Heather Hopkins recently completed an internship with the Barnesville Economic Development Authority. This is what she had to say about the experience:
My name is Heather Hopkins and I have spent the last 3 months interning with the Barnesville Economic
Development Authority (EDA). I have learned and developed many new skills in the last 3 months that
could never be taught in a classroom. It has been an extremely valuable and rewarding experience to
have spent my summer with the EDA.
Throughout my internship, I was regularly expected to complete tasks and projects that I had never
done before. In addition to perfecting basic office skills, I also learned how to use programs such as
MailChimp, Microsoft Mail Merge, Publisher, Canva, Pixlr, and WordPress. I continued to use these
programs regularly throughout the internship and highly anticipate using them in my future career.
Many of the projects I worked on centered around informing current and prospective residents, directly
and indirectly, about all the wonderful things the city of Barnesville has to offer. This included a variety
of marketing activities and strategies performed through a multitude of different ways. I provided
information to hundreds of Fargo/Moorhead realtors via a monthly email as well as personally delivered
nearly 600 informational packets to over 30 different real estate agencies. I also collected data on the
City of Barnesville’s Facebook page to determine the audience of our Facebook fans. From there, I
developed a Facebook marketing strategy to increase our page likes by Barnesville and immediate area
residents. This allowed me to market the many new additions we received in Barnesville this summer
creating positive feedback for the city and word of mouth recommendations. I also conducted a survey
to all new residents in Barnesville since 2016 in order to obtain data about why and how our new
residents are choosing Barnesville as well as wrote press releases to inform local media outlets of the
things happening around Barnesville.
A slightly surprising part of my internship was how much I learned from simple every day office and
meeting life. The EDA office is a part of many different boards and committees. I had to opportunity to
sit in on many different meetings throughout my internship ranging from the City Council meeting to the
Barnesville Area Community Fund meeting to the EDA Board and Committee Meetings. Learning how a
group works together through these meetings by discussing and voting on important issues was
instrumental in understanding how a city and all its various parts work.
A large part of this internship was developing contacts and relationships with the people within
Barnesville and the surrounding community. One large project I worked on was a survey conducted with
all the businesses in and around Barnesville, which centered on employment numbers and trends as
well as the company’s future plan. I personally called over 90 businesses owners and was able to get a
92% response rate. The data I collected was presented to the EDA Board where there was great interest
in the results. I also discovered and met with a contact from PartnerSHIP 4 Health who assists and
connects communities with resources and funds to promote healthy living styles. This newly developed
relationship will hopefully lead to a future of collaboration between the city of Barnesville and
PartnerSHIP 4 Health.
I was lucky enough to have a chance to attend the first ever Economic Development Academy
sponsored by the Minnesota Economic Development Foundation at Hamline University. This 2-day
experience geared towards interns and new practitioners was extremely informative in understanding a
wide variety of relevant organizations and economic development in cities of all different sizes. I was
also able to meet and get contact information from fellow interns and speakers that I would have
otherwise never been able to do. The various knowledge I learned and contacts I made through this
experience will continue to be relevant and beneficial to me as I begin my future career.
Interning with the Barnesville EDA this summer has been an amazing opportunity. I have gained
irreplaceable skills and experience that I would have never received in a classroom. I am extremely
grateful to the Minnesota Economic Development Foundation and to the Barnesville EDA for this
opportunity to have learned so much and be a part of such a vital component of the city of Barnesville.