Success Stories

MJP is proud of our Job Partners Alumni - these folks have trained to increase their skillsets, had the courage to ask for help when they needed it, and re-trained for entirely new careers!

Your successes keep us committed to bringing our very best to the office each and every day. May these stories also serve to inspire others still in transition.

If you would like to share your story as inspiration to others experiencing a layoff, let your Career Counselor know!

Image by Miguel Bruna
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Zariyah’s Success:

Persisting with Beauty

I am Zariyah.  Wife and mother of three beautiful children.  Fully employed in a cosmetology career I love.  My job search motto: Never compromise for anything less than you deserve.


Let’s be real.  Losing a job is tough.  The journey back into the workforce isn’t easy, especially during a pandemic.  But with Minnesota Job Partners, you’re not alone.

I was laid off as a cosmetology instructor.  On the last day of 2020, I took my final walk around the Minnesota School of Cosmetology before relinquishing my key cards.  

The Plymouth location was closing permanently due to COVID-19.

Everything was uncertain.  Would I need to start over with a new career?  Scrap the 26 years of passion I had invested in cosmetology?  I figured that I would be at the bottom of the food chain with record unemployment and most businesses shutdown.


Fortunately, I took the advice of a co-worker and called the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).  They connected me with my counselor at Minnesota Job Partners – and the hope began.  The enrollment process was easy and the people I spoke with helped me figure out my next move.  No one made any false promises while my application was being processed.  I liked that because the words "promise" or "normal" became obsolete during COVID-19.


While I waited for light to shine – whether red or green – I took free classes and connected with others who, like me, were at square one.  I realized that I made the right choice to stand up for my career.  My situation: I was 43-years old and I felt it was too late to change careers or settle for any job that crossed my path.  So my counselor and I spoke about going back to school for the last certification that would complete my cosmetology license.  I remember getting the phone call approval for the tuition and how the rain of hope trickled down my entire being!  That was another confirmation that I was on the right career path. 


As I navigated through school, I connected well with my counselor, Kate.  She became my cheerleader, mentor, and accountability partner.  Our monthly check-ins and the informational classes I received from her were a comfort, a help, and often a comic relief from the icky world outside.  It was easy to keep her in the loop and share the triumphs and fears as I finalized my program.  My greatest challenges I reported to her and without hesitation she gave me options.  


A month before I graduated, I began applying for jobs again in hopes that there was something out there stable enough to hire me.  I landed three interviews and incidentally landed three job offers.  Excited and panicked all at once, I contacted my counselor for guidance.  She helped me narrow it down to my current dream job: Cosmetology Classroom and Clinic Floor Instructor at the women’s prison in Shakopee.  It’s a full-time state position complete with benefits.  A role that will utilize my teaching skills and grace me with opportunities to lead, write, network with other schools, and develop programs to their full potential.

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Fong’s Success:

From Steel Worker to Web Designer

by Fong Vang

It's been a little over a year since I was laid off.  I worked at a steel mill, where I thought I would stay for a while because the job paid a decent living wage.  But we experienced a mass layoff due to lack of demand for steel.  I was unsure about what my future would look like.  Sure, I was going to receive some financial help through unemployment benefits and severance pay.  But "What’s next?” I thought to myself.

One door closed, quite literally, and another door opened.

Shortly after, I was introduced to my career counselor, Kate Flick. 

She has been superb in our journey to redefine my future career.  She helped me find what I was passionate about and re-sparked my interest in continuing my education.  After going through a few workshops, she suggested I enroll in the University of Minnesota's Coding Bootcamp. I took the full-time course and after three months, I received my Full-Stack Web Development certificate.


During the next few months, I started applying for jobs in my new IT career field.  Kate helped me polish my LinkedIn profile and Christine Chelstrom helped me polish my résumé.  They connected me with some important people, who helped me land my next job.  I will be paid to take a nine-week B2E (Barriers to Entry) Tech Training course with York Solutions.  Then I’ll be working for their clients under a one-year contract with the option to stay longer if I choose.  This is the perfect opportunity to get my feet in the door while creating experience and continually improving my IT skills.


