NORTHFORCE Gears Up for Year Two of Mentor Connection

Preparations for the 2017-2018 program year of Mentor Connection are underway! Organized by NORTHFORCE, the program will once again pair college students from the University of Minnesota-Duluth and The College of St. Scholastica with established local professionals.

Overseen by APEX (Area Partnership for Economic Expansion) and The Northspan Group, NORTHFORCE is a local initiative aimed at attracting and retaining talent in northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin. This will be the second year that NORTHFORCE has coordinated Mentor Connection.

“We’re excited to keep making meaningful connections between top students and local professionals who care about keeping talent here in the Northland,” said Sara Mowchan, NORTHFORCE’s Talent Consultant and Mentor Connection’s Director.

The 2016-2017 Mentor Connection cohort officially graduated on April 12. The program centered around five events held at different sites throughout Duluth including the Kitchi Gammi Club and UMD’s Malosky Stadium. Each event focused on a theme such as how to build your brand and network locally, or explored topics such as generational differences in the workplace.

“Mentors and mentees are also encouraged to interact outside of program events,” said Mowchan. “At least three mentorships from our past program year have already led to jobs or internships for local students.”

The 2016-2017 program year also featured a special event organized by Minnesota Power. On a tour of corporate facilities, mentors and mentees met with over fifteen company representatives who offered insights into career pathways ranging from corporate management to solar energy gardening.

With six events scheduled over the course of Fall and Spring semester, the upcoming program will run from September 2017 through April 2018. With 50 students already enrolled, registration has closed for mentees.

Mentor registration is open now through August 15th, 2017. Professionals from all fields are encouraged to apply, and there is particular demand for mentors in the fields of Human Resources, Business, Accounting, Technology, Healthcare, Engineering, and Marketing.

Jonathan Ballmer, Lead Project Manager for Gardner Builders, was actively involved with Fuse Duluth’s College Connection, the precursor to Mentor Connection. He sees Mentor Connection as a valuable local opportunity to network professionally.

“Mentor Connection provides an opportunity to plant the seeds early in the effort to retaining and developing talent in our region,” said Ballmer. “This program will be a differentiator in further establishing relationships within our communities, as businesses across the country are competing for talent to backfill vacancies created by retiring Baby Boomers.”

More information on Mentor Connection can be found on Individuals interested in becoming a mentor can also contact Sara Mowchan at to learn more and sign up.

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