It has been said that more and more people will experience several career changes in a lifetime, with many looking at such a change during the current economic crisis.
The Searching for Work group at the Presbyterian Church in Westfield is no different. Many of the members are looking to make a career switch to a new career, looking to transform a hobby or volunteer position into a new career. Last week, the group focused on Liz and her desire to make animal rescue a new career.
Liz has already undergone one career transition when she chose to move from insurance to construction. During a career in construction, she moved from the customer relations end to project management, helping to put together land deals and development projects. With the downturn the real estate industry has seen, particularly the near halting of most large scale new development projects across northern New Jersey, Liz found herself laid off and looking for a new job. She found another in construction but then was laid off again.
She has been looking at positions in insurance and construction but nothing excites her and she finds herself not wanting to consider the jobs.
"There are jobs I can do but don't want to do," she said. "I've done customer service all my life, but does that make me happy? No."
For years, Liz' passion has been animal care and animal rescue, and she is looking for ways to transform that into a new career. The problem she runs into is certain positions in this field do not pay as much as her previous jobs and while she can form her own animal rescue business, she would be putting most of the revenue into operating expenses that she would realize little income from the business.
Members of the Searching for Work group, which meets at the Presbyterian Church every Tuesday morning, encouraged Liz to find a way to channel her animal rescue passion into a new career. Some said she should get in touch with the larger pet care companies and look for a position there, possibly starting in a customer service-related position and then looking to move into another area of the business.
Jim, who has worked in project management for a number of companies including those in pet care, explained to Liz that the pet care industry is dominated by a few large businesses and many smaller ones. He said that Liz could even channel her customer service and construction experience into a consulting position with small businesses in the pet care industry in order to gain a foot in the door. Following the group's emphasis on networking, Jim said he would work to get Liz in touch with some people in the pet care industry.
Other members of the group encouraged Liz to follow her passion. Juan recounted his own tale of being laid off from the financial services industry and deciding to make a move into his passion of cars. He is currently seeking to purchase an automotive services franchise.
"When I came here, I was in a funk, I was at the edge of the abyss," he said. "I had gone through several interviews and nothing was there."
Editor's Note: This is part of a continuing series on the Searching for Work Group at the Presbyterian Church in Westfield.