Warehouse Student Gets a Job Earning $19 an Hour!

Kevin’s hard work paid off when completed Takoda’s warehouse training program and landed a job
Felicia Sherrod, Recruitment & Marketing Specialist
Kevin (left) and José, the coordinator for our Warehouse Training

Kevin, who was featured in last month’s success story video  landed a job in his field!

After completing the Warehouse training program, attending Takoda’s Employer of the Day, and working on his resume, Kevin landed a job in his field earning $19 an hour.

We’re so happy for Kevin and many others who are building their career at Takoda.













Alumni Spotlight – Larry K.

From the Takoda Institute, to CEO and radio host, our alum Larry K is proof of a Takoda education in action.

Larry K, a proud member of the Ho-Chunk nation, graduated from Takoda Institute’s former Administrative Professional program in the nineties, and since then has taken a path straight to success.

After graduation, Larry K worked at Mystic Lake Casino as a Computer Integrator Manager and then started his own business, Two Buffalo Roofing and Siding Systems. After 10 years of successful business, Larry moved his business to Florida, where he’s now the President and CEO of Two Buffalo Construction Supplies. That’s not all Larry is up to – since 2000 he’s been the host of Indigenous in Music with Larry K, a nationally-syndicated radio show that highlights Indigenous musicians.

You can listen to Indigenous in Music with Larry K here.

From Student to Instructor: Amy’s Story

Amy’s commitment as a student helped her land an instructor role at Takoda, where she’s inspiring students just like her.

Amy’s time at Takoda began back in 2011. She enrolled in the former Nursing Assistant program and then got a job at Southview Acres in St. Paul, where she worked for 5 years. With an interest in the medical field, she enrolled in the Patient Services Specialist (PSS) program in 2015. She then enrolled in the Computer Support Specialist (CSS) program to pair her medical experience with IT skills. Now, Amy is an instructor at Takoda, hoping to give students the same experience she had.

Amy chose Takoda because the classes were short and offered at no-cost, but it was the support from students and staff that kept her coming back.

“I probably wouldn’t have been able to finish without the support of my cohort,” she says. “I was a mother, going to school full time, on public assistance – that made everything 10 times more difficult. At lunch, my cohort would ask why I wasn’t eating. I would tell them that my food stamps hadn’t come in yet. That all the food I had was for my children. They would share their food so I could focus in class.”

“I tried to do traditional college,” says Amy. “It didn’t feel supportive. When I was there with my other classmates they were there to go to class and get out. No one cared about their other classmates. Here, we were together all the time and just became family. The smaller class sizes helped a lot too because I was able to get one-on-one help from instructors.”

The staff at Takoda work diligently to help students succeed. With Amy, it was no different. “I was in a car accident the day before I was supposed to take my state board exams to get my Nursing Assistant certification. The Takoda Institute director helped me reschedule. When I finally took the exam, my instructor took the time to meet me at the Red Cross and wait for me to finish taking the test. She said, ‘you didn’t get to take it with the rest of your classmates. I’ll stay here with you and wait until we find out if you passed,’” Amy said.

“I had to sacrifice a lot to be here,” says Amy, “but it was worth it.”

After earning her PSS certificate, Amy got a paid internship at the Department of Indian Works, was hired as a Health Unit Care Coordinator and was then hired at the Native American Community Clinic.

Amy stayed in contact with faculty and staff at Takoda, and during her third pregnancy, she encouraged her to enroll in Takoda’s Computer Support Specialist (CSS) program. Her instructors noticed how quickly Amy caught on to the learning material and saw her potential to combine her experience in the medical field with IT training.

During the CSS program, she was forced to go on bedrest and couldn’t attend class. “When I didn’t show up for a few days, my instructors called me on a conference call to check in on me. They said, ‘Amy, are you okay? Are you coming to class?’ When they found out I was on bedrest, they found me a laptop so I could work on coursework from home,” says Amy.

Amy’s unique set of skills in healthcare and IT make her an asset in either industry and she is currently sharing those skills as an instructor at Takoda. Amy teaches Customer Service, ServSafe Manager and Food Handler, Keyboarding, and Intro to Microsoft Office. She says her experience as a student informs how she works with students. “I act as an advisor too. I help students with questions and work with other instructors to share my experience as a former student,” she says.

