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The Strommen Center team has worked with the regional economic development organization, GREATERMSP, over the past several years to support building access to opportunity for emerging talent. ConnextMSP is a new strategic initiative of GREATERMSP and is intended to continue to provide opportunities for alumni of college to career readiness programs like Genesys Works, Right Track, and Step Up. Lee George, Executive Director of the Strommen Center, is one of the co-captains of the early career intervention team.

This spring, ConnextMSP welcomed the first cohort of “Future of Work” Fellows. This talented group of young professionals of color will work with organizational leaders across the region to build and launch ConnextMSP, focused on transforming the early career system in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul (MSP) region. Two Augsburg University students, Gabriel Ijjo and Sumaiya Azeez, were selected to be members of this first cohort.


Augsburg student Gabriel IjjoGabriel Ijjo

B.A Political Science

Minor International Business & International Relations 2021

Ciresi Walburn Scholarship Cohort 2019

“I wanted to join the ConnextMSP Future of Work Fellowship for several reasons. One notable reason is the support and potential to develop great relationships with employers and leaders throughout Minnesota. The second reason is due to the opportunity for career building and being able to learn from others above me. Lastly, I wanted to join the fellowship because I know that this work will help to tear down the many barriers that impede BIPOC individuals today.”


Sumaiya Azeez

Augsburg student Samaiya Azeez


B.A Communications Studies, Minor Marketing, 2022

Certified Direct Support Professional, Genesis Group Homes

“I wanted to gain a mentorship experience while connecting and networking with the BIPOC community who is very underrepresented in the workforce and professional field. I would like to gain insight on ways I can contribute to helping overcome these barriers and give BIPOC an equal opportunity as well as a stepping stone into the professional world.”






The ConnextMSP Future of Work Fellowship is a leadership opportunity for young professionals launching their careers in MSP. During this 6-month paid professional experience, Fellows will help re-design early career recruiting, hiring, and onboarding practices in MSP. Fellows will expand their professional opportunities by building relationships with top employers in the region, and accessing tailored career development and mentorship.

Members of the ConnextMSP coalition — including top MSP employers, colleges and universities and career pathway programs — are working to address systemic barriers that young people of color face when launching their careers. Fellows will work alongside these organizations so their voices and perspectives are at the center of regional solutions to better recruit, hire and support thousands of their peers.


The Travelers Companies, Inc. Makes $50,000 Grant to Augsburg University 


EDGE Scholars

Minneapolis – The Travelers Companies, Inc. has provided Augsburg University with $50,000 to support the Travelers EDGE Scholars Program at Augsburg University.


Augsburg University has been participating in the Travelers EDGE Scholars Program since its creation in 2007. In the twelve years Augsburg University has participated in the Travelers EDGE Scholars Program, over 100 students have graduated from Augsburg University as EDGE Scholars.


EDGE Scholars benefit from a broad range of support services provided by The Travelers Companies, Inc., including: generous scholarship support, career and business advice, internships and job shadowing, and professional development workshops.


Travelers EDGE (Empowering Dreams for Graduation and Employment) provides a unique, holistic approach to education for underrepresented students. Through partnerships with colleges, universities and community-based organizations, Travelers EDGE increases access to higher education and provides students with opportunities to excel. The program helps students progress through middle and high school curriculum in preparation for post-secondary education, building a strong pipeline of future leaders to colleges and beyond. By increasing the number of students who complete post-secondary education, The Travelers Companies, Inc. helps communities to be successful in meeting their own demand for a skilled workforce, sustained economies and improved quality of life.


Current EDGE Scholar and Augsburg junior, Samantha Lopez, who just completed a summer internship at The Travelers Companies, Inc. said this about the program: “Travelers has opened so many doors for me. The financial assistance from my Travelers scholarship helps me to cover my academic expenses so I am able to focus on academics and participate in different leadership opportunities on campus. For my internship, Travelers offered me the opportunity to explore different work environments–both human resources and operations–so now I have a better idea of what kind of career I want to pursue after graduation. It was amazing to learn first-hand what goes on inside a corporation and find out I can do the work. Travelers has provided me with the support, skills and confidence I need to pursue a business career.”