I am happy and grateful to these wonderful individuals who got me to where I need to be.  Most importantly, I want to give a huge thanks to Minnesota Job Partners and the Dislocated Worker Program for helping people in need, such as myself.  Without that help, I might still be working at another dead-end job.  Thank you for putting your trust in me!


Deb's Success:
Beating Ageism in Job Search

by Deb

When COVID-19 hit, Deb was laid off from a law firm, where she worked at the front desk as an administrative assistant, receptionist, and legal assistant.  As an older worker, Deb was worried about finding her next job. 

We know age discrimination happens in the hiring process. 

If you’re over age 40 it can happen to you.  Employers often worry that older workers will be less dependable due to age-related health issues.  Some employers think older workers are unable to adapt to change and have a steep learning curve when it comes to technology.  Others think older workers expect high salaries and are overqualified.


At Minnesota Job Partners, we help mature workers beat ageism in their job search.  We teach you to debunk negative stereotypes about older workers and focus on the attributes you bring to the job.  In Deb’s case, she is loyal, reliable, and professional with proven experience and a strong work ethic.  She works hard and gets the job done right.  She shows up on time and doesn’t job jump.  She generously shares her knowledge and experience with younger team members.


Deb’s goal was to work in a similar front desk position with lots of people contact and an opportunity to make a difference and earn more money.  She got the job she was searching for, thanks to her determination.


Deb’s career counselor, Meg, became her champion and motivator.  Together they decided that Deb should brush up on her computer skills.  Deb enrolled with the Metro East Pathways program and earned a Microsoft Office Suite certificate.  That accomplishment shows that Deb has mastered Word, Outlook, and Teams.  Doing coursework virtually wasn’t easy, but it pushed Deb to use Zoom and learn how to participate in online webinars.


Deb dedicated her time and energy to becoming more marketable.  She attended Minnesota Job Partners’ Career Exploration and Hidden Job Market workshops.  She also joined our Job Clubs and learned how to network.  She polished her résumé and virtual interviewing skills with help from our experts.


Our mock interview set Deb up for success.  She was prepared to confidently answer all the questions during her first and second interviews with Cat Ziegler, where she accepted a position as a sales coordinator.  On hindsight, Deb says “I really understand that an employer hires someone they like.”


Deb loves her new job.  She is working close to home and earning $4 more an hour.  She sent this note to Meg after her first week as a sales coordinator: “I love my job!  I love the culture!  People say thank you, and even after such a short time, I really feel appreciated.”


Deb put in her best efforts and it paid off.  Her co-workers appreciate her, they value her knowledge and experience.  As a mature worker, Deb is excited to stick with Cat Ziegler until she retires.

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Thomas’s Success:
Earning More with an IT Career

By Thomas Buol


I find it difficult to succinctly express the full blessing that the Dislocated Worker program provided me.  I had no idea that this program existed, but now I can't stop telling people about it.  


It started for me when I was laid off from a medical device manufacturer, where I had been working in customer service for several years.  Thankfully, the company brought in Minnesota Job Partners and I met with my career counselor, Kate.  I try not to over-dramatize events in my life, but that meeting changed my life.  

I had been thinking about going back to school for many years, but finances and time were the main obstacles.  I can still distinctly recall that first meeting with Kate.  She encouraged me to enter the program, which would pay for my schooling.  She patiently answered all my questions on numerous occasions.  She instilled in me confidence that I could complete my bachelor’s degree in Information Technology at Metro State University.  


The next two years seemed to go by in a blink.  I pushed myself to learn as much as I could and to get the most out of my schooling.  I was aware that this wasn't my money, so I didn't want to let anyone down.  Throughout that whole process, Kate stayed on as my counselor.  She went above and beyond to help me.


