It’s not uncommon to interview for a job that doesn’t align with your high school or post-secondary area of study.

But what if your wit and charm isn’t enough to overcome the fact that you have zero prior experience? Work-based learning is an excellent route to take in order to gain on the job experience and training while finishing your education. Work-based learning takes place in the form of a job shadowing, internships and apprenticeships-just to name a few. Find out if this might be a great way for you to explore a career opportunity and earn a wage while doing so.

The Value of an Internship

It’s not about coffee runs anymore

There are many benefits of completing an internship, some of which include, work experience, learning how work as a team and as individuals. Interns typically have the opportunity to meet new people and start building relationships and their network of contacts. As an intern, you will be able to build your own reputation in the industry that interests you most.

Internships are a fantastic tool to use for your resume also. Expressing your skills and experience to perspective employers is key to successful applications. Many employers even use internships as a way to find potential candidates for full-time employees in their business.

Success Story


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.


It’s Not Just for the Trades Anymore

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

Where to Start

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

Want to grow
your workforce?

Get Started

Want to join
our workforce?

Get Started

Sign Up