Meet Benton Economic Partnership Intern Johanna Isaro Ngango

Meet Benton Economic Partnership Intern Johanna Isaro Ngango Main Photo

2 May 2023


Benton Economic Partnership, Inc. (BEP) in Benton County, MN, is pleased to announce the onboarding of Johanna Isaro Ngango as the Economic Development Marketing Intern for 2023. Johanna is a St. Cloud State University senior majoring in Political Science, International Relations, Urban Planning and Community Development.

“Through our internship program, Benton Economic Partnership, Inc. is committed to offering students a meaningful and professional experience in the field of economic development,” said Amanda Othoudt, BEP Executive Director. “After the completion of our internship program, aspiring economic developers are able to find work under a wide range of job titles, including community development/economic development specialist, project director, and project coordinator. Whatever her eventual job title, Johanna will take the skills she honed here to advance and promote healthy local economies.”

The capacity to support an internship position is a testament to the professionalism of BEP. Internships allow students to gain practical experience, test classroom knowledge, and network. Employers benefit from valuable assistance and fresh perspectives. Students or recent graduates have up-to-date knowledge and skills in areas such as marketing, research, and data analysis. Additionally, interns can serve as an important liaison between the economic development office and the academic community. Economic development is all about partnerships, and an internship program can play a vital role in creating them.

Q & A with Johanna Isaro Ngango

Q: Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What do you like about Minnesota? 

Johanna: I was born and raised in Rwanda. I moved to Minnesota for further education. This state has a lot to offer in terms of beauty, culture, and opportunities. All four seasons in Minnesota offer picturesque sights to see. Plus, it is very easy to play water sports, go fishing, rock climb, or play winter sports. It’s new adventures and lots of fun every day, all year round.

The culture of generosity is reflected in many Minnesotan communities. It is here that I learned that something as simple as a “please and thank you” can go a long way. The hospitality Minnesotans exhibit makes this a home away from home. Additionally, the state has an excellent higher education system that prepares students to be the best candidates in the workforce and, through career guidance, launches them into an environment of plentiful job opportunities in various fields, all over the state and the world.

Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?

Johanna: I like to stay in and watch comedy shows. I also like to play basketball and tennis and, on occasion, socialize with my friends.

Q:  Why did you choose your career path? Is this your first internship? If not, what else have you done, and how does that experience help you at BEP?

Johanna: I was inspired by the growth of Rwanda from 1994 to present day. Rwanda’s economy has undergone a significant transformation in the past 29 years. After the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, the country has been on a quest to revive its economy. I believe Rwanda is an economic success story. It is from witnessing such commitment that drove me to choose my career path. I believe there is a high demand for professionals who can provide creative solutions to problems overlooked by the service or governmental sectors. A key aspect of socioeconomic development planning is making informed decisions. I like to research the connection between economic forces and social systems. This career is a tool that will equip me with better decision-making, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills for my community and other communities I will serve.

This is my first internship in the Economic Development field. I worked in Urban Planning and Community Development prior to this. The knowledge and skills I acquired in my previous internship have sharpened my quick-thinking skills and understanding of human-centered design/planning, which I believe will be key in my internship at BEP. Socioeconomic development is an evolving field. This makes my work more diverse and exciting.

Q: What are your career goals (or education goals if you are pursuing an advanced degree)?

Johanna:  I would like to complete a Master’s Degree in Public Administration with an emphasis in Regional Planning and become a professional socio-economic development planner. As the world continues to become more and more interconnected, it is important that regions have the same vision of improving economic performance and creating new opportunities for growth and prosperity for people who choose to stay in their home communities or migrate.

Q: What do you hope to learn at BEP? What do you hope to contribute? 

Johanna: I believe that economic development is a dynamic and challenging field that requires a combination of technical skills, creativity, and strategic thinking. These are attributes that I find present in the team of professionals at BEP and hope to learn during my experience with BEP. I want to understand their approach to sustaining the economic development of Benton County and what successful tools they have used. I hope to exercise all my effort to support the vision of this organization through hard work and good relations.

Q: What have you liked so far about your internship? How will this experience help you to achieve your career goals?

Johanna: I like the goal-oriented, all-inclusive leadership at BEP. Economic development planners work with a wide range of stakeholders, including community groups, businesses, government agencies, and diverse investors, all with different opportunities to address challenges in local communities. But they also must maintain the successes they may have achieved. I like how the BEP leadership prioritizes a deep understanding of Benton County’s needs and seeks solutions that fit the vision of the community they are serving. I believe this inclusiveness can translate into an open-door policy in the workplace, which not only helps me as an intern to grow my career but also supports my academic growth.

Q: Is there anything else you would like readers to know? 

Johanna: I recommend that our communities acquire more knowledge on the potential impact of economic growth and development on an individual basis, as this is not a one-size-fits-all discipline. I believe every individual is a co-creator of a livable, healthy community. Economic development relies heavily on a multidisciplinary partnership and is catalyzed and accelerated by all hands on deck. The more communities investigate themes that influence the economy and society, as well as their potential causes and repercussions, the more they will know what works for them, the resources they have to make it work, and how to make it work.

More About Benton Economic Partnership

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