The layoff payoff: 4 New Yorkers pursue their dream jobs
Jack Bernowitz went from banking to cooking. His goal is to own his own restaurant. Credit: Caitlin Ragione
They say when one door closes, another opens. And thats happening for many of the citys unemployed.
Scores of New Yorkers are pursuing dream jobs they never might have sought out if not for the recession.
Oftentimes someone goes into a career, is very successful, and then gets to a point when they realize its not what they want to do. Now many people are trying to figure out exactly what they really want to do, said Linda Stone, a New York University career counselor who teaches "Mid-Career Change.
Allison Hemming, president of talent agency The Hired Guns, agreed: I believe the other side of this recession is what Im terming the New Individualism Movement.
People are looking to be entrepreneurs, she said.
Andrea Lala at Whole Foods. Credit: Willie Davis.
Andrea Lala, 34, investment banking to holistic health and nutrition
Ive been in this city working really hard for the last 12 years, and the lifestyle definitely caught up with me, said Andrea Lala.
So when she was laid off from Barclays in June, she was glad that she had enrolled in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition at Lincoln Center last December.
Lala wants to combine her business background with her passion for nutrition to launch her own business, eventually offering corporate wellness programs.
Lala, who has savings and her fiances financial support, said she took a 75 percent salary cut. But it feels so different to get up everyday and feel passionate about what you do; and to feel in control, rather than waiting for the next round of layoffs.
Pete Versage, 54, information technology to ESL teacher
After working in the information technology field for 30 years, Pete Versage became disillusioned and left his job at a bank in May 2007.
After enrolling in Stones class, he decided to turn a volunteer teaching gig at the International Center, an English-training school in Chelsea, into a career teaching English for business.
Money was not a motivating factor but theres certainly that element of fear as to whether there will be enough income generated, he said.
Karen Seiger explores New York's markets for her upcoming book, "The Markets of New York." Credit: Dave Sanders.
Karen Seiger, 44, from marketing at American Express to guide book author
After her international marketing job moved overseas in 2007, Seiger and her husband vacationed in Paris. They used a shopping book titled The Markets of Paris as a guide.
She had always enjoyed writing, so she pitched a Big Apple version of the book to publisher The Little Bookroom.
The Markets of New York is due out in 2010.
Seiger is hoping to update future editions of the book and make writing her focus.
The best thing is being able to do things on my own terms both being able to prioritize and hold myself accountable for everything, Seiger said. The flip side is having to be very disciplined.
Jack Bernowitz, 44, Lehman Brothers trader to pastry chef
When Jack Bernowitz sensed last fall that he might get laid off from Lehman Brothers after 20 years, he enrolled in the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan.
When he got his pink slip in January, he was already on his way to fulfilling a lifelong passion.
Id been cooking for my friends and family for years I always knew Id open my own restaurant.
Bernowitz is honing his skills working as a pastry chef at Four Food Studio on Long Island.
A trader has to work under pressure and constantly multitask at a hectic pace. Those skills definitely help me in the culinary world.
Linda Stones six steps before transitioning:
1. Recognize that change is a process and that the pace of change varies.
2. Understand why you feel unfulfilled in your current job.
3. Assess your skills and achievements and figure out what you want to continue to develop.
4. Research and conduct informational interviews. Network.
5. Recognize that everyone has personal barriers and constraints in changing careers.
6. Develop short- and long-term goals with realistic objectives based on the first five steps.
Culinary schools see spike in enrollment:
The citys culinary schools are currently seeing a spike in admissions and interest.
The French Culinary Institute reported that career enrollments are up 23 percent in the first half of 2009 versus the second half of 2008.
The Institute of Culinary Education has seen enrollment climb by 13 percent in the first quarter of 2009, leading them to increase the number of seats they offer in their career training by 109 a 9 percent increase over 2008 and a 17.5 percent increase over 2007.