by Denise Felder

Change is the only constant in life. Maybe change excites you. Maybe it's scary when things in your life are different. Either way, major life transitions are stressful. And one of the biggest life changes nearly everyone goes though is looking for a new job. Trying to find the right career path is challenging enough. Now think about how tough it is to find the right career while rebuilding your life after a prison sentence.


Thousands of Minnesotans face these challenges every day. Approximately 6,500 individuals are released each year from Minnesota prisons, according to the Department of Corrections. Many ex-offenders have a hard time finding livable wages jobs partially because they do not know how to identify their skills or what their career options are.


STEP AHEAD: Career Information for People with Felony Convictions is a new website created to help ex-offenders with job search and career planning. The website uses data from and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, along with information from the Department of Corrections, the Minnesota WorkForce Centers and other trusted sources, to give people with felony convictions the information they need to make good choices.


The six career-planning steps in STEP AHEAD can be used by anyone who wants to find the right career fit, discover job-training options, or learn how to advance in his or her career.


Highlights of STEP AHEAD include:

  • Assess Yourself: Identify work skills; Interest and values assessments
  • Explore Careers: Job vs. career; Wages and other details for 500 occupations
  • Create a Plan & Set Goals: Make SMART goals; Realistic expectations
  • Expand Skills: Search for training options; Skills gained in prison
  • Find a Job: Barred and restricted occupations; Connect with employers
  • Manage Your Career: Overcome obstacles; Cost of living


All Minnesotans benefit from helping soon-to-be released inmates and ex-offenders to find useful career and job-training information. Employers can hire skilled, motivated workers they might not otherwise consider. Ex-offenders are more likely to find good-paying jobs to support themselves and their families. And local communities can welcome neighbors ready to live stable, productive lives.


Anyone with Internet access can find STEP AHEAD online. Residents of Minnesota State Correctional Facilities can access STEP AHEAD on their internal Offender Network.