The Travelers Companies, Inc. and Augsburg University have formed a longstanding partnership around their shared commitment to educating underrepresented students. Augsburg University is one of the most diverse colleges in the state of Minnesota. Augsburg University’s mission is to educate students to be informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers and responsible leaders.


In recent years top occupations in the region’s finance and insurance industry have grown by 5.9% and these employers are looking to engage with Augsburg University in order to recruit much-needed talent.

While 70% of employers recruit during the fall semester, only 15% do all of their recruiting during that time. There are still plenty of internship and job opportunities open and they are looking for students from a wide variety of degree programs. In fact some banks are considering themselves tech companies that happen to do banking. If you have not considered a career in the financial services industry you have a few opportunities in February to explore what your career pathway could look like.

Employers on Campus

Employees from four different financial institutions will be on campus to tell you about their professional career pathways, what it is like to work in their respective organizations, and what opportunities they have for you.

Tabling in Christensen Center

Thanks to the generous support for career readiness programming at Augsburg from the Wells Fargo Foundation.
  • Northwestern Mutual will be tabling in the lobby of Christensen Center on February 5, 10 AM – 12:30 PM
  • Wells Fargo will be tabling in the lobby of Christensen on February 19, 10 AM – 12:30 PM

Stop in to chat with their representatives.

Panel Discussion

You can get an in depth look into the Financial Services sector by attending the February 18th panel discussion with U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, Ameriprise Financial, and Northwestern Mutual. This panel will be moderated

by the director of Augsburg’s Urban Investors program, Mike Christenson. You can read his bio below. This conversation will be in the Marshall Room from 12 PM – 1:40 PM. Register on Handshake.

Find an Internship and Job

You can find additional opportunities and talk with more employers at the February 27th Minnesota Private College Career Fair at the Convention Center. Over 280 employers will be present. Through the support of the Wells Fargo Foundation this fair is free for students to attend and there will be a complimentary shuttle every 30 minutes leaving from Augsburg to the Convention Center. Go to Handshake to find more information and to register.

Mike Christenson Bio:

Mike Christenson serves as program director for the Urban Investors program at Augsburg University, a partnership with the Strommen Career Center for Meaningful Work and the Sabo Center. Mike has led workforce development at Hennepin County and Minneapolis College, served as director of the Minneapolis Department of Community Planning and Economic Development and at the Allina Foundation. Before that, he was a partner with the Popham Haik Law Firm and served as the chief executive of Metro Transit, where he led an effort to turn around a historic decline in ridership.

Mike has been president of the Citizens League and an organizer for partnerships that sought to lift up challenged neighborhoods like Phillips, Cedar Riverside and the Northside of Minneapolis. He has chaired the boards of LISC, the Day One Project, and St. Matthew’s church and has served on the boards of Sunrise Banks, the Community Reinvestment Fund, the Project for Pride in Living, St. Matthew’s, and Aeon Capital Campaigns.

Mike helped launch the Phillips Partnership, the Minnesota Justice Foundation, the Day One Project, Power of You, Hennepin Career Pathways, Team Transit, the State Fair Shuttle, Midtown Global Market, and the Cedar Riverside Opportunity Center. He played a lead role in City government on the Cedar Riverside Plaza renovation, the Coloplast headquarters, McPhail Music Center, the Fairview and Children’s Hospital expansions, and Close the Gap—a successful effort to close the unemployment gap between the City and the metro area.

Mike believes the true economic development aims at raising incomes by building earning capacity and wealth for immigrants and those left behind by economic forces. Minneapolis has proven that challenged neighborhoods and households can turn around. That is economic development and that, in Mike’s words, is truly “the Minneapolis Miracle”.

Making the most of Augsburg’s Career Fair

I came to the career fair to solidify my future career

Hasna Ali ‘20 said about the fall Career and Internship Fair, “I came to the career fair to solidify my future career and with all of the amazing employers I met today I believe I achieved that goal”. Nearly 200 of Hasna’s peers joined her to engage with employers like Best Buy, U.S. Bank, 3M, Travelers, and Wells Fargo to search for their next internship or job at the On-Campus Career and Internship Fair hosted by the Strommen Center for Meaningful Work and supported by the Wells Fargo Foundation. Employers at this career fair are intentional about partnering with the Strommen Center and recruiting Augsburg students. Many of the employers participate in programming and events throughout the year to provide additional value to students by hosting discussions about career choices, offering technical training, and providing helpful tips about interviewing. 

