Layoffs Spur Workers To Pursue Passions

By Staff

April 17, 2009

Some laid-off workers are taking the opportunity to pursue their career dreams by going back to school or launching new businesses.

The Boston Globe reports that the New England School of Photography is adding more entrepreneurial courses to help career changers, hobbyists and veteran photographers. Similarly, the North Bennet Street School, which teaches locksmithing, bookbinding and furniture making, added 39 courses to its spring and summer curriculum.

"This is the place of second careers," explained Miguel Gomez-Ibanez, the North Bennet Street School director. "We do get those people [who think], 'Well, if I'm not doing what I was supposed to be doing, maybe I should be doing what I really want to do.'"

Michael Silva, who was laid off at a financial services company last year, decided to instead pursue a career in photography. He took a course in marketing, copyrights and self-promotion at the New England School of Photography and is now launching a website and starting his own photography business.

"I have enough confidence in my own ability. . . . I feel I can hopefully be successful at this," noted Silva.

Similarly, Kansas' The Wichita Eagle [from an article originally located at] reports that after Andy Mullen lost his position as a quality engineer at Cessna, he decided to pursue his passion for computers. He combined his savings and severance and launched a full-service information technology firm from his living room. He now has about 200 clients.

"I wanted to get into something I would be happy doing," he explained. "I needed more control over my future, sure, but I wanted something I was more passionate about."

The Globe notes that the School of the Museum of Fine Arts reports that classes in jewelry making, painting and digital photography are filling up earlier than usual this spring. Debra Samdperil, SMFA's director of continuing education, commented that people "are valuing being in touch with that part of themselves through this hard time."

In a related article, The Wall Street Journal reports that some workers are pursuing more gratifying careers even while still employed in other jobs. Such was the case with Fresia Rodriguez, who decided to become a fashion designer while working full time at a magazine geared toward retirees. She applied to art school and later launched a plus-size clothing line.

"I learned quickly to maximize my time," she said. "On the train home from work, I'd be sketching the next collection. In the shower, I'd be going down my to-do list."

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