LANSING (WWJ) — Michigan Shifting Gears, an intensive career transition initiative sponsored by the Michigan Economic Development Corp., plans to kick off two new three-month sessions on Tuesday, Jan. 21.

Registration for the Winter 2014 session is open now through Friday, Jan. 10. The sessions are taking place in Ann Arbor and the Great Lakes Bay region.

“Michigan’s small businesses and entrepreneurs are growing and searching for qualified talent to help their companies move in the right direction,” said Michael Finney, president and CEO of the MEDC. “At the same time, many talented Michiganders are searching for new career opportunities. Michigan Shifting Gears provides participants with strategies for a successful career transition, and growing companies with the skilled workers they need to succeed.”

The program is designed to help experienced professionals, returning veterans, stay-at-home parents and others facing a career crossroads fine-tune their skills to fit the needs of small businesses and entrepreneurial start-ups. Launched in 2009 by Ann Arbor Spark and Sensei Change ssociates, Michigan Shifting Gears allows seasoned professionals and other transitioning job seekers to learn how to put their talent and experience to work in an entrepreneurial environment.

Participants in Michigan Shifting Gears receive a professional career assessment and career coaching, attend eight days of workshops, participate in networking events, and take part in a three-day small business simulation. Participants are paired with volunteer mentors from the entrepreneurial community who work one-on-one to review their resumes, provide career advice, and help with their career transition.  

Each Michigan Shifting Gears participant also must complete an 80-hour pro bono internship with a small business. The internship provides valuable first-hand experience in a small business environment. In turn, Michigan Shifting Gears interns bring valuable skills and business expertise to their host companies.

Prior to registration, interested individuals are required to participate in an informational program overview and Q&A webinar where they will have the opportunity to ask questions about the program. Following completion of the overview, participants will receive a link to register for the program. Anyone interested in attending the Winter 2014 session must complete the informational overview and Q&A session, and register no later than Friday, Jan. 10.

The date for discounted registration of $550 is midnight Monday, Dec. 30. Final registration at $575 will be accepted through midnight Friday, Jan. 10. No extensions of the deadline will be accepted. Payment plans are available for the fee. The MEDC underwrites the balance of the program cost to help the state retain and retool top talent to meet the needs of Michigan’s small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Michigan Shifting Gears has an impressive rate of success, with 51 percent of graduates landing new jobs within three months of completing the program. Sixty-five percent of graduates land positions within six months, and 84 percent find work within nine or more months.

Patrick Ora of Midland worked at Dow Corning as a project manager until he was laid off in 2012. He participated in the Fall 2012 session of Michigan Shifting Gears, landing a job as enterprise content management system administrator with Mid-Michigan Health less than two months after graduating from the program. He said the most significant aspect of the program was being able to share time with individuals with varied backgrounds who were in similar circumstances.

“As the program went on, a bunch of strangers became acquaintances, and then friends, who not only shared difficult circumstances, but who were actively working toward resolving the challenges that each faced,” Ora said. “When a member of the group would land a job, secure an interview or just get some positive feedback, the entire group felt good for that person and knew their time would come. Ultimately, I think the experience restored my self-confidence, which had been shaken, and propelled me to pick myself back up and get on with living. It was a very rewarding endeavor.”

For more information, contact a Michigan Shifting Gears program manager at

“Michigan is blessed with a talented workforce possessing skills and expertise we can’t afford to lose,” said Amy Cell, senior vice president for talent enhancement at MEDC. “Michigan Shifting Gears is one way we can help these transitioning professionals and at the same time provide employers with the top-notch talent they need to thrive and grow.”

For more on the MEDC and its initiatives, visit: For Michigan travel news, updates and information, visit


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