WORKER STORIES | WHAT WE HEARD
A LAUNCHING PAD
TO THE NEXT PHASE OF LIFE
Workers we spoke to describe these jobs as a launching pad to the next phase of their life. Their current jobs were helping them work toward goals that include running a small business and going back to school.
Younger workers surveyed expressed interest in starting a business. Their jobs were showing them the ropes.
Piper and her boyfriend share a dream of becoming master brewers. They looked long and hard before choosing a brewery they believed would help them achieve that goal. Both 27, they were looking for a brewery that would let them work the same shifts, provide ongoing learning opportunities, and, Piper says with a laugh, “brew beer that’s actually good.” Their requirements were met by a new Denver brewery. Not only do the owners accommodate Piper and her boyfriend’s desire to work together, but they also provide opportunities for professional growth. For example, employees gain hands-on experience by participating in brewing sessions and are encouraged to increase industry knowledge by pursuing the prestigious Cicerone beer certification.
Having started their jobs even before the brewery officially opened, Piper says they are “learning together” with the owners what works and what does not in the business. This is valuable experience they hope to leverage when they are ready to start their own brewery in five to ten years.
“That’s why I’ve stayed. I’m constantly learning new things.”
Erin has been managing the studio of a small art restoration company in Manhattan for six and a half years. She provides all of the front office support, manages schedules, prepares shipments, keeps the books, created the company’s Web site, and even practices a little art restoration. She keeps the wheels turning at this small business and is good at her job, but her real passion is painting, which she studied as an undergraduate and continues to practice. Though not fully sure about her next move, she knows she will stay in the arts. She does not think she can afford to go back to school and views the job as exposing her to different parts of the art world and building her practical painting skills. She can use the company’s studio, and receives feedback on her painting from the owners. Perhaps most importantly, she has built a strong network of contacts in the art world that could provide an entrée to future jobs, or exposure for her art.
"The opportunity to learn about business ownership could be pivotal in helping these workers create their next jobs through entrepreneurship."
Toussaint used to work as a concierge for a luxury apartment building in Westchester, a job he called “comfortable and easy” despite the long commute from his Brooklyn home. In addition to a decent wage ($12 per hour) and tips, he received other perks such as tickets to sporting or cultural events. He traded that full-time job for one running a small wine and spirits store closer to home in Brooklyn, because he said he felt “too comfortable” in the concierge job, and did not see himself leaving it to pursue his goal of returning to school. He believes the wine store is the right fit for him because it provides both flexibility and extra time (given that his commute has declined from well over an hour, to 20 minutes). Above all, the job gave him the impetus to complete his undergraduate degree and eventually go to law school.
67% of workers 18 to 45 years old cited an interest in starting their own businesses. Their current jobs were in many ways “showing them the ropes."
After being raised and attending college in Ecuador, Robert — a dual U.S./Ecuadoran citizen — came to the United States with a specific goal in mind: to save enough money to finish his undergraduate thesis in nutritional science. Doing so required the purchase of specific measuring equipment. Through family contacts in Ecuador, he was able to secure a job with a small company cleaning commercial offices in Brooklyn and Queens. Although he likes the financial stability that this job provides, especially when compared to the volatility of the Ecuadoran economy, Robert fully intends to go back to his country to open his own nutritional consulting office and launch his career. He has almost met his savings goal by living modestly in a shared apartment with other family members.
67% of younger workers cited an interest in starting their own businesses.
Their jobs were showing them the ropes.