Nick Monson, Grand Forks
A recent article put North Dakota as the number one state of opportunity for youth and went as far to mark the state as having the largest proportion of 20- to 24-year-olds.
It might be easy to visualize young people choosing our state for attractive salaries as roughnecks and truck drivers, but many of them are choosing professional tracks in finance, law, marketing, construction, and all types of engineering. They are gaining jobs not just in the oil patch, but across the state in large towns like Fargo and Grand Forks and even smaller towns like Grafton.
As a sophomore in petroleum engineering at UND, I'll experience both routes. I choose school's relatively new program in petroleum engineering because of opportunity offered by the Bakken. In fact, the petroleum engineering program has grown from just 31 students in the spring of 2012 to nearly 200 today offering all of us a career path with great employment prospects. But first, I will take a position next summer on a roughneck crew in the Bakken that builds my experience in the field. Hopefully the hard work will open the door to a professional internship before graduation and a promising career to follow near my hometown of Bottineau.
Years ago, few would have projected students would compete for opportunities in western North Dakota, but after fighting for years to solve out-migration, the energy industry has given us a state that is growing in total numbers and in youth. I'm proud to be part of this generation of young North Dakotans gaining incredible opportunity because of the Bakken.