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From row, left to right: Kevin Burckhard, 1986 MSU and internship alumnus, and Steve Blikre, 1971 MSU graduate. Back row, left to right: Nicholas Taylor, 2014 MSU graduate and current intern, David Scharpe, 2011 MSU and internship alumnus, Brandyn Hendrickson, 2005 MSU graduate, and Jason Merck, 2005 MSU graduate.
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Rewarding career discovered through internship

"Start your last career as soon as possible," said Kevin Burckhard, a 1986 Minot State University graduate. "If you find a rewarding career that allows you to find meaning and make an impact, commit — don't keep your options open."

Burckhard, managing director for Northwestern Mutual, will celebrate his 30th anniversary with the company in January. As a student, he started as an intern before he received an associate degree in management and marketing from Minot State. The Minot native describes himself as "unfocused" with "no plan" as a student and feels "without our internship program, I don't know where I would be."

Northwestern Mutual, a U.S. financial services mutual organization, has provided internships since 1967. For 30 years, Minot State students have participated in its internship program. Burckhard found out about the internship program through Scott Colvert and Patrick Gores, MSU and internship alumni. Gores remains with Northwestern Mutual and is the managing partner for the region of North Dakota and western Minnesota. Another MSU and internship alumnus, Michael Van Grinsven, is Northwestern Mutual's director of recruiting in its Milwaukee headquarters. Burckhard strongly believes students should enter internships.

"My internship gave me real-world experience in a career I hadn't even considered," Burckhard said. "It also gives someone the chance to change careers, if they learn they don't like what they are doing."

Burckhard regularly promotes the Northwestern Mutual internship program and has recommended hundreds of MSU students for the program.