Career and Mentoring Day for People with Disabilities

Career and mentoring opportunities for the minority job seeking market are generally harder to come by, but on Wednesday October 26, 2005 the situation proved to be quite optimistic for those individuals. This day served as a symbol of great potential for the job seekers who struggle with a disability, because that day, they had the chance to connect and network with a host of different employers and business leaders from all over Minnesota.

The Minnesota Business Leadership Network presented the 2nd annual Minnesota Career Development Day which was held at Medtronic Corporate World Headquarters. The event was a wonderful marketplace for college students and graduates to put their best foot forward and focus on their abilities and strengths to gain a job or internship opportunities with major corporations such as Medtronic, 3M, Microsoft, and Deloitte.

The morning session kicked off with representatives from the participating companies addressing their corporate values to the attendees. Fairview Health Services, Federal Agencies, and Ameriprise Financial were among the presenters.

The keynote speaker, Jennifer Sheehy-Keller, the President’s appointed Special Assistant for Employment to the Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation and the Acting Deputy Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration in the US Department of Education (OSERS), gave an inspiring discourse about her personal struggles with a disability and how she was able to overcome the obstacles in her life to achieve her success. Sheehy-Keller encouraged the audience to shoot for the stars and go for their dreams.

Next, a Q & A session with a panel of speakers who have disabilities addressed various topics through a great selection of questions from audience participants. The panel’s speakers gave invaluable information to the audience because of their experience in having gained success in school and in their jobs, regardless of their disabilities. The wise-ranging panelists consisted of a Medtronic employee, college students, disability activists, and many others.

The last event of the day was a career fair which offered students and job seekers a chance to market their skills and talents to the employers at their given booths and also to participate in a resume review session.

The key message conveyed by the presenters throughout the day was, that no matter what your disability, focus on your abilities. Dismiss the “dis” in disability, and just see how success will follow you everywhere you go. Presenter and State Representative, Torrey Westrom reminds us, “If you don’t control your attitude, it will control you.”

For more information about the Minnesota Business Leadership Network or about the above event, log onto: www.mnbln.org.

The MNBLN will host another Career Development Day in 2006, as well as hosting the US Business Leadership Network Annual meeting in Minnesota. If you are interested in being involved in the planning of either of these events, please contact Terri Ricci at 651-644-2133 or Karen Quammen at 763-505-2663.