Disability Services

Employment and Job Support

Two woman and a man looking at a laptop.


Our comprehensive disability employment services help adults and youth explore strengths, interests and get ready for work.  Learn how employment may impact your public benefits, participate in paid transitional work experience at real work sites or find a job with a variety of employers and get support in your new role.


Employment and Job Support

Personalized, flexible job placement services are the heart of GESMN’s mission; we work closely with job seekers and employers to connect people to a career.

  • Explore goals, strengths, and interests and plan for a career.

  • Prepare for interviews and build personal skills in employment & career readiness trainings.
  • Shadow a professionals or try-out job.
  • Receive ongoing job support from experienced staff to ensure success.

For information, contact: 

Elk River, Monticello & St. Cloud - Julie Danda 320-654-9527 ext. 108

Hutchinson, Mankato & Willmar - Shelly Bormann 320-214-9238

Twin Cities - Kyle Van Acker 651-379-5957

Individualized Placement and Support (IPS)

IPS services provide tailored job placement, job support and career navigation to Olmsted County residents seeking treatment at Zumbro Valley Health Center in partnership with GESMN. Career navigators’ partner with mental health practitioners to offer individualized support.

Retail Skills Training

Retail Skills Training is an eight-week course designed to provide job skills for the retail industry. Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota provides individuals with an average of 10 hours of paid training per week. This is a referral based program only and not open to the general public.

What to expect

  • 160-hour course
  • Hands-on work experience at local retail businesses
  • Instructions in retail terminology, customer service, safety, cashiering, stocking, time management, communication skills, problem-solving and conflict resolution
  • Guest speakers from within the retail industry
  • Financial literacy training
  • Employment readiness training - resume development, application preparation, interview skills, job search and retention skills training
  • Assistance with job placement and follow-up services for graduates
  • Support to achieve long-term career goals

Due to COVID-19, most classes have moved to an online format.

For information, contact:

St. Cloud - Julie Danda 320-654-9527 ext. 108

Twin Cities -  Andrea West 651-379-5634

Disability Benefits Support

Photo of a woman in a wheelchair smiling.

Work Incentives Connection (WIC)

WIC just received $1.3 million for five years in a new cooperative agreement award from social security to operate the only Work Incentives Planning and Assistance project in Minnesota.

Minnesota’s only Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) Program

Get disability benefits planning help from experts about Social Security work incentives designed to help you succeed if you are working or want to work. 

  • Understand the options and possibilities to help you make informed choices about increasing work earnings or going to work.
  • Work incentives make it possible to keep some or all of your benefits while exploring work, during a transition period or while working.
  • A variety of services are available ranging from information and referral, in-depth problem solving, to a customized benefit analysis with long-term follow up available.

To be eligible, you must be a Social Security beneficiary with a disability from 14 to full retirement age, this includes transition to work aged youth and veterans.

Knowledgeable staff called Community Work Incentives Coordinators (CWICs) certified by Virginia Commonwealth University can show how you are ahead by working in most cases.  Services are provided in partnership with Minnesota Vocational Rehabilitation Services and the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) project of the Social Security Administration. No person served will be charged a fee for services.

Getting Started

Anyone with questions about work and disability benefits planning can call the hotline. This includes beneficiaries who are working, have a job offer pending or previously received WIPA services.

Call the hotline at 1-800-976-6728 (toll-free) or 651-632-5113 (MN Relay – 711). Or email workincentivesconnection@gesmn.org

For Vocational Rehabilitation Services referrals only, contact rkschuette@gesmn.org.

For general information about the Ticket to Work and work incentives, contact the Ticket to Work help line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 TTY, or visit Choose Work!

Helpful resources

2021 Medicare Handbook

2020 Red Book


WIPA is funded through a cooperative agreement with the Social Security Administration (Social Security) at taxpayer expense. While Social Security has reviewed this material for technical accuracy, it is not an official Social Security publication.

