In Pursuit of Passion

Dawn Papandrea | May 7, 2009

creative career change

Nobody wants to get laid off. And in this economy, very few will voluntarily quit their jobs. A job is financial security, a way to feed your kids and keep a roof over their heads. But what if the unthinkable happens? What would you do?

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A Musical Career Makeover

Dawn Papandrea | March 9, 2009

When we were kids, my sister and I spent a lot of time singing in the backseat of our parents’ car. Much to her chagrin, I often made up lyrics to songs I didn’t really know. But sometimes we would purposely alter song lyrics together to suit our fancy. One of my personal faves is our overhaul of Madonna’s “La Isla Bonita”: “Last night, I dreamt of a bagel” instead of “Last night, I dreamt of San Pedro….” Good times.

As much as I still enjoy giving music a makeover (changing KT Tunstall’s hit to “Suddenly I see/Why the Bee, she means so much to me” for my daughter comes to mind), I never thought these kinds of silly songs could amount to more than a few laughs – least of all a career makeover.

Enter the Careereoki contest for anyone looking to advance their current career, prepare for a new field, or get training to reenter the workforce after unemployment. In the recent contest sponsored by the Orange County School Board; Workforce Central Florida, an Orlando-area job placement organization; and a local advertising agency, more than 60 career hopefuls videotaped themselves singing about their dream career (karaoke-style, of course) to compete for the grand prize – tuition for a certificate program at an Orange County, FL, technical school.

As proven by the contest winner, Nichole Nagy, a good singing voice was not a prerequisite for entry. Finalists were chosen for their originality, creativity, and humor. And as you watch Nagy dance around with her two little kids, crooning “Bad Case of Nursing Blues” to the tune of Robert Palmer’s “Bad Case of Loving You,” you’ve got to give her points for gumption. Anyone who can put their obvious lack of vocal talent on display for the world to see and hear in order to get a good career education gets my vote.

As she put it:

“I can’t sing to save my life, but I will go ahead and try this, because I am willing to do anything to get school paid for.”

Her grand prize, worth $8,000, includes a career training scholarship, personal and resume makeovers, and a $100 gas card. Two first-place winners also won tuition help, resume makeovers, and $50 gas cards.

Now Nagy can take a break from unemployment and finally afford the nursing education she’s been dreaming about. Makes me want to sing the Eurythmics: “Sweet (career) dreams are made of these/Who am I to disagree?”

-Robyn Tellefsen