Monday, June 08, 2009

A Fun Side to Unemployment?

My previous post about travel being good for your career sparked me to do additional research on the topic. Interestingly I came across a related phenomenon -"Funemployment." According to a recent article on, some of the jobless in San Francisco are actually viewing unemployment as an opportunity to volunteer, travel, freelance and consider career shifts. (Notably these are folks who have savings and/or severance who did not get caught up in the real estate crisis.)

Alexis Mansinne, profiled in the article, had been an event planner for Dwell magazine until she was laid-off. Though shocked by her pink slip, Ms. Mansinne decided to take a refreshing perspective on her situation (helped by the 50 weeks of unemployment benefits she was about to receive) and see it as a chance to take a more "socially redeeming career path". She started a blog ( to share her thoughts on how to take advantage of being unemployed and has since decided to go back to school to become a school guidance counselor.

The article also mentions another interesting blog, and one of it's founders, Tania Khadder who's quoted as saying, "Being unemployed, took my attention, which was spread over a lot of different things, and gave it focus. In a way, it derailed my financial plan. But it accelerated my professional plan." Ms. Khadder's plan is to attend graduate school focused on public policy.

I realize that no one wishes to be unemployed and that many are struggling to pay for even basic expenses even with unemployment checks. For those however who do have the means to invest in themselves and their futures careerwise, many are having fun exploring their interests, talents and passions. Share your thoughts on the upside to unemployment - positive perspectives welcome!


Allison Cheston said...

Maggie, I love this idea and am very taken with the Funemployment blog.

The truth is that being in a job you hate is very soul-killing, and we should be able to rejoice when we are freed! But human beings, and I would say Americans in particular, are burdened with a work ethic that insists we must be productive. And of course there are bills to pay...

Especially if you don't have strings attached (eg. a family to support), it may be possible to look upon this period of freedom as a sort of Gap Year. As long as you set yourself a task so you don't simply while away the days, good things tend to come out of a time of reflection. I encourage people to take advantage of this time, with the full knowledge that you will work again! And besides, it's almost summertime:)

craig said...

I tend to think you need to have fun period. Whether employed or not, fun is truly a choice you need to make each day.

But as I am actually "unemployed" myself these days, I am deciding to have fun indeed. I have taken the time to explore a new career and actually I continue to make traction as a freelance travel writer. My 'unemployment' is leading me to a new career....a career I consider fun.

Here is a link to one of my recent blog posts on

stay adventurous,

Tina Xie said...

Hello Maggie,
I just wanted to comment on your blog regarding what we discussed during the Forte conference. I hope that more people understand the importance of soul-searching. I personally have had people ask me why I took extra time off before beginning my MBA and then they immediately make harsh judgments. I wish to encourage others to take the time to really reflect on their experiences, to volunteer in activities that they never had time for before and to really figure out what their true goals are. Always being a motivated person isn't enough sometimes, it's important to have dreams to be motivated for.
Thank you again.