University of Minnesota


Hennepin County Government Center against a blue sky

Students can help with...

Research: identify best practices + collect, analyze, evaluate data

Technology: use GIS + assess tech options + manage social media

Events: find speakers + plan logistics + produce videos & reports

Reports & Presentations: write reports + prepare presentations

To start working with students, contact us!

Working with Students

Temporary Hire

Working with undergraduate, graduate, or Ph.D. students is an inexpensive way to complete projects without having to hire additional staff. Upper level students are capable of advanced, self-directed work typical of an independent consultant.

Example: Research on how to Increase Voter Registration in Hennepin County
More information: There are myriad ways to engage students. Complete this quick and easy form, and HUP will be in touch shortly to discuss options.


Capstones are project-based, graduate level courses focused on particular topics. Faculty oversee projects and assists in their design/execution. Note that capstones are typically free, and tied to academic semesters.

Example: Examining Legal Impacts of HERC Energy Sales
More information: Current opportunties are listed on SharePoint. The Humphrey School works closely with the County and has a capstone page where you can fill out a capstone interest form or contact capstone director Kevin Gerdes.

Service Learning

Service Learning incorporates community involvement in undergraduate courses to addresses a community-identified need. HUP can work with you to add a free service learning component to a course.

Example: Hennepin County Library Website Usability Testing
More information: Center for Community-Engaged Learning

Paying Students

When hiring students as temporary county employees, expect to pay undergraduate students $15 per hour, and graduate students $20-$25 per hour.

Graduate Assistantships through the University attract top quality students. Graduate students hired through the U (referred to as Graduate Assistants) cost $41.44 per hour during the Fall and Spring semesters, which includes hourly pay plus tuition and health benefits. For the Summer semester, the cost is $22.12 per hour.

See this table for a comprehensive look at rates and semester totals.

Most students work 10 - 20 hours per week. Offering competitive wages attracts greater diversity and talent; many students do not have the luxury of working for no or low pay.

These rates apply when hiring an individual student. Capstone students and service learners typically do not receive monetary compensation, as they are undertaking work that meets classroom requirements.


I want to work with a student. Now what?
Consider contacting HUP first. Depending on your timeline and the type of work, we will match you with the best option, from an intern to a capstone. Independent soul? This flowchart will lead you in the right direction based off of the timeline and scope, and this planning sheet can help organize your thoughts.

Do I have to pay for capstones / service learning?
Typically no. Service learning courses, offered through the Center for Community-Engaged Learning, are free. Graduate level capstones may have associated costs depending on the school (for example, the Carlson School of Management charges for capstones, the Humphrey School of Public Policy school does not).

Can I accommodate a student's schedule?
Course scheduling means students will be available only during certain hours on certain days, although it is common for graduate students to have entire days with no class. Students may be available to work additional hours over semester breaks and during the summer months (UMN Academic Calendar).

Can I provide a valuable learning experience?
Students gain by observing professionals on the job and by participating in impact-full work. Your department should involve students in meetings, presentations, briefings, etc. Know that students - especially graduates - want to produce high caliber work and expect you to hold them to a high standard.

How much supervision is required?
Graduate students can complete a project with limited direction, while less experienced undergrads will require more supervision. Regardless, you should provide adequate guidance and oversight for the student to succeed, as they will be unfamiliar with your department. Weekly check-in meetings are recommended.


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