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!

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Joanne’s Success:

Finding Mentors and Role Models

By Joanne Hager

I couldn’t go through another layoff as a tradeswoman and breadwinner.  My mental health and my bank account couldn’t handle it.  While I loved my work as a construction laborer, I had to find a more stable career with higher wages to sustain my family.  A friend introduced me to Teamsters Service Bureau | Minnesota Job Partners.  She learned about them at a job fair and encouraged me to reach out.

I attended orientation right away and was blessed to be paired with Shelley Jensen-Decker as my Career Counselor.  She taught me to job hunt with clarity and confidence.  Through assessments and exercises, we narrowed my search to a few career choices.  First, I gravitated to my comfort zone: construction code compliance. The Dislocated Worker Program helped me achieve certification required to work in that field.

But without a four-year degree, I quickly discovered that code compliance jobs didn’t pay enough to support my family, so I kept looking for other careers.  Next, I explored construction technology because I love research and had already completed a construction apprenticeship program.  Finally, I chose to become a building inspector.  


That seed was planted by Silvia Gonzalez, Inspection Supervisor for the City of Minneapolis.  Her representation helped me envision myself in a job dominated by men.  Silvia is a role model who encouraged tradeswomen to explore a career in building inspections.  She explained the qualifications and requirements to succeed in her profession. 


Teamsters helped me attend the Building Inspection Technology (BIT) program at North Hennepin Community College (NHCC).  My program ran from January through December 2020.  While studying, I polished my résumé and participated in numerous job fairs hosted by the Teamsters.  Despite COVID-19, I did informational interviews and was fortunate to be a mentee with Be Bold, Break the Mold, led by Maria Vittone at NHCC.  That opportunity was my turning point.  It provided me access to industry role models and mentors so I could learn from other nontraditional career professionals.  I was paired with Ann Jacklitch, Director of Building Inspection Services for the City of Maple Grove, where I trained for several weeks with their knowledgeable staff.  Later, I was selected for a six-month paid internship with Greg Brady at the City of Coon Rapids.

My training with Maple Grove and Coon Rapids solidified my choice to become a building inspector.  I knew I was on the best career track after I received plenty of "windshield time" performing inspections.  That hands-on experience, plus my certification, was my ticket to a full-time job.


My goal, after my internship, was to find work with City of Minneapolis or one of the first-tier suburbs.  Minneapolis was the best fit for me, so I applied for a housing inspector position, hoping to eventually move up to building inspections.  Last month, my dream came true.  I am now a Building Inspector for the City of Minneapolis, and I could not be happier!  I earn $87,830 a year, significantly more than when I was a construction worker, due to the full-time permanent status of the job.


It took the help of a village to be where I am today.  I so appreciated the résumé development and negotiating tips I received from Christine Chelstrom at Teamsters | Minnesota Job Partners.  I will be forever grateful to Shelley for her patience, guidance, and understanding.  She was exactly who I needed, and Teamsters were exactly what I needed to find a career I love.  I am SO full of gratitude!

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Krishna’s Success:

Seizing Opportunity While Working Union


Krishna Chand knows how to seize opportunity – whether it’s behind-the-wheel as a trucker or in front of a computer as a technologist.  His most recent employment prior to the pandemic was in hospitality as a cook.  COVID-19 impacted his work yet provided him with an opportunity to consider another career that could earn him more possibilities through the assistance of the Dislocated Worker Program at Minnesota Job Partners | Teamsters.

Krishna had earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Nepal before moving to the United States.  Here in Minnesota, he completed general studies at Minneapolis Community College, then transferred to Metro State to focus on a degree in Information Technology.  

Krishna hopes to finish his IT degree online while working as a truck driver.  With a $4,000 scholarship from Minnesota Job Partners, Krishna recently gained a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) from Mayle Trans Trucking School.  Now he earns excellent income and benefits working union for a Teamsters company called Martin Brower.


Krishna’s CDL is like gold.  In fact, salary potential for Martin Brower’s local delivery drivers is $86,000 to $120,000 a year.  The company is hiring full-time drivers immediately with a $10,000 signing bonus.  The job comes with the protection of a union contract complete with medical benefits and incentive pay.


