Job solutions at summer camp

Running a business for the unemployed keeps Patricia Berg especially busy lately. Berg, CEO of Career Partners International in Minneapolis, said with so many people losing their jobs, she’s been trying a lot of different things to help them get back into the working world.

On June 29, she’ll present her message on how to be successful in the job market as part of Out-of-Work Camp, six free Monday evening seminars, each of which will include an expert in the area of career strategies, employment resources or even household spending.     

The camp runs June 15–July 27 at Tejas Restaurant near 50th Street and France Avenue and is primarily about networking, camaraderie and formulating action plans, said Marsha Buchok of Edina Community Education, the main sponsor of the series. The camp will fulfill a growing need among the organization’s constituents, Buchok said.    

“This is something that’s very relevant today,” Buchok said. “Because people are having to look at the role that work plays in their life as well as employment and how it impacts their life whether we have it or we don’t.”         

In an effort to attract people of all ages, Buchok has been promoting the series on networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. A column in the Star Tribune also boosted awareness. The day the column came out, people began registering for the camp as early as 9 a.m., Buchok said. By that afternoon, more than 20 people had registered. Registration for the camp is not required and attendees can go to as many or as few sessions as they wish.     

The speakers include an addiction counselor, an insurance specialist, a realtor, a Star Tribune columnist and several job placement professionals. Topics range from controlling one’s negative emotions after a loss, affording mortgage, rent and health insurance, being competitive in the job market, workforce centers and other resources available for the unemployed and tips on trimming spending.

The camp will kick off with author and counselor John Prin on June 15 who will address the importance of dealing with negative emotions like anger, fear, shock and grief before trying to find a new job.

“You have to distance yourself or quiet yourself, take a deep breath and practice what I call acceptance,” Prin said.

Shawnee Christenson of InsuranceSmart in New Hope said with the increase in unemployment, many are without health insurance. Her presentation on June 22 will focus on the different health insurance options for those without jobs. She will focus on individual insurance plans and how the COBRA program will work with the federal stimulus package.

Recently, she said she’s seen a large increase in people purchasing short-term insurance plans. Although they don’t cover pre-existing conditions, they’re cheap, she said.

“They want to be covered for the big things that are unknown yet,” she said.     Given the increased competition in the job market, Berg will focus on teaching attendees the critical components of being competitive and standing out. She will discuss how to invest time wisely to get the greatest overall payback from job search efforts. The shift toward social media networking can be overwhelming to some, so Berg will also be discussing the role that tools such as Twitter can play in one’s job campaign.     

Tejas will provide free chips, salsa and soda and a cash bar will also be available. Buchok said she chose Tejas because she wants the camps to be casual and fun, not like the usual school or business setting.

“I didn’t want it to be stuffy,” she said.

Even though times are tough, there are still good things going on, Berg said.

“There are a lot of businesses and a lot of people out there who are really reaching out to help those people who are unemployed,” Berg said. “And one of the big things that happens at a time like this is the community comes together and I think this is a great example of that.”

Reach Tara Bannow at [email protected] or 436-4363.

Out-of-Work Camp
When: 5–7 p.m. Monday evenings, June 15–July 27 (no camp July 6)
Where: Tejas Restaurant, 3910 W. 50th St.
Cost: Free; registration recommended at or by calling 952-848-3956