Anoka County Job Training Success Stories:

Contributing to the success of individuals and employers through workforce development services.

Dislocated Worker Program

In 2010, for the first time in over 25 years, I found myself unemployed, over 50 years old and having to begin a new journey in my life. I had worked hard and achieved a salaried position that required a degree if hired from the outside.

The economy was still recovering and jobs were not easy to come by, especially with no college degree. Writing a resume, cover letter and preparing for interviews was a bit overwhelming and intimidating. I was told about the WorkForce Center in Blaine and met with a counselor who spent as much time as we needed to discuss the classes and programs that would help prepare me for this challenge.

​ I was successful in getting hired full time in the customer service field and was elated to be back in the workforce, but came to the realization this was not my passion. I made the decision to go back to school for an Associate’s Degree in IT while still working full time at my customer service job. I began school in March of 2014, only to find myself laid off in July 2015, with eight months left to complete my degree.

​ I found myself back at the WorkForce Center, using their Dislocated Workers program. I met with David D., who assessed my situation and provided information on the Business Analyst Certificate program. It would enhance my previous skills and teach new techniques while networking with individuals with the same career goal. I have since graduated with an Associate’s Degree in the IT field, obtained my Business Analyst Certificate and I’m confident in the fact that I will find a job as a Business Analyst, thanks to the support of the counselors at the WorkForce Center and the programs. I am currently working in the customer service world again but know that this is just a stepping stone to launch my career as a Business Analyst.

Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP)

Janis Christensen began her work assignment thru Anoka County’s Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) in the spring of 2014. She was placed at Facilities Management in Anoka at the Government Center as a Clerical Aide. Her responsibilities included receptionist duties, accounting assistance, spreadsheet work, answering phones and creating/revising special projects. Through this training program, Janis has shown growth in many areas related to her quality and understanding of the ”big picture” and strong connections she makes on her day to day responsibilities of building relationships with customers.

Her supervisors describe her as having excellent interactions with customers and very pleasant to work with. Janis’s training with the SCSEP program gave her the experience she needed to apply and be hired with Anoka County. She was hired as an Office Support Assistant for 29 hrs. a week in Facilities Management. We wish Janis success in her new endeavor.

Youth Program
youth ss

Casey Pangburn heard about the Empowers Program and Healthcare Pathways Program through the Anoka County WorkForce Center. After hearing the details about the two programs she decided they sounded like a perfect opportunity for her as she wanted to become a nurse and could use the extra help both programs offered to start her career.

​​She attended the Healthcare Pathways Program in September 2015 and received her Nursing Assistant Certification in November 2015. Not only did she get her Nursing Assistant Certification but she received training in Holistic Healing, Dementia Training, Culture Change, and Directing and Supporting. She went from making $9.00 an hour working in the fast food industry to making $14.00 an hour within a month’s time of getting her certification. She currently works at the Benedictine Health Center at Innsbruck.

​Casey said that both of these programs have made her dreams a reality and that she can only go up from here. They have also allowed her to be able to take better care of her beautiful daughter. The extra supports she received like mileage reimbursement helped when she was concentrating on school and the gift cards for meeting her goals were a nice added bonus.

​Casey's ultimate job goal is to get a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing and be a Registered Nurse. She hopes to open up her own nursing home someday.

Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) / Diversionary Work Program (DWP)


In August of 2015 Felipe Ruiz lost his manufacturing manager job as the company shut down and moved to India. With a wife and 8 children to take care of, Felipe felt little to no hope for the future. After Felipe lost his job, he began searching the job market to find suitable employment that will earn him enough income to take care of his family.

Felipe enrolled in the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) at the Anoka County Job Training Center and began working with a senior vocational counselor. After some career exploration, Felipe expressed high interest as a truck driver. Later researching the requirements to obtain a CDL Class A license, Felipe took the CDL Class A permit exam and after numerous attempts, Felipe finally obtained his permit. A few weeks after obtaining his CDL permit, Felipe applied to many truck driving companies. Within days and weeks, Felipe received 15 pre hire letters from various companies.

