A new Moorhead business is selling the adventure and beauty of the great outdoors with the help of a couple of Concordia students. Nature of the North is a new startup that creates and markets adventure and outdoor experiences in the hopes of creating outdoor communities. A signature element is an indoor bouldering wall to get people acclimated to climbing.
As with any new business, marketing is key and funding is tight. That’s where skills came into play for Evan Hart ’23 and Samantha Dalsin ’21. The students signed on as interns through Concordia’s new Student Work, Student Learning program where the college pays for the internship opportunities in order to broaden student experiences and give smaller businesses a boost.
“Through the implementation of this program, students are benefitting from an increased number of paid internship opportunities,” says Kris Olson, Career Center director. “If not for this program, many of the internship experiences would not have been created or most likely would have been unpaid. Support for the Student Work, Student Learning program has allowed students to gain valuable experience and for Concordia to share gifts and talent with the local community.”
Nature of the North had only been around a few years when the pandemic hit. The pandemic caused issues for long-time thriving businesses and was potentially devastating for a new startup.
“We were in the middle of a shutdown when Concordia reached out about helping us find interns,” says Jon Walters, Nature of the North owner. “It honestly couldn’t have come at a better time, as it was an extremely difficult time for us and we just needed a win. Samm and Evan joining our team was the win we needed.”
The students got to dive right in and start learning about the business. In small businesses, having extra hands – and heads to bounce ideas off – is important. Dalsin says the freedom of working for a small business enhanced her learning experience.
“They trusted me to complete a lot of projects that I probably would have never had the opportunity to complete at a larger company,” Dalsin says. “It taught me how much I value a working environment like the one that Nature of the North has created.”
Walters says gaining two new creative minds was a huge asset for his team and in turn Nature of the North created a moldable learning space for the students.
“Being the sales and marketing intern at Nature of the North has been extremely rewarding and beneficial to my future career,” Hart says. “I have been able to learn how a small business operates and be a part of an amazing team.”
Hart says he had the opportunity to design brochures, posters, and flyers to help advertise the business while learning how the positions in the company were interconnected. He says the internship cemented his career goals.
“To be able to confirm that you’re going down the right path is so important and being able to gain experience is such a wonderful bonus,” Hart says.
And that’s exactly what Olson hopes and believes will happen during internships. Through experience and research, she and her team know students will have more opportunities if they have had an internship during college.
“Research shows that students with paid internship experiences receive nearly 50% more job offers than peers who had either an unpaid internship or no internship at all,” Olson says. “It is rewarding to hear how students had the opportunity to improve their professionalism, teamwork, communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills – all competencies employers are seeking and directly related to skills that will make them be ‘future ready.’”