Tiona’s Career Success Story in Her Own Words: Discovering Her Passion

photo of Tiona who moved from food service jobs to a health care career thanks to Dislocated Worker

Tiona shared this this story of her success in moving from food service jobs to a health care career:

Working for the University of Minnesota in food service 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 and didn’t have a serious plan for my future career.  

While I loved my restaurant job, the pandemic created a new challenge. The University usually takes a three-week winter break, but this year they extended it to seven weeks due to the pandemic. During the break, I wasn’t needed to work in the restaurant. Imagine seven 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 in the Dislocated Worker program with Minnesota Job Partners, the career services division of the Teamsters Service Bureau, a CareerForce partner.

Together, my Minnesota Job Partners counselor Esther and I explored what I would want in my career. I wanted to find 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. Esther’s guidance and reassurance were everything I needed to get through this devastating time. With my newfound interest in the medical field, thanks to my work in the lab, I worked with Esther 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 occurred to me, but it did to Esther. 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 four-week training. I passed the exam!  While I was training, Esther helped me job search with a professional résumé. I was grateful to be in training during the seven-week shutdown, but my anxiety was a problem. I was worrying about being able to support myself in this pandemic. Esther 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 Minnesota Job Partners program, I completed phlebotomy training, got career coaching and professional résumé help, and received extra assistance during the pandemic. Then I found a lab position at M Health Fairview thanks to my new skills.

photo of Tiona's U of M lab badge

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

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.

Find out more about the Dislocated Worker Program.

If you are interested in learning more about health care careers, check out this wrap up of materials, event recordings and blog posts Health Care Month in January 2021, including an interactive info sheet that shows transferable skills from hospitality to health care careers.