens the student’s network which makes it easier for them to become connected to other job openings.  However, the benefits for employers are more than just participating in training and talent retention. A survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that after five years, 62.4% of hires coming from an employer’s internship program were still with the company, compared to just 48.1% of hires who did not participate in the company’s internship program.

Committing to an internship can seem daunting when the daily tasks and duties of work don’t leave much time to supervise an intern. However, we are here to help and make each step as easy as possible!  Internships can be broken down into project-based or shorter-term time frames to fit employer’s needs.  As long as you are willing to be flexible and work around the student’s school schedule, we can work with you to create a great internship.

The Spring 2018 semester is just around the corner, so contact us now to take the first step!

Contact Karen at or 406-869-8416


On the first day of his internship at Big Sky Economic Development, Seth Swandal from Rocky Mountain College, was unsure of what to expect. While he had read the job description and learned more from the interview process, his worst fear was “showing up and being put in the filing closet.” Fortunately those concerns were short lived as he was thrown into the mix from day one, quickly become part of the Big Sky Economic Development team. The internship “blew my expectations out of the water” he says, “I loved being involved with community leaders, business owners, getting to work with them and network with them all summer.”

According to Melanie Schwarz, Director of Marketing and Member Investors, the key to Seth’s successful internship was ensuring he had “a meaningful project to complete” as well as making sure the project could be completed in the timeframe of his internship, “ (It is) very important they can see the end result and be proud of what they accomplished.”

Seth’s successful internship is one of many at Big Sky Economic Development and the results can be seen in the full video here that Seth himself filmed, edited and produced.

Building an Internship Program

Template syllabi to utilize when building an internship program at your organization.

Easy Internship Guide


It’s Not Just for the Trades Anymore

Apprenticeships have been a means to grow and train talent in the trades since the beginning of and for good reason! This method allows an industry to create a talent pool to pick workers for a long training/interview process ultimately leading to an expert level employee. Knowing its success, the State of Montana has taken big steps to expand apprenticeships to support a multitude of industries.

The Montana Department of Labor and Industry describes registered apprenticeship as a type of work-based learning in which a worker participates in both classroom time and on-the-job training, leading to a nationally recognized credential. Union and non-union employers can sponsor apprenticeship training. Apprenticeships are typically two to four years and employers hope for a positive return from the apprentice in terms of workforce training and retention. Apprentices have the opportunity to earn wages while earning their certification, they also typically earn more than the average college student working around class schedules. Apprentices usually see a high return on their investment, and so do the business who participate in them. Learn More

Want to see if your industry can host an apprentice? Contact Bo Bruinsma, Apprenticeships Specialist for MT DLI at or call him at 406.655.6064 or Katy Easton, Apprenticeship Specialist for MT DLI at

Where to Start

Want an intern or an apprentice but don’t know where to start? Contact Karen Baumgart at or 406-869-8416.

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