After I graduated, Kate recommended IT jobs and I ended up getting one of them.  I am now employed at a company using the exact skills I learned through my schooling.  On top of that, I am now making more money than I ever have.    


Whenever I think about this opportunity, I am so grateful.  A true gift from God.  If anyone is hesitant to enroll, I encourage them to ask questions.  You may even ask yourself, what is the catch?  I know I did.  The truth is, there isn't one.

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Jessica's Success:
Pursuing a Human Resources Career

By Jessica Adolph

The pandemic adversely affected the corporate travel industry, so as much as I loved my company, I knew my chances of having a job at the end of my furlough were very low.  I decided to take this opportunity to switch to a human resources career, since I had contemplated it the past few years.


I enrolled in the Dislocated Worker program and attended the Career Exploration and Discovery workshop, which validated that HR is right for me and I wanted to get into the medical device industry.  I also attended the 6-Week Get Hired Faster course that shows how to successfully go about the entire job search process in an easy and organized format.


At the same time, I also enrolled in a 3-month class for an HR certification.  The day I passed my HR certification exam, I was invited to interview for a job at Abbott.  Exactly one week after my first interview, I accepted a job offer for an HR Coordinator within Abbott’s medical device division with a higher salary than my last job!

I am so grateful for the funding provided to obtain HR certification and professional association memberships.  Thanks to Christine Chelstrom for her expert résumé review, mock interview practice and reaching out to recruiters on my behalf.  Huge shout-out and special thanks to my stellar career counselor, Kate Flick, for her extraordinary knowledge and sound counsel regarding everything I ever asked her.


Job search can be very stressful, but Minnesota Job Partners helps to demystify the process from start to finish.  They provide tools, training, and support to get you through the challenges of job search.  I appreciate their workshops and insights about networking, résumés, interviewing, negotiations, and so many other topics.  I highly recommend enrolling with Minnesota Job Partners to help make your job search more successful.  The only question to ask is why would you not take advantage of such an invaluable resource?

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Barney's Success:
Connecting to Technology

By Robert “Barney” Barnwell

I was registering patients for a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at a church in South Minneapolis.  The WiFi signal was very weak in the basement where we had setup the clinic.  Our first patients would start visiting soon, so I jumped in right away to see how I could help. 


Clinics need WiFi to register our patients, connect them with interpreters, and document who has had their shots.  After a bit of troubleshooting, I remembered that I had received a technology bundle (laptop + headphones + hotspot) from Minnesota Job Partners.  I got the hotspot from my car and we quickly connected our computers to the Internet.  We were able to have a successful clinic that day.  Everyone involved was very thankful that I had this resource with me.

I enrolled in the Dislocated Worker program on August 10, 2020 with my career counselor, Meg.  During the pandemic, I was furloughed from the Guthrie Theater, where I had worked as a master stagehand.  I’m thankful for the workshops and especially enjoyed Career Exploration with Esther.  The Gallup Strengths Finder was a very informative exercise.  After that workshop, I got more active on LinkedIn, where I connected with the company that hired me to work at the clinics.  The course with Esther and conversations with Meg helped me understand myself, my likes, and my dislikes as I navigate career choices.  I appreciate how Meg is a great sounding board.  She is always happy to provide timely and current answers to my questions.


I continue to appreciate the connections and resources from my career counselor and Minnesota Job Partners.  They have allowed me to realize other job possibilities and strengths, which I likely would have never discovered before.  It has been a fantastic experience to work in vaccine sites and quickly learn how to register patients and update their medical records. 

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Tiona's Success:
Discovering Her Passion

By Tiona White


For years I was working meaningless jobs without a serious plan for my future career. Working as an Attendant for the University of Minnesota was an amazing opportunity for me.  I worked with great people and had the support of a caring team.  Prior to that I was a cook for various restaurants.  


