The stories below offer just a few examples of the determination and hard work of HIRED’s program participants. As you read them, you’ll note the collaborative nature of HIRED’s services. We work with a wide array of nonprofit organizations, educational institutions and public agencies to provide job seekers—like those below—with the assistance they need to meet their employment and training goals.
Keilano: “Now It’s Time for Someone to Do Something Nice for Her”
Keilano is one of six children who grew up in north Minneapolis. After his parents separated at a young age, Keilano’s mother became the primary caregiver for Keilano and his brothers and sisters.
Living on a single income and raising six children proved challenging for Keilano’s mother. While Keilano was still in high school, his mother moved into a homeless shelter and sent Keilano and his two younger siblings to live with his aunt and three cousins. Keilano gratefully recalls the time spent with his extended family as fun, but chaotic.
“There was a lot going on,” he describes. “There were six kids running around that house and they all wanted attention. It was hard to focus on school and work.”
Several months after successfully graduating from high school, Keilano was bouncing back and forth between his aunt’s home and his friends’ couches until he learned about an opening at Nicollet Square Apartments in south Minneapolis. Nicollet Square Apartments provide affordable housing for young adults experiencing homelessness, and provides a variety of supportive services.
Because Keilano did not have steady employment at the time, he was connected with HIRED’s Work Fast program. His HIRED employment counselor helped him search for jobs, fill out applications and network with his friends. Keilano has a natural talent for connecting with children. With the help of his counselor, he found employment at the YMCA’s after school program.
After almost one year of part-time work, Keilano’s supervisor remained pleased with his talents and excellent work ethic, and offered him full-time employment. Keilano describes his job as, “really tiring, but a lot of fun.”
Since high school, Keilano has wanted to pursue a career in the construction and remodeling industry, and has discussed career and education opportunities with his HIRED employment counselor. His counselor helped him explore several schools in the area, and after reviewing his options, he decided on a two-year construction management program at Dunwoody College of Technology.
With the skills he learns at Dunwoody, he hopes to build two homes – one for himself and one for his mother. “She gave so much to me and my brothers and sisters. Now it’s time for somebody to do something nice for her.”
Jeni: “My Major Motivation is My Children”
In January 2011, Jeni decided that she wanted to get her GED. Her eleven year old daughter had been telling her that she needed to go back to school and get her diploma. While pursuing her GED at Carver-Scott Educational Cooperative, Jeni enrolled in health care career classes offered by the school. Jeni had always wanted to be a nurse and her 8 year old son has a medical condition which requires 24-hour-a-day nursing care. She was motivated not only to get her GED, but to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse, so that she could be better informed about the 24-hour care that her son requires.
With her basic skills in place, she entered the FastTRAC Nursing Assistant and Trained Medication Aide training programs. The programs are provided in collaboration by five local ABE providers (including Carver-Scott), Hennepin Technical College and HIRED. The programs are funded through a grant from the Minnesota FastTRAC initiative.
After finishing her FastTRAC classroom training, Jeni completed her clinicals at a local assisted living facility. The facility was so pleased with her abilities that they offered her a job as a Nursing Assistant. Jeni loves her work and is now enrolled in college classes at Hennepin Technical College while working full time.
Jeni says “My major motivation is my children. They need to see that education is important and that their mother values education.” One year after entering the Healthcare Careers program, Jeni was invited to speak about her experience in the FastTRAC program with Lucinda Jesson, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services. Jeni spoke eloquently about her experience and emphasized the need for this type of program for others who had the desire to attend college but lacked the prior education and support to pursue their dream.
Dan: “M-Powered” for a New Career
After being successively laid off from two positions in the printing industry, Dan was determined to gain new job skills in a high-demand career field. In May of 2011, he entered the M-Powered program—which trains individuals for jobs in a number of high-demand manufacturing specialties—and pursued training as a clean room technician. While training he worked several part time jobs to support himself and attended HIRED’s employability skills training classes. After graduating from M-Powered in January 2012, Dan quickly gained employment with a large, local medical device manufacturer.
Patrick: Moving Forward with Confidence
December 9th, 2010 was a very bad day for Patrick Barrett. First, at his doctor’s appointment, Patrick was told that he needed a biopsy for possible cancer. When he returned to work from the doctor’s office, he was told that due to outsourcing, his position as a Business Analyst at a local corporation was being eliminated.
These were not the first challenges that Patrick has had to overcome in his life. Patrick was born legally blind, learning Braille while in elementary school and furthering his education after high school by obtaining his BS degree in communications from Boise State University. Patrick, like many blind people, had difficulty finding a job due to misconceptions about the ability of someone who is blind to be a productive worker. In fact, according to Independence Inc., 65 to 70 percent of people with significant visual impairments today are either unemployed or underemployed. Patrick overcame these daunting challenges and had a successful twelve year career at his previous employer.
After he was laid off, Patrick— like thousands of other dislocated workers— came to HIRED for help in May of 2011. He completed a wide range of workshops at HIRED. This includes sessions on resume writing, creating a personal brand, how to stretch finances and the StrengthsFinder system for capitalizing on your strengths. Through grant funds from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, HIRED also helped Patrick with his major medical bills, rent and education expenses.
