Kevin’s Story: Overcoming Challenges to Work in IT for the State of Minnesota

photo of Kevin

Four years ago, Kevin had what turned out to be a pivotal conversation, although he didn’t know it then. The conversation happened when Kevin was referred to a local community rehabilitation provider where Frank Herd was then working. Kevin hoped to find a technology-related job and Frank suggested that he might be a good candidate for the Connect 700 (C700) program, a trial work program that allows for a non-competitive selection process for individuals with disabilities who want to work in Minnesota state government. C700 allows qualified individuals up to 700 hours to prove they can perform the required job responsibilities while on the job, with or without reasonable accommodation. If they can, they are hired as a permanent state employee.

As it happened, Kevin found a job at Best Buy and never got around to applying for C700 certification. Meanwhile, he and Frank lost contact. A few years later Kevin noticed an attractive job opportunity with MNIT, the state’s information technology agency, and decided to apply for the position as a C700-eligible applicant. With critical assistance from a job coach, he completed his C700 tryout, and on Monday, November 2, 2020 Kevin completed his probationary period and is now a full-time employee at MNIT.

But that’s not the end of the story. Frank left his position at the community rehab provider to accept a position as a placement coordinator with the Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS) Brooklyn Park team. He is a strong proponent of the C700 program and has used it to successfully place several individuals with disabilities in state government jobs. And there’s a nice twist to the story. One day recently when he was experiencing some technical difficulties with his computer, Frank called the MNIT service desk for assistance. Guess who answered the call? It was Kevin– four years later, happily employed, and grateful for that long-ago conversation with Frank.

John Fisher is the Director of Communications and Data Management for Vocational Rehabilitation Services at DEED.

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