Transitional Employment

Photo of a man and woman sitting and talking at a desk in an office.

Transitional Employment

People with disabilities can get exposure to work through hands-on, paid experience at employer partner sites.

  • Identify employment strengths and barriers, set goals and start a career
  • Build fundamental work and interviewing skills, develop career goals and get assistance with job searching
  • Explore employment interests through informational interviews and by shadowing people in specific occupations
  • Research employers and job fit, understand resumes, the application process and interview skills
  • Transition aged youth get on-the-job learning, receive ongoing performance feedback and support to manage workplace expectations

For more information, complete this form or contact: 

Elk River, Monticello & St. Cloud - Julie Danda 320-654-9527 ext 108

Hutchinson, Mankato & Willmar - Shelly Bormann 320-214-9238

Twin Cities - Andrea West 651-379-5634

On-the-Job Evaluation

Our evaluation helps people with disabilities identify challenges to employment and better understand the skills, strengths and accommodations that will help them succeed at their jobs.

  • Take an evaluation in a real work environment.
  • Build essential skills like communication, safety, work quality and more.
  • Receive employment recommendations that match individual skills and abilities.

For more information, complete this form or call 651-379-5603.

Student Career Services

Woman with glasses standing outside holding a binder and some notebooks.

Student Career Services

The transition from youth to adulthood is critical for every young person and extra support is available for students with disabilities. GESMN helps students ages 14-21 with disabilities gain experience to inform career decisions.

Workplace Readiness Training: Prepare for careers, build common employment skills and positive work habits and understand the impact of work on public benefits.

  • Benefits information services
  • Independent Living Services or Soft Skills Training
  • Job-seeking Skills Training
  • Public Transportation Training

Job Exploration Transition Counseling: Explore industries and individual jobs to make informed career decisions.

Postsecondary Educational Counseling: Get help making the next steps to college.

Introduction to Self-advocacy: Understand and confidently communicate strengths, needs and interests.

Work-based Learning: Receive hands on-the-job support and coaching while gaining experience and skills.

Introductory Work Activities: Use real work examples to share knowledge and skills that help students connect academic learning to real-life work activities.

  • Career mentoring
  • Informational interviews
  • Job shadowing
  • Workplace tours and field trips

Contact us

Elk River, Monticello & St. Cloud

Julie Danda

320-654-9527 ext 108

Hutchinson, Mankato & Willmar

Shelly Bormann


Twin Cities

Andrea West


Virtual Pre-ETS Classes

Student looking at laptop and smiling.

Virtual Classes for Students with Disabilities

Students ages 14-21 with a disability can gain experience to prepare for a career. Virtual classes are available every month in the areas of:

  • Job Exploration Counseling
  • Work Based Learning
  • Work Readiness Training
  • Counseling Post-Secondary Education
  • Self Advocacy

YOU MUST HAVE A VOCATIONAL REHAB (VRS) REFERRAL TO REGISTER FOR VIRTUAL CLASSES. Rate is $75/hour for individuals and  $30 for groups of two or more.

Contact goodwillPreETs@gesmn.org for questions. 

Featured Class

Career Speaker Wednesdays

Learn about a specific job from someone who knows. A professional speaks about their career progression, starting from their first job, education, and where they are now. There will be time for questions and in-depth learning. See class times and dates under Job Exploration Counseling below. 

Virtual Class Reservation


Benefits Information Services

Benefits: understand how they are affected if you work

What you need to know and who you can ask questions about how your benefits (social security disability, SSI) may be affected if you choose to work.

Class time: 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.

Independent Living Skills and Soft Skills Training

Customer service skills & cashier training

Learn about customer service, making change, money counting and safety considerations in the workplace.

Attend 4 one-hour classes.

Class time: 2 – 3 p.m.

Employers won’t always tell you what you need to be successful, but we will

Learn critical information employers may not tell you that you will be responsible for, including expectations for interactions, paperwork, self-affirmation, ability to make change and much more.

