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R5DC Internship: Experience Journal Written By James Vold


I was finishing my last semester of my junior year at Staples-Motley High School. During my Business class, where I gain college credit through Central Lakes College in Brainerd, I was offered to apply for an internship to gain experience with real world business professionalism. Of course, I applied and created a resume special to the internship with Region Five Development Commission. This experience was one of the many lessons that I have learned and will keep with me throughout my adult career. Soon enough, I had a chance to interview with Staci Headley. I was happy and excited with how the interview went, so I waited every day for a message of whether I made the team. With less than a couple weeks left in school, I was informed that I made the team! June 10th was the start of an amazing journey.

(I will not be being covering every day I worked at Region Five Development Commission.)

Day One

June 10th was my introduction to staff. That day started with paperwork and policy readings. Everyone I met on the team was very kind and welcoming. I left after a couple hours thinking how lucky I am, and excited to get to learning, and applying my skills to help in any fashion.

First RTCC

June 12th was my first time experiencing a real business meeting. I drove to Brainerd’s Minnesota Department of Transportation facility. I was nervous at first because I had never been to this location before, but excited to experience every minute. I entered the room to find Matt and Tad working to set up the meeting. Seeing the project plan and the discussion between professionals working on the project was a fantastic and entertaining time. Having Domino’s Pizza to finish the meeting was also a plus, but seeing Matt and Tad work, and show their success was an inspiring experience.

NCEDA Loan Board

On June 13th, I went to Sebeka to sit on NCEDA’s Board Meeting. I sat next to Angela Anderson. Her duty there was to give a presentation on her marketing projects she worked on. Some of these projects included but were not limited to: a brand new website, flyers and posters. Seeing how well these marketing projects looked and performed was very interesting. Afterwards, I paid attention to how everyone would communicate with each other. I don’t remember the details of the meeting, but I do remember the passion and work involved in every topic of the meeting. Of course, the meeting was held at HUB 71 Restaurant which lead to grabbing lunch there. Personally, I felt like I was a little kid at a family event where I sat at the adult’s table. Every individual gave warm welcome to me and each other.

Workshop with Stephanie

On June 20th, I came to the Staples office to join Stephanie Barney to go to a workshop. We both got to be educated on subjects related to: mental health in a general aspect, farmers financial, and mental, and emotional status and troubles. The experience as a whole was very eye opening and made me feel empowered because I felt more equipped to live a more fulfilling life.

Solar Schools Tour

On June 21st , I joined some of the Region Five Development Commission team to look at the solar farms located at educational facilities. The ultimate purpose was to get the solar schools project to the next level of completion, yet it was also very interesting to see. I believe each solar array gave way to creating a more positive impact on the local economy, and ecosystem. I also thought, “We are living the future right here.”

Vet CSA Pickup

On June 25th, I decided to pick one of the many times I went along with Staci Headley to help, and see how Vet CSA’s work, and the processes behind the operation. I found the entire operation took a long time to think and act upon, and with great success to come about it. There also seems to be many parts, and people involved. The most exciting fact about Vet CSA pickups is the fact that real veterans are able to receive healthy, sustainable foods at no cost at all.

Thriving by Design Event

On June 26th , I tagged along to an event called Thriving by Design. I listened to Dawn Espe, and Cheryal Hills speak on community outreach projects, and share local stories to the community. The room definitely had some tension with listeners who would speak against Dawn and Cheryal. The experience gave me a perspective that there are some opposing views when it comes to community-based projects, yet the resistance that night didn’t feel productive.

RED Meeting & Commission Meeting

On June 27th, I went down to the cities with Cheryal Hills to attend a RED meeting. The premise of the meeting was to understand millennial’s challenges and strengths. I also heard about making a life and living in rural Minnesota and understanding how to improve the quality of life. Every topic covered, and being surrounded by many intelligent, and professional individuals made the entire experience worthwhile.

Start of Research & Work

On July 8th, I was appointed to start some hands-on work. I found this opportunity to be very exciting. This meant that I was able to put my skills and creativity to use. The projects at hand ranged from research to journaling my experience of my internship.

Brainerd Yellow Ribbon Meeting

On July 11th, I visited the Baxter town building for a Yellow Ribbon meeting. I wasn’t sure exactly what was going to go on, yet I felt that I learned so much throughout the meeting. From specifics to where money goes and why, to seeing individuals care for the work they do.


It’s hard to imagine that I could have missed this opportunity because of X, Y, Z factors, but I will forever be that broken record player that says, “I feel very lucky, and grateful”. The next logical question would be why? I feel lucky because there are so many great people who know more than I do when it comes to the field of business. On the other hand, I believe in my character and perseverance to push me to get the most out of life. I am grateful for being accepted as an intern at Region Five Development Commission.

James Vold is entering his senior year at Staples-Motley High School and completed his internship at R5DC in the summer of 2019. This internship was facilitated in partnership with Rural MN CEP.


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