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by SixFigureStart | January 28, 2009

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Back to Work was, in many ways, humbling. Managing the information desk at the event, I got to speak to most of you who attended the event, whether it was just giving directions to the various workshops or seeking more information about Vault and our content. Some of you stayed long enough to talk about more intangible stuff, more personal stories. Like the couple who came together to ensure they covered every workshop between the two of them. Or the septuagenarian who came looking for help on re-entering the job market after her retirement savings vanished. ?I?m 72, I don?t know how you can help me, but I know I need the help.?

The stories are many and the situations varied. What are common are the strong desire and the need to return to work, to be productive and to no longer be a statistic. An attendee expressed how overwhelmed she gets every time she visits the many informational outlets offered in the virtual world. ?I clog up with how overwhelming this all is. Where do I begin? Where to end? What really helps? I have a dialup connection at home, which adds to my angst. I just want to get back to work,? she said. A sentiment many can echo.

There are also those who feel neglected and wrongfully challenged. A frequent user of the New York Public Library?s resources stopped me in the women?s restroom to talk about her situation. She has been out of work for a few months and out of a career for a decade. Her most recent job? As an administrative assistant. She professed she had kept her computer skills up-to-date and her typing speed was above average.

The problem? With everyone technologically-inclined and cutting costs, it is usually the support workers, the servicers who get targeted. ?They don?t need people like me anymore. They need the lawyers, the doctors, the nurses,? she said emphasizing an underlying current of the feeling of hurt seeping through the laid off population. ?I don?t have the time to first go back to school and then hope to earn a paycheck again.?

She heads off to California next month in pursuit of familial employment hope.

Did our workshops and private coaching sessions change the world? Certainly not. But it did a lot to empower the bruised confidences and hurt egos. The elements of the day were resilience and tenacity. Did the experience kick start the survival instinct within to carry us through the worst of times? We certainly hope so.

--Posted by Aman Singh, Vault Editor

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