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Career Solutions Programs

Did you know students in our region can get paid and earn college credits while preparing for their future careers? CareerONE is a free program available from Career Solutions. In the CareerONE program, student participants get realistic and positive work readiness training in a safe, nurturing, and learning-rich environment. They can explore the fields of Healthcare, Construction and Manufacturing, Early Childhood Education, Public Safety, or a general exploration of careers, all with hands-on experience and college credits. In just 5 weeks, students can earn over $1,000.

To qualify for CareerONE, students must be between the ages of 14 and 17 and live in or attend school in St. Cloud, Paynesville, Sauk Centre, Melrose, or surrounding areas in Stearns and Benton County. Students go through an application process, must demonstrate reading and math skills at 5th grade or higher, and work safely in a team setting with minimal supervision. Applications for the Summer 2024 CareerONE program are open now on the CareerONE website.

Jacob Kaduk, Client Services Manager at Career Solutions, shared information about the programs and their success. “CareerONE started over 20 years ago because of a grant called the Minnesota Youth Program (MYP). MYP is a state grant that Career Solutions still receives to this day. Career Solutions had a capacity of 40 students with MYP funds. It was CentraCare’s interest in and support that CareerONE was able to grow. Today, with its nonprofit partner Friends of Career Solution and the support of multiple foundations and donors, CareerONE is able to serve 140 students in St. Cloud, 20 in Sauk Centre, 10 in Paynesville, and 10 in Melrose. There are visions to grow the program, but we need more space, so we are having internal conversations about what the future looks like.”

Businesses not only financially support the program but also provide food for the students each day, help with mock interviews, and host students for mentorships after the program. “Mentorships are also offered to successful graduates of CareerONE. They can be part of the upcoming year’s program or work with other nonprofits earning $500. It’s a win-win for all involved.”

An Impact Story: Meet Jed

Jed Foster is a student who has gone through the CareerONE program as both a student and mentor. “I was born in St. Cloud and later moved to Sauk Rapids with my family. I really like this area - there are great people and great job opportunities. I learned about CareerONE when I was in middle school; my advisor at the time, James Turner, shared the information with me. I had never had a job prior to that, so I was determined to be the best employee I could be. I got the paper signed and worked out a ride to work, and it really started from there. I worked through the first year and then got the opportunity to become a youth mentor. Both the process and the team I worked with were amazing!”

Screenshot 2024-02-26 at 2.21.33 PM“CareerONE is an amazing place to help build a future career and help build up youth starting at square one. This program taught me punctuality, cooperation, communication, how to save money, how to organize my time effectively, and how to just have fun. I enjoy the diversity of CareerONE, and it’s great exposure for people to learn to work in a diverse environment. The three career paths you can choose to work at can impact where you end up in the future, and the Higher Ed certificates you get at the end of it all look really good on a resume. Also, during the team building, they stressed the importance of being able to work effectively with anyone on your team. It’s the only program I know of that adds a lot of fun to the job and gives back to the community around it.”

“In my group, it was really easy to lift each other up. I worked in the construction course, and we did physical labor - so helping each other was crucial. The friendships I built there were amazing, and it made the work more efficient. When we worked on houses with scaffolds, we helped move stuff and spread the work evenly; we had built the trust to know that everyone was doing a good job, and the people at Habitat for Humanity were great! They continually helped build us up and make us better, and that made a big difference.”

“There’s a long list of things I learned; the science behind construction has fascinated me. It’s more than just making sure everything is straight, measured, and works. In construction, the terms they use and functions on the job site were eye-opening … The plumb bob, building trusses, cutting out the doors and having a mapped out place to put the hinges, having to cut specific boards for the doorframe and having to build a foundation, having to work with drip edge, and then we worked at Habitat For Humanity having to get a headboard for a garage, then building the frames of the basement, having to use different tools … It all became very interesting to me. I started to really feel like I could see a future in the industry and also be good at it. Plus, the OSHA training I got to do through CareerONE was awesome, and I have the certificate to prove it.”

“I actually participated in CareerONE for three summers, always improving my effectiveness and work ethic each year. I do lawn care now, but soon I’ll be off to college. Thanks to my work and the willingness of CareerONE, I’m able to go to college with a two-year grant and be able to pursue my newfound love for Carpentry.”

“CareerONE has helped me come out of my shell and be comfortable under some pressure, as well as thrive in diverse communities. I still have contact with some of the people I worked with years ago, and what the college and the leaders of CareerONE have done for me is extremely important and has a great impact on my future. Without this experience, I would be working a dead-end job with no plans for a future. Knowing this program has helped me overcome what I have and helped me be able to build on my leadership is truly something special. CareerONE has had a huge impact on my life.”

Make it Possible to Make a Difference

Screenshot 2024-02-26 at 3.17.45 PMThe biggest challenges for the CareerONE program are funding and space. “We apply for several grants to help support the program and do everything we can to cover the program financially. We appreciate the donors we have, but the program is expensive to support. We know we can grow the program, but aside from maxing out our dollars, we’re maxing out our space at St. Cloud Technical and Community College. We are looking at ways we can overcome this, but at the moment, only 140 students can participate in the program - even though we receive over 300 applications every year.”

“Working at Career Solutions is very rewarding. You meet so many new people, get to hear their stories, and then help them accomplish their goals. On the youth side, participants are ages 14-17 and are trying to discover passions and find what they want to do with their lives. Some students might have a rough home life, and they use their $1,020 stipend to help support their family. To help these students with everyday life and just be there to support them, give them words of encouragement, be there just to listen, and hopefully lift them up is very rewarding.”

“Beyond age 17, we also work with other students ages 18 through 24. They’re often in our program because they dropped out of school, so we assist them with getting a GED or diploma, getting a job, or going to college. These young adults have been through a lot, and there is usually a story behind why they dropped out. Now they want to complete school and better their lives; it’s incredibly rewarding to help them with this process.”

“Being a part of Central MN is amazing. It is so awesome to see so many people and organizations come together to support such a great program. CareerONE can always use more donations to support the program financially, but we can also use volunteers to help with mock interviews, tours of local companies, hosting a youth mentor, as well as other opportunities.”