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NDTO News Article

Export Assistant Program Success Story: Yuliya Sapelnikova

The Export Assistant Program, now in its sixth year, places talented graduate students in export companies that need assistance in moving their global business forward.  For former Minnesota State University Moorhead student Yuliya Sapelnikova from Russia, the program proved a valuable stepping stone towards her new position as International Logistics Coordinator at Daktronics in Brookings, SD.

Sapelnikova is one of the many Export Assistant Program success stories.  The North Dakota Trade Office placed Sapelnikova with the North Dakota District Export Council, where she served as the organization’s export assistant from 2010-2011.  During her tenure, Sapelnikova worked primarily with Heather Ranck at the US Commercial Service office in Fargo, assisting North Dakota commercial companies with their international business.

As part of the Export Assistant Program, NDTO requires that candidates have basic knowledge of international business and are committed to the program.

“I believe I came into the position having developed enough global awareness and knowledge to comfortably fit into the field of exporting,” said Sapelnikova.  “Being in the position of an Export Assistant, my goal was to help open doors to markets not previously considered by North Dakota companies.”

For Sapelnikova, primary duties included compiling market research reports for companies new to exporting by using all the available tools within the International Trade Administration.  The completed research then served as a starting point for North Dakota companies by narrowing down to the top markets through market analysis.  Sapelnikova also translated marketing materials and interpreted in Russian in addition to assisting during special events throughout her term.

With exports up 300 percent since 2005, the Export Assistants can be an invaluable addition to North Dakota companies who are interested in entering new markets or increasing market share in countries they’ve been working with for years.  According to Ranck, the Export Assistant Program was extremely beneficial for the US Commercial Service office in Fargo and Sapelnikova contributed significantly to the export community in North Dakota.

“Yuliya … brought her language skills to many companies, helping translate printed material and interpret on-site in various settings,” said Ranck.  “Yuliya was always eager to learn and apply herself and brought a joyful spirit to her work. She provided critical research assistance to dozens of reports, events and activities sponsored by our office, and she will be greatly missed.”

For NDTO, the program is another layer of using international business to help boost revenue for North Dakota and assist companies in the region.

“It’s a good program because it provides North Dakota businesses with the international expertise they need to capitalize on international opportunities and allows our highly-trained graduates to remain in state instead of having to find work elsewhere,” said Mark Johnson, NDTO Director of International Marketing and organizer of the Export Assistant Program.  “The Export Assistant Program is beneficial for both the students and the North Dakota companies, and NDTO is looking forward to another year of success with the program.

For more information about the Export Assistant Program, contact Mark Johnson at or visit