Project SEARCH and Opportunity Services partnership creates success!

Opportunity Services is a proud partner with Project SEARCH, a professional internship program for students with disabilities. Project SEARCH is a wonderful way for students to test various jobs in a professional setting. Opportunity Services Employment Specialists work hands-on with the students during their internship and prepare each individual to find a job following graduation.

One of our Project SEARCH locations is Medtronic in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Medtronic offers the Project SEARCH interns a variety of job exploration: from working in a warehouse, human resources, material organization and more. Tanner (pictured above left) is a successful graduate of the Project SEARCH program at Medtronic. “We weren’t quite sure of the next steps following Tanner’s transition graduation,” said Kelly, Tanner’s dad (pictured above right). “I wasn’t sure if I was going to have to step in to make sure Tanner could live and work just like everyone else.” Fortunately enough, Tanner applied and was accepted into the Project SEARCH program. During his last year of school he stayed at Medtronic, working through three different job rotations.

Tanner enjoyed all of his various tasks, but far surpassed expectations as a Materials Handler. So much so, Medtronic hired Tanner following his graduation! Tanner stocks products for the atrial filter and pump lines where the products are made. Originally, he stocked one line of products but now he is up to four! Tanner works from 5am to 3pm Monday through Friday. He’s full-time but is always happy to help during the busy season. He loves going to work at Medtronic. “All I wanted was to be engaged and contributing at a job,” said Tanner. “I love what I do everyday.”

“It’s been amazing to see Tanner’s growth at Medtronic,” proclaims Kelly. “I’ve had the opportunity to watch Project SEARCH change Tanner’s life. His work skills, independence, advocating for himself: everything has changed for the better.” Beyond his employment growth, Tanner now has the opportunity to live on his own in a supported apartment. He moved into his apartment earlier this year and bought brand new furniture with money saved from his wages. Tanner utilizes Metro Mobility to and from work, as well as social engagements out in the community.

Tanner’s dad, Kelly works for Hennepin Healthcare in downtown Minneapolis as their Chief Ambulatory Officer. Hennepin Healthcare also has a Project SEARCH program, but Kelly and his family learned about the program when Tanner got involved at Medtronic. This year, Kelly was able to give back to the program that changed his son’s life by adding an intern to the Emergency Medical Services team that he oversees.

Dawn Johnson, Project SEARCH Supervisor with Opportunity Services has seen the growth in Tanner firsthand. “It’s been fun to see Tanner morph into an adult. He came to Medtronic with an open mind and he was willing to take direction from his teachers and co-workers. I think that is what made him successful: his ability to learn and his never-ending positive attitude.” It did take time for Tanner to adapt to the job at first, as he’s quite the talker, but once Dawn and Tanner streamlined the process of his job and he learned to connect with others during his break; Tanner was on his way to success!

From a societal standpoint, Tanner has moved from a young adult to a tax-paying citizen, living at his own apartment with his own job. Project SEARCH and Opportunity Services not only focus on personal and employment growth for the students involved, it’s about changing expectations for people with disabilities. Medtronic has gained a very dedicated and positive employee in Tanner, because they were willing to take a chance with the Project SEARCH program. In this case, everybody wins!