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May 11, 2020

Leaning into resilience with virtual job training

PPL Office Specialist Cohort #10

In mid-March, two weeks into a six-week job training program to become Office Specialists for Hennepin County, PPL’s Cohort #10 experienced some drastic changes.

With Minnesota’s Stay-At-Home policy in effect, they could no longer attend daily classes at PPL’s new Career Center. The prospects of exciting job shadows and mock interviews with Hennepin County staff, along with the careers that they so desperately wanted, now seemed dim.

Within a month, this cohort moved to an entirely online curriculum and continues to excel. But it wasn’t easy - it took hard work, determination, and above all, a will to be more resilient than ever.

“This cohort is incredibly adaptive,” says Kelsey Shelton, PPL Employment Specialist.

Together, they’ve found innovative ways to continue training, like learning soft-skills over Zoom, collaborating with Hennepin County to complete curriculum, virtual meetings between job shadow hosts and class participants, mock interviews over the phone, and virtual supervisor and class graduate panels.

"I have always dreamed of improving my skills so that I can be competitive in the job market and self-reliant. I believe that by completing Cohort #10, I am on the right path to fulfilling my dream," says Kanneh, Office Specialist graduate.

Thanks to their resilience and creativity, the class graduated at the end of March! The graduates still gather virtually several times a week to continue developing their skills with the support and direction of PPL and Hennepin County.

“In a time of confusion and intense emotion, this class has shown no fear. They have asked, ‘Okay, how are we going to make this great and walk away with as much information as we can?’" says Kelsey.

“That resilience, that hope for the future, that commitment to their own greatness - they have displayed all of that."