Colin's Story: Seeing a World of Career Opportunities

Photo of Katie and Colin at Colin's workstation at DEED

“They made me feel part of the family,” that’s how Colin described working as an intern at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). Colin was an important part of the team, supporting staff by scanning paperwork, preparing documents for laserfiche and doing other computer work. “I learned to work with Adobe Acrobat,” said Colin. Colin also learned he liked a variety of work during his internship at DEED, which ended in late November.

Colin is an intern through Project Search, an innovative initiative that introduces young people with disabilities to a variety of employment opportunities. Katie Borne is a Project Search Instructor who works with Colin and other Project Search interns when they first start a new assignment at a State of Minnesota office or agency. Katie has worked with interns who work in the Governor’s Office, Veterans Affairs, the Department of Administration and other state offices and agencies, including DEED.

“Colin does an amazing job being an advocate for people with disabilities,” said Katie. “He really highlights what an asset he and other people with disabilities are to the workforce.” Katie works with Project Search interns at State of Minnesota sites. There are also Project Search interns at Avera Regional Medical Center in Marshall, Children’s Minnesota, Medtronic, Fairview Lakes Medical Center in Wyoming, MN, Hennepin County Medical Center and the Mayo Clinic. Project Search is always looking for additional internship sites. Project Search is partnership between the organization hosting the internship site, the local school district, DEED’s Vocational Rehabilitation Services or State Services for the Blind, County Developmental Disabilities Divisions and a follow-along provider.

At DEED, Colin had supervisors in the two offices he worked in: Lisa Dargis at the Office of Business and Finance and Frida Alvarez, an Equal Opportunity Officer in the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity. While learning a range of office skills through his internship, Colin learned many other less concrete but equally important skills. “Opportunities to work on building a network with people,” is a key part of what young people learn during an internship, said Frida. “Internships can help students build their network so when they work with different people they have many references they can potentially reach out to when applying for positions.”

Colin is really looking forward to his next internship opportunity: working in the archives department at the Minnesota History Center. Colin’s face lit up when talking about all he’s learned in his internship at DEED and all he’s excited to become skilled at in his next internship experience. Soon, Colin will put all he's learned and all the relationships he’s developed to use when finding employment. He graduates in June of 2020.