On Feb. 4, 15 senior high school students from Nashwauk-Keewatin, Greenway, and Grand Rapids High Schools began paid, for high school credit, internships with nine local manufacturing businesses in northern Minnesota.
As a result of three years of design work between local high schools, community colleges, and regional businesses – the Itasca Area Schools Collaborative Career Pathways program has begun offering internships to Career Pathway students interested in Manufacturing. This first cohort of students will be working in businesses between Hibbing and Cohasset to get a first-hand insight into the career field they are pursuing. This course is the capstone experience in the Manufacturing Career Pathway. Students in the pathway have taken courses that prepared them for this experience such as welding and fabrication, machining, engineering, CAD, production management and others. Students interns will spend the afternoons either in a career seminar with Nashwauk-Keewatin instructor Joe Gabardi or out on placement at their job site working directly in the field. Participating businesses for the 2020 course include ISCO, L&M Radiator, Midwest Manufacturing, Zakobe, ASV, Swan Machine, Rox Speed FX, Northland Machine, and Dakota Fluid Power.
The purpose of a career pathway is to provide guidance and experiences to students while they are in high school that helps them have confidence in their decisions in post-high school planning. For Itasca Area Schools, Career Pathways is also about addressing workforce shortages in the region and connecting students interested in these needed fields to local businesses so that they can form their own professional networks. The idea is that students will know the abundance of great career options here and, hopefully, if they decide to stay or come back to northern Minnesota to work, they will already have established relationships to build off of. Career Pathways introduce students to career fields, help them gain the skills to be successful in the career of their choosing, and also provide hands-on experiences like the Internship program so they see first-hand what it’s like to work in that field.
On Jan. 15, the Manufacturing Internship students and businesses gathered at Timberlake Lodge in Grand Rapids to complete a workplace workshop where participants discussed what it will take to be successful as an intern and what a good internship experience for an employer and student looks like. After the workshop, students and employers signed training agreements outlining the details of the internship course. The signing event was a celebration for students, teachers, businesses, and the community and marked the start of many more exciting opportunities to come to the region.
This program is made possible due to funding from the Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation and The Blandin Foundation.