MI Shifting Gears helps provide job seekers with a roadmap to their next great career

Friday, August 1, 2014

Michigan Shifting Gears, an intensive career transition initiative sponsored by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, kicks off its next three-month session on Wednesday, September 3, 2014.

Lansing, Mich.—Michigan Shifting Gears, an intensive career transition initiative sponsored by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, kicks off its next three-month session on Wednesday, September 3, 2014. Registration for the Fall 2014 session, taking place in Auburn Hills, Grand Rapids, and Traverse City is open now through Friday, August 22. 

“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 seeking 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, entrepreneurial start-ups, and non-profits. Launched in 2009 by Ann Arbor SPARK and Sensei Change Associates, Michigan Shifting Gears is a unique opportunity for seasoned professionals and other transitioning job seekers to learn how to put their talent and experience to work in “new economy” career opportunities.

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 or non-profit. 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 participating in the Fall 2014 session must complete the informational overview and Q&A session, and register no later than Friday, August 22.


  • Discounted registration ($550) deadline: Midnight, Monday, August 11
  • Final registration ($575) deadline: Midnight, Friday, August 22 (deadline will NOT be extended)

Payment plans are available. 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.

And while this program was developed to help corporate talent transition into small businesses, it is not only appropriate for individuals interested in transitioning into a small company. Michigan Shifting Gears’ transformational focus translates to any work environment, company size, industry, or sector. It helps participants discover new possibilities, things they hadn’t previously considered, including starting their own business.

Mary Beth Sarhatt of Kalamazoo took part in the Fall 2013 session and has started her own counseling, public speaking and teaching and retreat leading business, With You. She says she would have never dreamed of starting her own business without the help of Michigan Shifting Gears.

“I signed up for Michigan Shifting Gears because I was in work transition. I needed help to discover what positions were available and what the new economy looked like, to navigate looking for work in 2014 and how to write a resume and use social media to connect with others,” Sarhatt said. “Shifting Gears gave me a great group of people to work through those questions with, support and encouragement, a place to be accountable and the tools to start my own business. Shifting Gears gave me confidence in my skills and ability to create a job that fits me. I encourage people to invest in this opportunity; it will be life-affirming and life-changing.” 

Mary Gillett of Traverse City also participated in Michigan Shifting Gears. She said the program gave her the boost she needed to pursue a track she created herself.

“The greatest gift I received from Shifting Gears was a renewed enthusiasm and confidence that I had more to offer and that I could put the pieces together in a different format,” Gillett said. “I am currently in the process of forming a new consulting and writing business, Sparks & Starts. Shifting Gears allowed me to find new ways to build on work I’ve done for decades.”

Visit http://www.mitalent.org/michigan-shifting-gears-program/ to learn more about the prerequisites for enrolling in the Michigan Shifting Gears Fall 2014 session. For more information, contact a Michigan Shifting Gears program manager at TalentTeam@michigan.org.

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit www.MichiganBusiness.org. For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at www.michigan.org. Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.