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South dakota

Workforce Success Story Submitted By:
South Dakota Department of Labor


Meet Tara

Workforce Challenge

Tara Poncelet, age 20, grew up on a horse farm. Deciding that postsecondary education was not a path for her to follow, she wanted to work in an office setting. However, with only seasonal/short-term experiences to outline on job applications, she was finding that job hunting in the economic downturn offered only limited options. In order to maintain her housing, she was working out her rent by doing repairs on the rental house in rural South Dakota. She came to the Department of Labor for assistance in finding work.

Workforce Solution

Tara's rural background was just what the Superintendent of Horse Shows for the South Dakota State Fair needed with the start of summer. Despite limited formal computer application knowledge, Tara seemed to inherently know how to create and track contestants, stall assignments, contests, required veterinary authorizations, etc. Soon she was not only handling incoming calls for the horse division, but other animal divisions as well.

As the summer progressed and others became more stressed with the fast-approaching start of the fair, Tara seemed to become even more confident, able to see what needed to be done and do it. She was recruited to the main office to help answer incoming calls and quickly learned how to use the software applications.

Outcomes & Benefits

All the staff appreciated her communication skills and willingness to ask questions in order to do the job correctly. After her work experience placement ended, State Fair staff wanted to keep Tara as a regular employee. She was hired by the State Fair Board into a full-time secretarial position, making $9.29 per hour plus benefits. She likes working for the state fair office but knows even if there wasn’t a job for her, she would have a much better work history and references for the next job search. Congratulations, Tara!


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