Attend 2 one-hour classes.

Class time: 9 – 10 a.m.

Employment skills you need to know

Learn the skills employers say are essential in today’s job market, including the differences between school and work expectations, social media, workplace communication and culture, important employment paperwork, why showing up is top priority, how to get along with co-workers and supervisors and advocating for yourself.

Attend 3 one-hour classes.

Class time: 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Be prepared to take your next step with confidence

Reduce your fear of the unknown and fear of change and make the next step with confidence and empowerment. Learn affirmations, goals, skills, professional paperwork, technology, skills, job search basics and self-advocacy.

Attend 3 two-hour classes.

Class time: 9 – 11 a.m.

What is great customer service?

Build an awareness of the value of customer service using interactive tools and practical ideas that encompass transferable skills to prepare students for serving others in future employment.

Attend 2 one-hour classes.

Class time: 12 – 1 p.m.

Learn how to be a great team member in the workplace

Learn the necessity of teamwork on the job using interactive tools and practical ideas highlighting assertiveness and roadblocks to teamwork.

Attend 2 one-hour classes.

Class time: 12 – 1 p.m.

What you need to know: professional technology, programs & meetings

Description: Platforms used in virtual meetings, preparing for meetings, and tips/tricks for using professional programs like Word and Excel.

Attend 2 one-hour classes.

Class time: 1 – 2 p.m.

Working from home

Learn about types of at-home careers, skills needed to work from home and how to prepare to work from home.

Attend 2 one-hour classes.

Class time: 3 – 4 p.m.

Budgeting for my life

Learn about expenses and how much you need to make to be able to afford things like rent, pets, transportation, food and living on your own.

Attend 3 one-hour classes.

Class time: 10 – 11 a.m.

Professional communication

Professional etiquette in the virtual world, and what you need to know about texts, emails and phone calls.

Class time: 1 – 2 p.m

Instruction in Self-Advocacy

Self-Advocacy at work, school and home

How to communicate what you need at school and during a job search.

Attend 2 one hour classes

Class time: 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.

How to speak up for yourself: as an employee

How to communicate what you need on the job, including accommodations.

Class time: 9 – 10 a.m.

Job Seeking Skills Training

Job search basics

How to fill out a job application online and in-person. Learn what employers look for on an application and what may get you in the door for an interview. Understand matching keywords with what online assessments are looking for. Get ideas for who and how to ask for employment references.

Attend 3 one-hour classes.

Class time: 10 – 11 a.m.

Resume Workshop

Understand basic resumes, including tips and tricks about businesses that require scannable resumes. Includes a handout you will be able to take away and use in your job search.

Attend 2 one-hour classes.

Prerequisite: Application basics.

Class time: 10 – 11 a.m.

Identify the hidden skills you have that employers need

Discover your marketable strengths and abilities, transferable skills and the most effective ways to present them to a potential employer. Learn how volunteer work, skills you learned at church, training or school can be applied to resume and interviews.

Attend 3 one-hour classes.

Class time: 12 – 1 p.m.

What is a network and why do I need one?

Learn who you know that could be a connection, how to do job search outside of an application, connecting on social media, and more.

Attend 3 one-hour classes.

Class time: 9 – 10 a.m.

State and federal jobs

Review qualifications and descriptions of disability programs. Learn about requirements for jobs and how to understand and navigate job descriptions.

Attend 1 one-hour class

Class time: 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Organization for your job search

Ideas for organizing your job search, including both virtual and paper resources to track of usernames and passwords, job leads, digital job search engines and more.

Class time: 2 – 3 p.m.

From interviewing to starting a job: everything you need to know

What to say and not to say in an interview. Includes interview questions, appearance and presentation, plus interview dos and don’ts. Practice to become more comfortable in an interview. How and when to talk about having a record.

Attend 3 one-hour cleass

Class time: 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.

