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Commerce internship program features reciprocal learning, career opportunities

Jul 14, 2023

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Kelsey Haile was a college student at Wichita State University when she began an internship in 2021 at the Kansas Department of Commerce.

The move was a major step forward in Haile’s career, as she’s now working full time at the Department of Commerce. Looking back, Haile credits her internship at the state’s lead economic development agency for equipping her with unique skills and experience she couldn’t find anywhere else.

Internships at Commerce offer one-of-a-kind training and mentoring that are useful in many careers. Commerce interns receive hands-on training in areas ranging from Community Development to Marketing, Legal, Tourism and others that are key parts of Kansas’ economic development efforts.

The internship opportunities at Commerce also are part of the State of Kansas Internship Program, which gives interns access to accomplished mentors in fields across the state government agencies — from Agriculture to Health and Environment, Information Technology, Law Enforcement and many other areas with in-demand career paths.

Interns at Commerce and others participating in the state program also get a close look at how state government works in areas beyond their internships through group tours, meetings, coffee chats and activities at different agencies and the State Capitol. 

The unique opportunities aren’t just for college students seeking summertime gigs. Thanks to flexibility in the State of Kansas Internship Program, internships are tailored to fit individuals, with interns representing diverse demographics and life experiences — including undergraduate and graduate students, high school students, adult learners, transitioning military veterans and post-retirement individuals.

The thoughtful approach brings far-reaching benefits for all involved. Interns receive structured training, fair compensation, meaningful feedback and a way to build portfolios and experience that stand out on job applications.

On the flip side, state government is building a pipeline for new hires — interns are more likely to stay with an employer than other workers — and benefiting from the diversity of perspectives interns have to offer. 

While summer is the peak time, internship opportunities are available year-round, and in every part of the state. At Commerce, for example, interns receive $14 an hour while learning from experts in their field.

Nine interns now on staff at Commerce are training and making contributions in a fast-paced environment that emphasizes innovation in the midst of record-breaking economic development success across Kansas.  

Haile’s internship led to her current position as Operations and Logistics Coordinator for Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of Commerce David Toland. Her advice to other interns: “Say ‘yes’ to every opportunity, form relationships with as many people as you can, and be bold in the pursuit of change. Change starts with our young professionals!”

The educational internships with the State of Kansas help Haile and other aspiring professionals of all ages separate themselves from the pack — and also experience the reward of contributing to the kind of change that’s good for their communities and the state as a whole.

To learn more about Kansas’ award-winning economic development programs and business successes, please visit