Laid-Off Dad Finds Hope in Online Learning

Dawn Papandrea | December 7, 2009

This is second in Insider’s series, From Laid Off to Learning. To read more inspiring stories, check back here each Monday or subscribe now.

frankvidalIn a time when getting laid off is standard and job competition is stiff, what’s a person to do? You can look for a job and hope to get one, but that doesn’t always work out to your advantage. We have all heard stories of those who become dejected and unable to find their next move. Many end up feeling trapped.

Frank Vidal chose a different feeling for himself. After being laid off from a management job he had for 13 years, Vidal decided to make education a priority, and turn what could have become feelings of hopelessness into hopefulness. “I had lost my job at the end of July 2008 and and while searching for something new, noticed that every job I was interested in required a degree,” says Vidal. He had earned his GED in 1988 after dropping out of school a year earlier and never pursued higher education. “Going back was something I had wanted to do for a long time, but I always found an excuse not to.”

With time on his hands and ambition driving him, Vidal enrolled in SUNY Empire State College’s Center for Distance Learning. He is currently taking two classes while working a new job and managing a home life with his wife, two young daughters, and dog. Vidal, whose ultimate goals include working his way to the top in his field, expects to complete the 100 percent online program within five years.

Vidal feels that the time was right for his new journey. “The fact that I’m now an adult and care more about my family than I do myself is what motivates me,” he says. In that regard, Vidal explains, he is thankful for the lay off, since it ignited a passion for advancement and learning he had previously overlooked.

For those who have experienced a layoff, it’s important to keep your head high and go after what you want, says Vidal. “You will either get a negative response or no response for 95 percent of the jobs you apply to. There are going to be days that you don’t want to get out of bed and you think things will never get better, but they do if you keep working at trying to find a job.”

Before he landed his new job, school was what ultimately gave him a sense of purpose. “The state of the economy has changed the way most businesses operate and you have to make yourself more appealing to these companies,” he says. “It also gives you a mental break from the stress of being unemployed.”

Juggling academics with a full-time job and family is, of course, a challenge, says Vidal. But despite the sacrifices and hard work, he knows his path will be a lucrative one. Traditionally, job opportunities have been better for individuals who have at least a bachelor’s degree, and according to statistics, many salary increases are attributed to education level. “I hope to leverage my experience and degree to improve my position at my job.

“The best part of this whole thing is the satisfaction of knowing that I’m working toward getting my degree and that great things are ahead for my family and I.”

~Amanda Fornecker

DO IT NOW: Read more of Insider’s series, From Laid Off to Learning.

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