Accepting and starting a job

Review onboarding paperwork and benefits, how to prepare for filling out documents, what questions to ask, turnaround times and more.

Class time: 12 – 1 p.m.

First day on the job

What to expect on your first day at work including needed documentation, orientation, safety plan and policies expected during COVID and workplace culture.

Class time: 10 – 11 a.m.

In-demand careers

We will share which careers will be in-demand in the next 10 years.

Class time: 9 – 10 a.m.

Job Exploration Counseling

Career Speaker Wednesdays

Learn about a specific job from a professional speaking about their career progression, starting from their first job, education and where they are now. There will be time for questions and in-depth learning.

Class time: Wednesday, 1 – 2 p.m.

Total preparation! Employment planning after high school

Learn about type of jobs, where to look for jobs, determining your availability, transportation plans, and references.

Attend 4 one-hour classes.

Class Time: 1 – 2 p.m.

Career exploration

Explore career interests and learn where to find information about careers through videos and web tools discovering jobs that are right for you. Match up your work skills and interests to potential jobs. Explore hobbies, interests and how they tie into employment.

Attend 2 one-hour classes.

Class Time: 1 – 2 p.m.

Industry training

Learn key skills required for jobs, which employers hire for this kind of work, readiness and compatibility for the industry, a virtual tour and more about the job from industry professionals.



Jobs such as administrative assistant, receptionist and medical office specialist.

Attend 4 one-hour classes.

Class time: 12 – 1 p.m.


Jobs such as veterinarian technician, groomer, animal boarder.

Attend 4 one-hour classes.

Class time: 2 – 3 p.m.

Finance and Customer Service

Jobs such as a bank teller, courtesy clerk, customer service representative, sales associate or cashier.

Attend 4 one-hour classes.

Class time: 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.

Food Service

Jobs such as cook, server, catering, food trucks, restaurants, fast food.

Attend 4 one-hour classes.

Class time: 2 – 3 p.m.

Health Science

Jobs such as a personal care assistant (PCA), certified nursing assistant (CNA) and dietary aide.

Attend 4 one-hour classes.

Class time: 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.


Jobs such as a custodian, housekeeper, laundry attendant, food preparation worker, dishwasher and crew member.

Attend 4 one-hour classes.

Class time: 10:30am-11:30am


Jobs such as landscaper, arborist, snow removal, lifeguard, and painters.

Attend 4 one-hour classes.

Class time: 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.

Skilled Trades

Jobs such as carpenter, electrician, construction worker, and heavy equipment operator.

Attend 4 one-hour classes.

Class time: 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.


Jobs such as game designer, software developer, and IT help desk.

Attend 4 one-hour classes.

Class time: 2 – 3 p.m.


Jobs such as drivers, delivery, and heavy equipment.

Attend 4 one-hour classes.

Class time: 9 – 10 a.m.


Jobs such as school paraprofessional, child care provider and youth corrections.

Attend 4 one-hour classes.

Class Time: 2 – 3 p.m.

Post-Secondary Education Counseling

Planning: what is after graduation?

Learn about financing (scholarships/FAFSA), college majors and career interests, school resources, how to find a good college/tech school/training and how to advocate for what you need.

Attend 4 one-hour classes.

Class Time: 2 – 3 p.m.

Distance learning at college

What you need to know about the difference between in-person and distance learning, how to prepare for distance learning and what to consider.

Attend 2 one-hour classes.

Class time: 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.

Next steps: what is after high school?

Learn about how to take the next step to college, technical school and/or work. Understand the difference between technical college, community college and a state college. Discover what may be right for you and how to move forward in planning for next steps.

Class time: 1 – 2 p.m.

Public Transportation Training

Public transportation and a job

How to choose a job based on your transportation options. How to use public transportation including planning a trip, rules of riding the bus, how to pay for a bus/train ride, staying safe, using the Metro Transit website and how to plan trips using Metro Mobility.

Attend 2 one-hour classes.

Class time: 3 – 4 p.m.

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