Bobbi Smith was a few credits shy of graduating from college when her husband became severely disabled. In need of employment to support her family, the mother of three from Stevens County went to her local Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program office.
The nonprofit organization, funded by federal, state and county dollars, prepares people for work in 19 northwestern Minnesota counties – Becker, Beltrami, Cass, Clay, Clearwater, Crow Wing, Douglas, Grant, Hubbard, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Morrison, Otter Tail, Pope, Stevens, Todd, Traverse, Wadena and Wilkin.
As a Minnesota Family Investment Program recipient, Smith was eligible for education and training services. Administered by the Department of Human Services, the Minnesota Family Investment Program helps Minnesotans with children and low incomes achieve self-sufficiency through temporary job counseling, financial assistance and nutrition assistance.
At Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program, Smith received job search, résumé and interviewing assistance. The organization also provided help with gas vouchers, a needed car repair and work attire to make sure Smith would be successful in her job search. Smith said the staff was “amazing to work with – kind, helpful and outgoing all the way!”
After learning how to showcase her abilities through her résumé, Smight had a phenomenal first interview with a law firm. While she was not selected for that job, they recommended her to another firm that was hiring. The Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program contacted that firm following her interview to offer an on-the-job training contract, which defrays the cost of training for applicants without previous experience in the field.
Smith landed the position and the firm was excited to have her on board as an executive legal assistant. In December 2011, she graduated with honors from the University of Minnesota, Morris, with a Bachelor of Arts in management. Her family was no longer receiving Minnesota Family Investment Program assistance and moved out of subsidized housing to a home just blocks from Smith’s new job.