“People ask me how I continue to get such good paying jobs,” says Amy. “I tell them, ‘I came to Takoda.’ I dedicated 6 months of my life to going to school and it paid off.”

Cody Finds Success, Passion, and a Job

Cody enrolled in Takoda Works’ BUILD program and gained the skills to a meaningful career.

The BUILD program is an intensive work program to help Native youth build work and life skills. The first 7 weeks consisted of life skills training and work ethics. The participants were then placed into a 9-week internship in the community. 

 When Cody* was interviewed for the program, he discussed some of the struggles he had, such as dropping out of college and no significant work history. When staff informed Cody of an opportunity to get an internship, he told staff that he would like an internship in the art field. Cody was then accepted into the BUILD program with hopes to help him grow. 

 But Cody had a rocky first 7 weeks – he struggled with tardiness and absences. He also had a lot of outside commitments that took him away from the program but he tried to work the program to the best of his ability.  

 Cody and the BUILD staff worked together to find an internship he would like. They looked for a Native-based program that would be willing to take him on and train him for the job. 

 Cody was placed in an internship at an art gallery where he flourished. His supervisor reported that his attendance was great and that he was excelling in the internship. He told staff that he highly enjoyed the work and was very happy to have this opportunity.  

 After his 9-week internship, staff and supervisors referred him to a local art gallery for a job, which he got. Not only is Cody is making a living and enjoying what he does, but he has re-enrolled in college and just completed his first semester. 

Through hard work and utilzining the resources available to him, Cody found success through the BUILD program at Takoda Works. 

*Participant’s name has been changed for their privacy

Samantha Fairbanks, Social Worker

Jason’s Story

Jason found success at Takoda while taking advantage of the many resources available to him

In a quick conversation with Takoda Institute graduate Jason, it’s clear how much ambition and perseverance he has to better his and his family’s life.

Before enrolling at Takoda, Jason was a window cleaner for over 10 years and worked in various maintenance and other physically straining jobs. Wanting a more sustainable career, Jason enrolled in Takoda to get career training and employment services.

Jason first enrolled in Takoda’s Minnesota Families Investment Program (MFIP), and went on to enroll in Takoda Institute’s Computer Support Specialist training. In 9 months, Jason achieved an accredited certificate, and is currently studying to complete his A+ certification, a credential that will improve his career outlook.

“I was amazed by the amount of support at Takoda. It was overwhelming,” says Jason. “The classes are small, which offers more attention from instructors. The students are friendly, too. We asked each other questions and offered help.”

Over the past year, Jason has become a familiar face at Takoda. He can usually be found studying for his test and searching for jobs in the campus’s Career Resource Center.

From MFIP, to career training, to employment services, Jason has taken advantage all the resources Takoda offers and in turn taken his future into his own hands. In fact, his advice to future Takoda students is to “take advantage of all the resources you have access to. Stay on top of homework and listen to you instructors. Even if you get frustrated, keep working.”

Ivy Estenson, Development Coordinator

Fresh Start for a Single Mother

Pam* is a single mother who started at Takoda in early 2018. She had been homeless with her young son for the past three years. During this time, Pam jumped from shelter to shelter and was desperate to find a shelter that would offer some longevity, stability and one where she could stay with her son until she found housing.

After months of attending training and working with staff at Takoda, she obtained two industry certificates and attended work readiness workshops in preparation for employment.

Completing training was not an easy task as she struggled to find childcare, moved from shelter to shelter and navigated public transportation, but her persistence and the help of Takoda staff helped her succeed.

Takdoa Works staff began working with Pam in her job search, but she continued to struggle as she waited for her name to reach the top of the list for housing. She finally received the phone call she was waiting for that they had a housing site available for her and her child. Pam was elated with the news and told staff, “I will have a place to call home.”

Takoda Works staff continued to work with Pam to find a job. She applied for positions, went on interviews, and was offered a job that will help her earn sustainable income to support her family. Now with a a job and a place to call home, Pam is well on her way to a new and exciting life for her and her son.


*Names have been changed to protect the confidentiality of our participants