Team members at Martin Brower have an unmatched opportunity to drive innovation in the supply chain.  Drivers, like Krishna, deliver food to big brand restaurants like McDonald’s.  From docks to distribution centers to restaurants, they rely on human collaboration and technology to solve delivery challenges.  The company is a place where Krishna can advance as he gains computer science skills.       


Responsible, motivated, and eager to study and learn, the possibilities for Krishna to grow with his new employer are limitless.  His understanding of the supply chain from a driver’s perspective will be valuable if he pursues an IT role with Martin Brower.  Teamsters will be rooting for Krishna throughout his journey.  His Career Counselor, Esther, stands ready to help him seek a promotion.


Krishna is extremely grateful to have been coached and funded with job and résumé assistance through the Dislocated Workers Program at Minnesota Job Partners | Teamsters. 

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Adam’s Success: Driving Big Trucks


Now is a great time to start a truck driving career.  The trucking industry is in dire need of qualified truck drivers.  Huge demand for freight is creating an abundance of stable, high-quality careers for job seekers.


Adam Abdallah seized this opportunity.  “Right now, a Commercial Driver’s License is like gold,” he says.  “I want to thank Minnesota Job Partners and the Teamsters for making a difference in my life and paying for my CDL school.”

Adam had studied psychology, chemistry, and writing at the University of Minnesota.  He also had experience as a driver, dispatcher, and manager.  But a loss of work during COVID-19 got him thinking about a lucrative career as an over-the-road truck driver.


The lifestyle appeals to Adam.  Many truckers love being behind the wheel all day, delivering the freight that people need.  Living out of a semi-truck means having the freedom to travel the country and discover new places.  And truckers can earn $80,000 to $124,000 a year plus generous benefits and signing bonuses.      


Adam’s journey started when he got his CDL permit. Adam recalls, “I had limited information and so many questions.  Through my online research, I discovered Minnesota Job Partners and learned what they do for our community.  After being accepted into the program, they quickly assigned me a counselor.  From there my journey was smooth.”


Adam’s Career Counselor suggested he look at several driving schools and pick the best fit.  Most CDL training is quick – typically 3-6 weeks – with classroom instruction and behind-the-wheel training. Tuition ranges from $4,000 to $5,000.  Learners can be taught to drive automatic and/or manual transmissions.


Adam selected Minnesota Truck and Trailer Leasing School in Blaine.  Within a month, he successfully passed the CDL Class A test with a perfect score of 100 percent!  The owners of Minnesota Truck and Trailer were so impressed with Adam’s strengths and leadership skills that they offered him a part-time job as an instructor.


Today Adam is on the road to a rewarding career at Schneiders National Trucking.  He was hired for a rigorous, month-long paid training in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where veteran drivers will teach him their trade.


“I know I have to work hard to take advantage of this opportunity,” says Adam.  “The support system at Minnesota Job Partners was amazing.  To my great counselor, Esther, you are the best and I thank you for all the help and support you’ve given me.”


Adam also offers this advice for aspiring truck drivers: “If you want to make a career change in your life, I highly recommend Minnesota Job Partners.”

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Imogene's Success:

Upskilling Online


By Imogene Ervin

Unfortunately, I was one of the millions of people who was let go from my job during the COVID pandemic.  After taking more than a year off to reflect on my life and what I wanted my future to look like, I was referred to Teamsters Service Bureau by a co-worker who was also let go. 

Upon signing up, I was immediately partnered with a wonderful counselor named Meg.  She was extremely helpful in assisting me with navigating the program and all it had to offer.  We talked in great length about how I would use the program and it’s funding to further my education and increase my marketability. 

I decided to enroll at Rutgers University Online and earn a certificate in Human Resources Management.  I started the program in April 2021 and completed it one week early in July 2021.  It was hard work but well worth it! 

By August, I was confident enough to start applying for jobs and in September I was offered a position as an Executive Administrative Assistant at a Fortune 500 company only seven minutes from my home.  The cherry on top is that it pays considerably more than the job I previously had! 

Had it not been for the Teamsters Service Bureau and job readiness workshops, I would have never gotten this job.  And thanks to them, I couldn’t be happier!  I would advise anyone who has been let go of their job to check out the Teamsters Service Bureau.  Don’t delay!  You will not regret it!”

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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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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.”