Fates and Fortunes

The bright side of unemployment

7/14/2009 07:27:45 PM

If you are like me, the constant drum beat of bad employment news is freaking you out. In my own life, when the fog of economic fear lifts for a brief moment, I have the optimistic sense that perhaps these downtimes really represent an opportunity for drastic and necessary change: to refocus careers, to live more financially responsibly and to reset priorities.

Here, CNN reports on a couple of people who managed to turn their lay-offs into something better.

Alice Azzopardi was upset when she was laid off at Christmas. But very quickly she learned that she had been accepted into an accelerated nursing program and that she qualified for a state-funded initiative that would pay for her tuition.

Trent Vondrasek, a highly-paid auto-industry consultant, took a lesser-paid (unpaid? The article doesn’t really say) position as an intern in the Lansing, Mich., mayor’s office, which is allowing him to pursue his dream of working in public service. He’s also finally completing his college education.

CNN’s article provides several tips and resources for people who are looking to change careers, something that can be intimidating and difficult if you were already mid-career.

Among those tips:

– Volunteer in the area in which you would like to work. This will not only acquaint you with the demands and skills of your new chosen field, it will help you network with potential employers

– Pursue a new career in an area in which you already excel, even though you may not have worked in that area in the past. For example, if you are a great cook, you might consider catering, working in a restaurant or furthering your skills in culinary school.

– Follow your passion. You might have ended up in your last career just out of a series of circumstances. As you look for new work, this might be the time to finally take that chance and try your hand at what you’ve always wanted to do. Obviously, follow the money applies here too. If you’ve been a highly-paid lawyer, but acting has always been your passion, and now you have a wife and three kids and college looming, your passion might have to remain something you pursue in community theater on nights and weekends.

– Use some of your time off to accomplish a long-delayed but career-related task, like writing a book or taking classes. If you never finished school or you’ve always wanted an MBA, this might be the time to return. This article recommends avoiding back-to-school shock by first taking a class and getting your feet wet before jumping in whole hog.

–  Don’t let the thought that you are too old to change careers — or do anything really — stop you. I do have friends who have been working for the same company since they graduated from college, but for the most, gone is the time when you got yourself a job and worked there until you started pulling a pension 40 years later.

– Network, network, network. This can be a full-time job unto itself, but taking your old mentor out to lunch and having a heart-to-heart is far more effective than sending a “looking for work” email to 150 of your closest friends or posting a “please give me a job” status update on Facebook.

I found this article courtesy of Blair Underwood – yes, the real incredibly delectable Blair Underwood – on Twitter. I don’t think he’s looking for work himself, but I still appreciated the post. You can follow him too at www.twitter.com/BlairUnderwood. While we’re at it, you can follow BCFates at www.twitter.com/BCFates or me — which involves receiving a wide variety of TV and other tweets – at www.twitter.com/PaigeA.

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