Workers Forging New Career Paths

By Staff
June 1, 2009

The recession and layoffs are prompting many workers to re-invent their careers, either by looking for work that is more fulfilling or by simply finding a job that is more available.

The Washington Post reports that after being laid off from a job as a sales and marketing director, Maxine Gill of Maryland invested about $60,000 in a franchise, College Nannies & Tutors. Her company hires people to be placed with families temporarily or on a long-term basis.

Gill was happy to be able to open her own business. "If I were still in corporate America, I would have to work extra hard, and I would have to travel," she said. "You've got to do more now because of the economic recession to keep your job. People like me, who have been laid off, are reassessing what they want out of life and what they need to do."

Similarly, Laura Murray, a lawyer who ran a crisis-management consulting business in New York, was forced to close her doors after clients could no longer afford her services. Drawing on her love of politics and public policy, she decided to move to Washington, D.C., and is now pursuing jobs at federal agencies or with a private-sector group that works with the government.

"I view this as an opportunity," she told the Post, "and I'm not going to waste it."

Career experts agree that a job loss can be an opportunity. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review lists a number of people who have tried new career paths, including a business executive who became a personal historian, an office manager who started a pet-sitting business, and a non-profit administrator who is beginning a career in real estate. All work out of their homes or a local office where they set their own hours.

College graduates are also increasingly accepting "bridge jobs" which provide steady work until finding employment in their desired fields. CNN reports that according to the State of the Student Survey recently released by DeVry University, 50 percent of college graduates have already changed or plan to change their career paths.

Shalyn Pugh of Vancouver, Washington, for example, changed her plans for a career in environmental education and outreach after not being able to land a single interview after an eight-month job search. When her brother-in-law informed her about a position as a Web QA specialist at his company, she decided to take the opportunity. Now she is learning about HTML coding, search engine optimization and building Web pages.

While Pugh's job is very different from the one she imagined, she is enjoying her new responsibilities. "I believe the skills I'm gaining now will be more than useful in the future regardless of the industry I'm working in," she said.

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