The University usually takes a 3-week winter break, but this year they extended it to 7-weeks due to the pandemic.  Imagine 7 weeks without a paycheck!  That is when I woke up and realized I did not have a career.  I needed new goals, challenges, and a career with stability.  This shutdown at the University really kicked everything into gear.  I enrolled with Minnesota Job Partners and got to work with my counselor.


Together my counselor and I explored what I would want in my career.  Something I’m both interested and passionate about.  I attended several workshops to discover my career.  I had never felt so secure in such an unsure time in my life.  My counselor’s guidance and reassurance were everything I needed to get through this devastating time.  With my newfound interest in the medical field, I worked with my counselor to determine the best place to get my feet wet.  Phlebotomy – puncturing a person’s vein to withdraw blood or introduce a fluid – wasn’t something that came to me, but to my counselor.  She knew me very well and suggested I might enjoy it.

With the help of Minnesota Job Partners, I received financial aid to train for my new career.  I studied and made sure I understood everything I was learning during my 4-week training.  I passed the exam!   While I was training, my counselor helped me job search with a professional résumé.  I was grateful to be in training during the 7-week shutdown, but my anxiety was a problem.  I was worrying about being able to support myself in this pandemic.  My counselor helped me receive rental assistance, and even helped me with my groceries.  I was so stressed and feeling hopeless, but she reminded me every day why I can’t give up.


During the three months I was in the program, I completed Phlebotomy courses, got career coaching, professional résumé help, and extra assistance during the pandemic.  I went from working jobs I wasn’t passionate about – earning $13 to $15.60 an hour – to having a career I’m passionate about and happy to do every day.


With my new title of Laboratory Care Technician, I’m earning $18 to $30 an hour.  I feel somewhat free, inspired to complete more of my career goals.  This is the beginning to a very exciting future.  

My career counselor, Esther, helped me find happiness in my own life, she pushed me to explore what I really want for my life.  After thinking and researching endlessly, I know my purpose is to help others.  My drive to help others comes from the people close to me – my family and friends.  They inspire me to become a better me every day as I find more ways to incorporate the things I care about into my career.

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Hans's Success:
Transitioning from Job Into Career

Hans Accola is a Junior Web Application Developer at Home and Local Services.  His transition from unstable jobs into a rewarding career took only 8 months.   


Hans was laid off from DJO, a global provider of orthopedic devices.  He had worked there for 18 months, starting in records and ending in customer service.  Before that he had worked several short-term jobs in construction, retail, online currency, and other service-related positions.


After losing his job, Hans did warehouse and office work for low pay.  Because he was laid off from a company that had jobs affected by overseas commerce, he was eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA).  He came back into the Dislocated Worker Program and together with his counselor embarked on a journey to find a career.


It is hard for a young person to build a life on unstable jobs.  Hans was looking for a stable career that comes with living wages, a predictable schedule, and job security.

With guidance from his career counselor, Hans chose to pursue a career in technology.  Technology workers have been in demand in Minnesota’s economy for a long time.  The median hourly wage for tech occupations was $42.71 an hour in 2020.  Today the field is filled with experience-based positions that pay well and require only a certification or associates degree.   


Hans knew it would take education and training to prepare for a technology career.

He enrolled in Full Stack Engineering Training with Prime Digital Academy.  After graduation, he began searching for junior-level IT positions. 


Minnesota Job Partners helped Hans land his first tech role.  Our job developer ensured his résumé would rise to the top with applicant-tracking software used by hiring managers.  Since Hans chose an in-demand career, it didn’t take long for him to get hired. 


The transition paid off for Hans.  He got a raise with a salary that pays much more than his previous jobs.  He knows this is only the beginning.  He is motivated to upskill and build a lasting career with his new company.

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Audra’s Success:
Creating a new brand for Black girls

Audra Robinson is an amazing entrepreneur whose success will inspire you. After losing her job as a marketing manager, she enrolled in our program and polished her digital marketing skills at St. Thomas. Then she entered the CLIMB program, which empowered her to be her own boss.  


