WE+YOU Student Immersion Experience brought nearly 50 students to the South Bend – Elkhart region to learn of opportunities


SOUTH BEND, Ind. (March 26, 2024) – The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership held the inaugural WE+YOU Student Immersion Experience March 21-22 across the South Bend – Elkhart region. The multi-day initiative to attract talent by highlighting what the region has to offer brought college students from around the Midwest to experience life in the area.

“Our region is home to roughly 33,000 college students each year,” said Bethany Hartley, President and CEO of the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership. “We are creating the connections and opportunities that allow the students to see their future here in the South Bend – Elkhart region, combatting the dreaded ‘brain drain.’”

The event was part of the Regional Partnership’s WE+YOU initiative, focused on intentional talent attraction and retention in the region. Participants were STEM students, both from regional colleges Andrews University, Goshen College, Holy Cross College, Ivy Tech Community College, and the University of Notre Dame, as well as Midwest schools Purdue Fort Wayne, Trine University, University of Cincinnati, and Wabash College. More than 80 students applied for the 50 available seats.

The event kicked off with a dinner at Aloft South Bend on Thursday evening, with a greeting from Mayor Mueller. On Friday, the students visited the Studebaker Building meeting with representatives from enFocus to learn about the organization and the opportunities available through the Regional Internship Program. The day continued in Elkhart, with a tour of Grand Design Recreational Vehicles given by CEO Don Clark, followed by a visit to the Elkhart River District to join Levon Johnson of the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce and Jon Hunsberger of the Elkhart County Convention & Visitors Bureau to see the Elkhart Aquatic Center, and the tour of the weIMPACT offices with founder Dave Weaver and Mike Huber from the City of Elkhart. The students then headed to Mishawaka for lunch at the Carnegie event space with Mayor Dave Wood. The day wrapped up with a “pitch competition” at the IDEA Center at the University of Notre Dame, where representatives from 1st Source Bank, the City of South Bend, enFocus, Grand Design Recreational Vehicles, Viewrail, and the University of Notre Dame pitched their organization’s internship and career opportunities.

“From a San Diegan, California, kind of perspective, Indiana is middle of nowhere,” said Sophia Cheng, a California native studying Mechanical Engineering Technology at Purdue Fort Wayne. “I didn’t know what’s here except for corn, but there’s a lot of industries here. There’s some really, really cool stuff. I’ve got flyers from everywhere. I’m going to be talking to a couple employers seeing if I’ve got an opportunity to do something here that I can’t do in San Diego.”

The event was free for students, with sponsorship from the Winnebago Foundation, 1st Source Bank, Aunalytics, enFocus, ITAMCO, and Universal Bearings. The Regional Partnership plans to hold another WE+YOU Student Immersion Experience in fall of 2024.


About South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership
The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership seeks to unify and collaborate so that together, the communities across the region to work together to achieve what cannot be done individually. For more information about the Regional Partnership, visit SouthBendElkhart.org.