​The next step for Felipe was to take the CDL Class A training program to obtain his license. After discussing this with his senior vocational counselor, the Anoka County Job Training Center approved his CDL training at Century College. This fast track 4 week course was difficult for Felipe. After week 2, Felipe called his senior vocational counselor and requested to drop out of the program as he had little hope he would pass the license exam due to little time to get the vast amount of information down. After some brainstorming with his counselor, Felipe decided to complete the program. With 14 hours per day of studying on top of job searching, Felipe obtained his CDL Class A license! Felipe was one of the two in the class of 15 students to pass the exam.

​During this time Felipe was very hopeful and advised his fellow students that determination and studying countless hours helped Felipe pass the exam. Days after the training ended, Felipe began a 3 week training program in Wisconsin at Schneider International. This was not easy for Felipe as he spent 12 hour days studying and would be away from his family for 3 weeks. After Felipe passed the weekly exams and successfully completed the training program at Schneider International, Felipe was offered a full-time job with benefits as a local truck driver for US Foods. Felipe accepted the offer at US Foods and his family’s income has increased substantially for him to exit the Minnesota Family Investment Program in these next coming months. Felipe is now very hopeful and excited to comfortably take care of his family and buy a home this year.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Employment & Training

In fall of 2015 following a two year break from temporary and seasonal employment, I entered SNAP Employment & Training Program looking for permanent employment. I attended orientation and was assigned to work with an Employment Service Counselor at the Blaine WorkForce Center.

I have US Military service and a history of working good paying but mostly seasonal and temporary jobs: I wanted to find a permanent position with good pay and decent benefits doing manufacturing, order selection or working in a warehouse.

On recommendation of my counselor, I started by attending the Career Exploration Workshop to look at what my real job goals are and the related skills I already have as well as review training options. I then attended networking groups and job club to help me focus on finding a match for my skills, interests and salary/benefit requirements. Finding a ‘fit’ for my skills and interests was easy: finding an employer to offer me permanent employment and benefits was difficult.

My counselor helped me stay motivated and offered suggestions on my resume, cover letters and interviewing techniques. I was able to use the Resource Center to locate good job leads and started to apply for positions. After interviewing and going on a ‘ride along’, I have been hired by Frito-Lay as a warehouse tech.

Health Care Pathways

My name is Monica Pruett, and I chose to do the Health Care Pathways Program because, well, I’m a natural caretaker. I have been since I was a little girl. I enjoy helping others, even when it goes unappreciated. It’s something I enjoy very much. Prior to entering the Health Care Pathways Program, I had received my high school diploma and was deciding what my next steps would be as I had always had an interest in the Health Care field. In the past I worked in a care center as a Dietary Aid and I really enjoyed being in the environment and being able to help the elderly.

​ I had heard that the Health Care Pathways Program could pay for me to receive my certified nursing assistant certification. I knew this was a perfect opportunity to start my career in the health care field. We started out in the prep-class with our instructor, Sue. Prep class was definitely beneficial. All the study tips were helpful as well as just learning the terminology upfront made the college classes easier. We next took Culture Change, Directing and Supporting, and Dementia Training. Dementia training was awesome. One example from Dementia training that I thought was genius was when a resident at a care center tells you that they want to go home just play along. You end up confusing and frustrating the resident by telling them that this is their home. I will definitely be using this tip in the future. Then came Introduction to Holistic Healing in which I learned a lot about natural remedies not only for clients but for myself. Lastly we took the Nursing Assistant / Home Health Aide course and did our clinicals at Homestead in Anoka.

​During the training there were some devastating things that happened to me and I unfortunately became homeless. It was a struggle but I'm proud to say I made it through. I'm a testament that even with things stacked against you if you want something badly enough you can make it happen. This program was wonderful not only for the education but for the amazing friendships along the way. I have been hired at Homestead in Anoka as a Nursing Assistant and excited to start this new chapter in my life.

