Valley City trains students for specialized field
Valley City State University officials are touting a new program they say will provide training no other school can offer. The university launched a customized software curriculum last fall in conjunction with its partnership with Eagle Creek Sof...
Valley City State University officials are touting a new program they say will provide training no other school can offer.
The university launched a customized software curriculum last fall in conjunction with its partnership with Eagle Creek Software.
The program gives students internship opportunities with Eagle Creek, a Twin Cities-based company that began operating a technology and customer service center in Valley City a year ago.
Tom Ballachino, director of the Eagle Creek project center, said he doesn't know of another university that offers similar training.
"No one quite hits this level of specialization and intense training," Ballachino said.
On Tuesday, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) visited VCSU to discuss ways the campus may participate with his Red River Valley Research Corridor initiative.
VCSU President Ellen Chaffee said the university helped attract Eagle Creek to Valley City by agreeing to offer the customized curriculum.
Graduates of the program will be attractive to thousands of potential employers, including Eagle Creek, Chaffee said.
"The industry is extremely short of qualified people," Chaffee said. "They'll be a very hot item."
Universities don't offer the specialized training VCSU does because the field changes so fast, she said.
VCSU offers two types of internships.
One is a "fast track" program for people who already have a four-year degree but need additional training before entering the workforce.
Of the 24 people who have completed that program so far, all but one were offered jobs at Eagle Creek, Chaffee said.
Twenty of them accepted the Eagle Creek positions, two took other jobs and one opted to pursue graduate school, she said.
The other program is a more traditional internship for students who have completed computer science and business classes and specialized coursework.
A dozen students will be the first traditional interns this semester. The interns earn $8 to $10 per hour and can also earn college credit, Chaffee said.
Eagle Creek Software plans to nearly double the number of employees at its Valley City location this year.
In 2005, the center went from zero to 40 employees, Ballachino said. In 2006 the center hopes to have 60 to 70 employees, he said.
Eagle Creek supports customer relationships management software for the nation's largest companies.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590