The career fair is also an opportunity for students to explore career options and open up additional possibilities they were not considering or did not even know about. Reggie Agyen-Boateng ‘21 reflected, “I came in looking for internships related to Sociology and I realized that I can apply the skills that I have learned in my Sociology courses in other disciplines such as Marketing or Human Resources”. Engaging with employers is one way that students are able to identify jobs they might be interested in. Alumni and professionals coming to campus to speak to students also helps students explore career options and understand how their degree can lead to many different types of jobs.

I learned how to represent myself

The Career and Internship Fair also helps students grow as individuals and practice new skills. Ma’Rissa Rowe ‘21 said “Not only did I learn about internship opportunities I learned how to represent myself and be more confident in front of employers”. For many students, this event is the first time they have to present themselves in a professional setting to other professionals. It can be an anxiety provoking experience as noted by Simone Rask ‘20 who said,  “I was super nervous at first, but I used the Strommen Center’s resources and prep video to prepare myself to give my best first impression to employers”. Following the Career and Internship Fair students completed 88 on-campus interviews for jobs and internships with these employers. For students who have an interview coming up they may want to take a look at the interview prep resources on the Strommen Center’s website (

Even though 71% of employers are recruiting right now for 2020 jobs and internships there is still time to find an opportunity. Visit Handshake to see open internships and job opportunities and mark February 27, 2020 for the Minnesota Private College Career Fair.

Scholar Perspectives

Vivieng Xiong ’14, Account Manager, Cox Insurance Associates


“Travelers EDGE is more than just a scholarship program. Through Travelers EDGE, I expanded my network, made a connection with a mentor, attended workshops to help prepare myself for life after college and obtained an internship. Being busy during college is inevitable, but Travelers EDGE provides the perfect balance to succeed.”

Vivieng Xiong ’14, Account Manager, Cox Insurance Associates




Dustina Granlund ’14, Project Administrator, Travelers


While other programs gave me the tools to graduate and the knowledge to find a career after college, Travelers EDGE brought it further by showing me how to apply what I had learned. Travelers EDGE also offered me the opportunity to apply for competitive internships only Scholars had access to. It was through those internships that I discovered what career paths I enjoyed and didn’t enjoy as much. These experiences led me to my current position at Travelers.

Dustina Granlund ’14, Project Administrator, Travelers




Maya Vue ’13, IT Agile Scrum Master, UnitedHealth Group


“One of the biggest challenges that I faced as a first-generation college student was not knowing what to expect after college. Travelers EDGE provided me with mentoring, networking, and development opportunities to prepare me for a career within the financial services industry. I had many supporters in the program who wanted me to succeed and who provided me with the right tools to get me to where I wanted to be.”

Maya Vue ’13, IT Agile Scrum Master, UnitedHealth Group

The Travelers Companies, Inc. – Travelers Edge Scholars

Augsburg University is a Travelers Empowering Dreams for Graduation and Employment (EDGE) partner institution and has been awarded a substantial grant to support the following goals:

  • Increase the pipeline of underrepresented students to the University
  • Help students from underrepresented communities complete a bachelor’s degree
  • Build awareness of careers in the insurance and financial services industry

Travelers EDGE® supports a cohort of students at Augsburg each year with professional development opportunities and scholarships of up to $12,500.

We are not currently accepting applications for Travelers EDGE, please check back in December  2023.


As the company’s signature education program, Travelers EDGE provides a holistic approach to education through partnerships with colleges and universities, as well as community-based programs, to increase the pipeline of underrepresented students who complete bachelor’s degrees and prepare them for a career at Travelers or in the insurance and financial services industry.

Travelers EDGE Scholars benefit from a broad range of support services including financial support, career and business advice from Travelers employees, internships and job shadowing, and professional development workshops.

Programming for the scholars has included:

  • A mentorship with a Travelers employee
  • Events at Travelers (job shadowing, Professional Development Institute)
  • Financial literacy programming
  • Career exploration focused on the insurance and financial services industry, in which scholars work on resume development, skills assessments, informational interviews, networking, etc.
  • One-on-one meetings with career coaches in the Strommen Career and Internship Services office
  • Opportunities to give back to the community and share personal stories with St. Paul youth