In June of 2011 Patrick underwent cancer surgery at the Mayo Clinic and in September was declared cancer free. With HIRED’s help Patrick completed a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt training program, and is currently working on a project that will earn him full Six Sigma certification. In addition, Patrick started on-line classes in September, 2011 through Normandale College for Health Information Technology (HIT) certification. Patrick is hopeful that this six-month long certificate program will allow him to obtain a position, upon graduation, as a Business Analyst in a hospital or care center.
In spite of all of the challenges that he has faced, Patrick continues to be upbeat and positive about his job search. According to Patrick, “HIRED has helped me immensely. My employment counselor, Anita, has been wonderful and I am very grateful for the services that I have received and continue to receive from HIRED.
Nicole: Finding Her Passion
Nicole was a single mother on public assistance, struggling to find permanent employment in a tough economy. Without a GED or recent work experience, she was finding job search extremely difficult. She was referred to HIRED’s volunteer work experience program funded by Dakota County in March of 2011, and began volunteering at an organization that assists senior citizens that same month.
Nicole spent 24 weeks volunteering at the organization, discovering her abilities and gaining new skills. She then entered HIRED’s supported work program in Dakota County. As part of that program, she completed additional training in soft skills and work readiness, and then completed a paid work experience opportunity at a local nonprofit organization serving individuals with disabilities. After her internship, she was offered a permanent staff position. Through her volunteer work experience and paid internship, Nicole not only landed a job: she gained a career that capitalizes on her own unique strengths and talents.
Ryan: Cooking Up a Bright Future
“I thought I would never be able to live a normal life,” said Ryan.
“I woke up some days thinking there was no point of even trying anymore because nothing was going my way. I had no home or family, and couldn’t get or hold down a job. I had stopped caring about myself, others and my future.”
After Ryan found a home and supportive services at St. Barnabas, an apartment building operated by Aeon for formerly homeless and at-risk youth, he connected with HIRED youth counselor Tara Carlson. Tara provided Ryan with work readiness training and placed him in an internship with chef Jeff Riley, who is affectionately known as “Chef Jeff”. The program is supported by the Minneapolis Employment and Training Program.
“I have learned so much about the culinary arts field, life in general and about becoming a man,” said Ryan. “I’m very thankful for the internship opportunity that was given to me by Tara at HIRED and I see only good things coming in my future.”
Julia: Building a Solid Foundation, One Goal at a Time
Julia, 20 and a high school graduate, came to HIRED in May 2011. She is enrolled in the Young Parents Program, which is funded by Ramsey County Workforce Solutions and assists individuals as they transition from public assistance to employment. Amy Stieve is her employment counselor. Before coming to HIRED, Julia had struggled with homelessness.
“Amy has been wonderful. She takes the time to help me and give me support. She also led me to Adrian Shaheed at HIRED,” said Julia. Adrian’s roundtable training sessions at HIRED’s office in east St. Paul helped her brush up on her communication skills - both verbal and non-verbal. With her new skills in place, Julia landed her current job at a restaurant, where she’s developing work experience and references for the future.
Julia also recently received her driver’s license, and she’s looking forward to college, where she’ll major in human services. She continues to meet with Amy, who in her role as a HIRED employment counselor, has helped many other young parents achieve their education and career goals.
Noble: Creating a Sustainable Career, and World
Noble became a HIRED client in July of 2011 after his job of 10 years in the IT field ended. He went to the WorkForce Center in Brooklyn Park and met with HIRED’s Marie Zwack. He enrolled in a program for dislocated workers funded by Hennepin County. Through the program, Marie encouraged Noble to create an education plan that would help him meet his long term goals.
Noble saw a brochure on the Green Specialist training program in the lobby of the WorkForce Center and according to Noble, “The program really hit home for me. I was concerned about sustainability of the environment, especially in Third World countries and knew that this was a program that would expand my knowledge of environmental issues.” The Green Specialist program was funded by the U.S. Department of Labor and offered through a partnership with the BlueGreen Alliance.
Noble enrolled in the Green Specialist program and attended classes in the areas of fundamental principles, solid waste, energy efficiency, chemical use, air pollution and sustainability programs that were all targeted to experienced professionals so that they could learn how to apply green principles to the workplace. In addition to the Green Specialist classes, Noble also enrolled in a series of Leadership and Retention classes offered by HIRED and funded by the Greater Twin Cities United Way. Noble said, “I found the content in the leadership series valuable and knew that it would help me become a better leader and employee.”
While attending the workshop series, Noble continued to look for employment and in December of 2011 he applied for—and obtained—a position in the IT field. Noble said, “Were it not for HIRED and the opportunities they gave me, I probably wouldn’t have gotten this job.”
Even after starting his position in January 2012, Noble still wanted to attend the final leadership class on “Diversity and Teamwork” so that he could complete his Leadership certificate. His new employer allowed Noble to take time off of work to attend his final leadership class, and Noble received his Leadership and Retention certificate. He spoke to all of the class participants about how this series of classes will be of great help to him in his career.
Noble feels that the Green Specialist classes and the Leadership and Retention classes were incredibly valuable to him. He said, “In the future I know I will be able to apply the skills I learned to make a difference in Third World countries who are struggling with environmental issues. HIRED’s name stands for what they do for people. They get people HIRED.”