Switching Tracks "Later": Getting Off One Career Track and Into Another
By Chris Earl, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Even three years later, Bryan Dolezal can still pinpoint the feelings of when he was laid off.
“You’ve got to go through the grief cycle,” said Dolezal. “I was providing and then it is, ‘what am I going to do?’“
Dolezal had worked as a machinist in town since he and his wife, Ruthie, moved from western Iowa.
For Dolezal, the constant hum of a factory shift is gone, replaced by the gentle welcoming bell each time the front door opens at Treasure Chest Collectible on First Avenue SE in Cedar Rapids.
The Dolezals have four children, including a son with special needs, and personify a family that may not be as flexible as others. In 2011, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported national unemployment for Americans between ages 35-54 as 7.2%, under the national average of 8.9%. Yet this group often has larger financial commitments, such as newer mortgages, concerns about college costs and the possibility of caring for aging parents.
The family doesn't benefit from the consistent paycheck of being a full-time, traditional employee. Yet what they do have now is time. Bryan and Ruthie run the store they bought earlier this year — a true lifestyle change they hope offers more than just keeping the financial commitments satisfied.
“It’s pretty scary because we've gone from having benefits like health insurance to not having it,” said Ruthie Dolezal during a recent visit to their store. “For our kids, on the business end, the bonus for them is that it’s a family business and that Mom and Dad are doing it but the hours are much more intense.”
Amid the aisles of Great Muppet Caper glasses, vintage dolls, dining sets, the Dolezals say they were able to work through the shock of Bryan losing his job in September 2009.
“Focus on your family as much as you can,” said Bryan Dolezal. “Some of that is to look into some of the help that’s out there. It’s definitely beneficial and can, at least, get you through a rough patch. You do your best to stay positive.”
The Dolezals bring up a point that nearly all workers who think about going into business for themselves worry about. The safety net of a consistent job.
“It took me six months to make that decision,” said Diana Frerick, a Cedar Rapids native now living in Arizona. “I was in corporate America not quite twenty years.”
Frerick was recently back in town to build network contacts for her own business, selling beauty and health products.
“I found I was making a lot of other people very rich,” said Frerick. “As much as I learned in corporate America, I thought, ‘maybe I should do my own thing’.”
Frerick said she really had a hard time “letting go of that corporate security blanket”. For people looking to make the leap, whether by choice or not, Frerick suggested they take a hard look at themselves.
“What do people compliment you most in the workplace?” Frerick suggested. “What do you have the most interest in? In time, I learned to pick up on this but there is all sorts of training out there. You may not be perfect at something but you’ll never know until you try.”
For people looking to “get back in”, perhaps in a different career but still working as an employee, Coralville-based business coach Heather Woody said she sees companies moving away from what is strictly on the resume to skills such as leadership, which may not be as apparent.
“There’s been a shift of thinking that I love,” said Woody. “People aren’t just willing to hire just skill and competency. Yes, those things are very, very valuable and mighty important to an organization. I see people wanting character, being able to trust people and hold them accountable and be responsible. Those are vital to an organization. Those are things you can’t pay for.”
Learn more on what companies are looking for and how you can find your own professional potential. Business coach Heather Woody talks about how people can take steps to be more marketable for the next step.
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