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From business student to business owner, with a little help from JOIN Inc.

JOIN Work Experience leads to management, entrepreneurship


Andrew Peterson received support from JOIN Inc. to earn his Entrepreneurship Certificate from Great Basin College and is now the general manager of Diamondchippers, as well as a small business owner.

ELKO, Nev. – Andrew Peterson was working at a smoothie bar while attending Great Basin College and working towards his Entrepreneurial Certificate. Julie Robertson, a case manager at JOIN Inc., Northern Nevada’s Career training agency, was a frequent customer at the smoothie bar and told him about the organization’s work experience, or WEX, program.


The program piqued Peterson’s interest, he said, because he had been looking for financial support to help him with his classes at Great Basin College.


JOIN, Inc. is a private 501 (c)(3) organization that provides services to eligible individuals in Northern Nevada that include training and coaching in employment skills, tuition assistance, work experience and more. The JOIN Inc. WEX program reimburses employers up to 100 percent of the employee’s first 12 weeks of wages, making it feasible for employers to hire and train new employees. Prior to employment, JOIN recruits, screens and provides participants with occupational training and certificates.

“Before the program, I was struggling with how I was going to pay for school,” Peterson said. “I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go career-wise.”


He scheduled an appointment with Robertson, who administered a career assessment and helped him figure out what kind of career he wanted to pursue. She then set out to find an employer that would be a good match for Peterson.


Robertson approached Chip Stone, owner of Diamondchipppers, a rolled ice cream store in Elko, about doing a WEX with Peterson. Because Peterson was taking classes for his Entrepreneurial Certificate and Stone was looking for a management professional, Robertson thought they would be a great fit.


Peterson was hired at the inception of the ice cream shop and was instrumental in setting up the store. Peterson’s WEX has ended but he is still employed as a manager at the ice cream shop.


Stone is a local entrepreneur who also owns Stonecraft Jewelers in Elko. He said he has always been a proponent of programs such as this one, recognizing their value and seeing how they can change lives.


“I actually started on a similar program in Utah 35 years ago when I became a jeweler,” Stone said. “I looked at this as an opportunity to give back to somebody else.”

JOIN Inc.’s WEX program has been a great experience for both Stone and Peterson, they said. Stone said he has seen Peterson’s growth firsthand and noted that he has come miles since his initial hiring; gaining confidence and business skills.


“I don’t think enough people know about JOIN Inc. and the benefits they offer,” Stone said. “It would be great if there would be a way to get the word out to employers about the incentives. I don’t think a lot of employers realize how easy it really is.”


Peterson said his dream has always been to own his own business, which, he said, his position at Diamondchipppers has prepared him for. He now owns a small photo booth business with his sister, in addition to working with Stone.


JOIN Inc. covers all of Northern Nevada’s 13 counties and has seven regional offices in Elko, Ely, Winnemucca, Fallon, Fernley, Reno and Carson City. For more information on JOIN Inc.’s programs for career seekers and employers, visit www.join.org, or call the Elko office at (775) 753-1700.


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Photo cutline: Chip Stone (right) of Diamondchippers hired Andrew Peterson through a Work Experience program by JOIN Inc., which provided Stone with reimbursement for much of Peterson’s first 12 weeks of employment.


Photo cutline: Andrew Peterson received support from JOIN Inc. to earn his Entrepreneurship Certificate from Great Basin College and is now the general manager of Diamondchippers, as well as a small business owner.


JOIN Inc. is a private, non-profit workforce development agency. JOIN Inc is a 501 (c)(3) and receives private donations and grants, along with state and federal grant funding. Services are provided at no cost to both job seekers and employers. The organization provides access to career training in each of its local job markets and in industry sectors with the most employment potential for clients who meet eligibility requirements.

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