Her small business startup won the coveted Impact Award from Finnovation Lab.

Audra created “Rocky Robinson,” a brand of personal care products that foster self-worth and inspire black girls to reach their potential. Proceeds from the sale of Rocky products will send young black women to college so they can learn to manifest their own success.

Audra’s cohort at Lunar Startups is helping her launch her company. In Lunar’s words, “The thing is, you’re awesome!  Your company is awesome. And we think you’re going to change not only our community but the world.”


Steve’s Success:

Reaching his potential through training

Steve puts his program successes best in his own words:

"I was an employee at Cambridge Metals and Plastics for 16 years before our company was purchased by an investment group. Kate Flick was chosen as my representative to assist me in setting up schooling and other tools that would be made available for the next two years.

"Kate was a great help when it came to setting up my schooling at Pine Technical College in Pine City, Minnesota. While attending school on a full-time basis, I was able to retain my unemployment benefits which allowed me to financially survive and later succeed in my classroom studies.

"My final 3.86 GPA was the result of hard work, dedication, and the encouragement by Kate and all my teachers. I am truly grateful there is a Dislocated Worker Program that helped me get over a negative time in my life and turn it into a real positive."

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For Judy's services, contact her at:


Judy’s Success:
Becoming her own boss

Judy Praska came into the Dislocated worker program after resigning from her job as the executive director for a non-profit organization. She ventured into the franchise world and worked with a franchise broker to find the best fit.


She is now the owner of Fastest Labs of Bloomington.

Fastest Labs is a drug, alcohol and DNA testing company.

"The easiest way to explain our company is that we have

three buckets/areas we service:


Business - we do pre-employment, random, post-accident and breath alcohol.

Personal - we can test for drugs in your child and spouse, make sure you are going to pass your pre-employment, paternity, infidelity and detect unknown substances

Healthy Lifestyle - we have three tests:


Healthy Weight - Tells you how you should eat, how you should exercise, and what nutrients your body needs based on your DNA.

Food & Pet Sensitivity - Tells you what foods and/or pets you are “sensitive to” (not allergic) again based on your DNA.

Skincare - Comprehensive analysis of the genetic markers that influence skin’s potential.


"A big thanks to [my Career Counselor] Robby Sanders who has been amazing on her follow-up."


Sharon's Success:

On-the-job training into her new career

Sharon was in long term employment with Integrated Health Care. When she came into the program, she was very nervous because she had not interviewed for a job in a long time. We worked on her interviewing skills and she gained more confidence in her ability to be herself and showcase her many talents. Sharon worked with our job developer, Christine Chelstrom to assist in networking and getting her resume a second look. With help from our team she was able to utilize our On-The-Job-Training subsidy to help her pivot as an administrative professional.

Her employer had this to say: “Sharon started working on the training and qualification files for the workers a couple weeks ago and really has learned a lot. She’s just a wonderful addition to our group. I can’t say enough about how much she fits in here.”

Sharon’s words: “Thank you for all your help and the OJT program that helped my new employer out too! I'm glad they are happy with my work as I am very happy working for them as well!”

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Heidi’s Success:
Landing her dream job during COVID-19

Heidi had always dreamed of becoming an epidemiologist. Last week her dream came true. 


Heidi began a new job with the Minnesota Department of Health, where she uses real-time hospital data to better respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and the drug overdose epidemic. She’s working from home while saving lives.

Heidi credits her success to our Dislocated Worker Program and her tireless career counselor, Kate Flick. After two months of professional training at New Horizons Computer Learning Center, Heidi rose to the top of the candidate pool. Her new credentials got the hiring manager’s attention and coaching helped her nail the interview.

Losing a job is painful. But Heidi's story is proof that with dreams and determination, job seekers can transition to a new and rewarding career.  Heidi did, and you can, too.