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Billboard brings job-hunt success for Rosemount resident

Bennett Olson bought time on an electronic billboard along Interstate 35W going into Minneapolis to promote himself to potential employers.

The $300 Bennett Olson spent to rent space on an electric billboard might have been the best money he ever spent.

The billboard, which Olson took out last month in an attempt to find work, generated local and national media attention and, ultimately, a new job for the Rosemount resident. On May 2, exactly three weeks after the billboard went up, Olson started work as a sales and marketing associate at Bloomington-based Laser Design & GKS Services. He said the job was a direct result of the billboard and all of the attention it generated.

The whole process moved quickly. Olson got an email from the company's vice president, they spoke on the phone and he went in for an interview. He said the company liked his initiative and his entrepreneurial spirit.

Olson, who said he hoped to find a position that allowed him to use social media like Facebook and Twitter to promote a company, spends his time problem-solving with engineers and providing marketing in the form of social media campaigns, video and internet initiatives. He said he liked the company because they are established but still young. He expects to have the chance to learn and grow.

The contact from Laser Design was one of a handful of promising leads Olson got as a result of the billboard. He also got a lot of messages of support and emails directing him to potential job opportunities.

It was a little overwhelming at times. Olson struggled to keep up with the wave of email that hit his inbox every day.

"It's been a big learning experience and very interesting to have all the communication with people and all the attention," Olson said. "A lot of people merely sent me a message just to encourage me."

The communications became more frequent as Olson's story got wider exposure. In addition to the Town Pages, the billboard got attention from both Twin Cities daily newspapers, several local television stations and cable news network CNN. Olson said when the story hit CNN activity picked up a lot. He's had nearly 3,000 hits on his webpage since the billboard went up.