New Launch: Full Year of Student Connect Programming

After a successful pilot program launch during the Spring 2021 semester, NORTHFORCE is launching a full year of Student Connect programming. Early in 2021, NORTHFORCE added Student Connect programming to help connect area students with local professionals and organizations that are invested in our community. 

The Student Connect program is made possible with partnerships between NORTHFORCE, higher education institutions, and businesses across northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin. The purpose of the Student Connect programming is to retain talent locally by creating an environment where students feel welcomed into our community and develop genuine professional connections.

Student Connect programming for this year centers around six professional development programming opportunities in the Fall 2021 semester, with programming to be repeated with six events in Spring 2022. View the schedule and find more details here: Student Connect Fall 2021 Calendar

Professional Development Opportunities

Three of the six events will explore professional development topics tailored for Northland students. Students will have tangible takeaways from each session including:

  • crafting and practicing an elevator pitch
  • starting or enhancing a LinkedIn profile
  • guidance in choosing and signing up for community volunteer activities
  • completion and analysis of various personality profiles

Business Meet & Greets

The other three events will host business meet and greets featuring local employers. The meet and greets are open to students as well as any individuals who might be interested in living and working within the 10-county NORTHFORCE region. Students can learn from and engage with other job seekers as well as participating businesses from around the region. 

At the completion of the program, students will walk away with improved professional skills, increased connection to local professionals and the community, a greater understanding of and potential to participate in regional career opportunities and internships, and a certificate of completion to add to their resume.

Free Virtual Programming

The free programming will take place via Zoom. All six events are open to unlimited attendance by students of all majors/interests from all 12 colleges, universities, and technical schools across the NORTHFORCE region of northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin:

  • College of St. Scholastica
  • Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College
  • Hibbing Community College
  • Itasca Community College
  • Lake Superior College
  • Mesabi Range College
  • Northland College
  • Northwood Technical College Ashland & Superior campuses
  • Rainy River Community College
  • University of Minnesota Duluth
  • University of Wisconsin Superior
  • Vermilion Community College

Opportunity for Employers to Tap Talent Locally

Employers that have participated in recent online events hosted or co-hosted by NORTHFORCE have highlighted several advantages of virtual career fairs compared to traditional fairs. Above all, employers appreciate the ability to talk to smaller, more focused groups of students and job seekers who have a high level of interest in their organizations. 

Student Connect takes this working model and extends it, coordinating between employers and education institutions to:

  • expand internship opportunities
  • provide employment coaching services based on regional hiring demand data
  • facilitate student job placement locally
  • inform students about opportunities to volunteer and get involved in the community
  • and more!

The Student Connect program is part of the larger Welcoming Community programming Northspan is launching. Its goal is to integrate new residents or those from historically disadvantaged backgrounds to foster an inclusive environment that sets the stage for community and economic growth.  

The Northland hosts a large population of students who choose to come here for their college years, yet a vast majority of graduates leave our area after they graduate. Through Student Connect, students from all 13 campuses in the NORTHFORCE region can meet other students from the area, learn about local employers, and make connections with leading professionals. 

Students interested in participating in Student Connect can learn more and register here:

Organizations and businesses interested in partnering with Student Connect can learn more by emailing Elissa Hansen, Northspan President & CEO at 

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NORTHFORCE connects career-minded individuals with professional opportunities in the Northland and is powered by Northspan. NORTHFORCE is funded in part  by the following partners: Department of Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation; Duluth Economic Development Authority (DEDA); Duluth Seaway Port Authority; Northeast Minnesota Workforce Development Board; Minnesota Power; APEX;  and JCC Services. Learn more at 

Northspan specializes in creative thinking, enterprising strategies, and systematic approaches to help businesses, communities, regions, and organizations prosper in a global economy, working cooperatively with economic and community development partners to leverage resources for measurable, sustainable results. Learn more at

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