Office & Administrative Technology


Sue found herself unemployed after her job as co-manager at an in-home day care center was eliminated. She had spent the last 15 years of her career working at a day care center.
​After day care, Sue wanted a job in an office environment, so she applied and was accepted into the Office and Administrative Technology Training Program (O&ATs), that would provide her with skills needed in an office. She began with the Bridge portion of the training and was astounded with the amount of work required to learn word processing programs. Sue was determined to graduate from the O&AT program, so she took the initiative to put together an “informal work team” of classmates she could call or email when she needed help with homework assignments.
​Sue successfully completed the Bridge portion of the training and was extremely excited to learn she was accepted to move on to the Microsoft Training portion. Sue’s hard work, initiative and determination transformed her from being flabbergasted with the work required, to that of excitement and confidence!
​During Bridge, Sue also participated in a number of different job readiness workshops, including resume writing and interviewing. During these readiness workshops, Sue began to think about why an employer would hire her. She knew future employers would look at her resume and see that she lacked office experience and “only” had day care experience. After reaching out to her classmates, family members, and the OATS Navigator for advice, she took an inventory of the customer service skills she had developed and honed during her 15 years in home day care. The customer service skills inventory highlighted to Sue that the home day care skills are transferrable to the office environment.
​Sue was able to eloquently communicate the transferability of her day care skills to the office environment when she was asked during a job interview, “What is your biggest strength?” Sue’s thoughtful response was her ability to take a group of children from chaos to calm. The employer agreed with Sue that the ability to create calm out of chaos was a strength; whether in home day care or the office environment. Sue continued to have success at future interviews in communicating all the day care skills that were also applicable in an office setting.
​Sue successfully completed the Microsoft Office Portion of the class and received three certifications:
​1. Master’s Certificate 2. Microsoft Office Specialist in Word 3. Microsoft Office Specialist in Excel
​Sue participated in an 8-week paid internship with Metro North Adult Basic Education and did a wonderful job throughout her internship! Shortly after wrapping-up her internship; Sue secured a temporary position with the Anoka County Highway Department as an Office Support Assistant. Although her current position is temporary, Sue knows her continued hard work, determination, and initiative displayed in completing the Office and Administrative Technology Training Program will result in bigger and better things in the future!

Precision Sheet Metal

Matthew came to the Anoka County WorkForce Center through the Dislocated Worker program. He was 35 and was recently let go from a company in August of 2014. He had worked as a Warehouse Worker in Shipping and Receiving for 12 years. His unemployment was running out in February 2015. He completed our Career Exploration and Creative Job Search Workshops.

 His dislocated worker counselor reviewed Labor Market and ONET information to look at occupations that matched his Holland Codes. He also heard about our Career Connections programs and the various pathway trainings offered through the Anoka County WorkForce Center. Matt was very interested in the Precision Sheet Metal Program (PSM).

Matt met with the navigator of the PSM program, toured Modern Tool, a manufacturing Company in our local area and started class on February 9. He completed 25 hours of Shop Math Preparation which is facilitated by Metro North Adult Basic Education. He then completed the 100 hours of training at Anoka Technical College in the shop learning how to use the Press Brake, the Laser and the Turret. They also taught him to read blue prints and stressed occupational safety. He graduated on April 22 and was asked to be a speaker at Graduation.

After the graduation ceremony, Matthew visited with employers that were in attendance and he scheduled several interviews for the following days. Not soon after, Matthew notified staff that he was offered a job at EJ Ajax Metal Forming Solutions. This position offered great benefits, a better commute then other job offers and was first shift. In talking with the HR manager and his direct supervisor at EJ Ajax they shared that Matt has shown skill sets that include shop safety, shop math and basic understanding of manufacturing in a stamping and fabrication environment. Matt also maintains a professional appearance and is very punctual which is much harder to teach.