Taking a Work Break with Vocation Vacation

Brian Kurth

Brian Kurth, founder of Vocation Vacation. hide caption

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Vocation Vacation offers stuck-in-a-rut types the chance to try a new line of work and find mentors. Founder Brian Kurth tells Scott Simon that the program needs mentors in the fields of digital animation, film directors and marine biologists.

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This Labor Day weekend, are you yearning to return to work or wishing your long weekend would never end? What about sampling another job over the Labor Day break? Talk to Brian Kurth. He's the founder of Vocation Vacations, an enterprise that let's you try out another line of work, from dude rancher to brewmaster to TV producer. He has hundreds of what he calls vocationers exploring other lines of employment. He joins us from New York.

Mr. Kurth, thanks very much for being with us.

Mr. BRIAN KURTH (Vocation Vacations): Oh, it's a pleasure being here.

SIMON: So how does it work? How do you match up people who want to try what?

Mr. KURTH: We are partnered with mentors all across the United States. We are now in 33 states. We basically then place people for between one and three days in their dream jobs and get one-and-one direct mentorship, kind of like that internship that college kids get - on steroids, for 30-year-old, 40-year-old, 50-year-old folks. You know, they have the education, they have the experience, and they really just simply want to have that dream job experience before they go out and seek the new career.

SIMON: Mm-hmm. Do you have a couple of favorite for-instances, real life examples?

Mr. KURTH: A woman who took a vocation vacation as a talent agent in L.A., and she works in dental administrative work, managing claims, processing. And with the encouragement of her mentor, she went back to Chicago and she's now working for a company that basically manages the processing for royalties and for bookings and all that for entertainers and models and agents. So she's now getting exposure. But she's made the switch.

SIMON: I think it's pretty plain to understand the interest of the people who are, as you call them, vocationers. But what's the interest of the mentor

Mr. KURTH: You know, it is the fact that we do offer media exposure to their products and services, quite honestly, as we grow. And then they do get paid.


Mr. KURTH: As I like to joke with our mentors, you know, they're not going to be buying the vacation home of their dreams, but it is supplemental income, you know, in addition to all the other positive things.

SIMON: Do you draw any conclusions about what makes somebody happy in their professional life from what you've observed?

Mr. KURTH: We don't have it quite defined yet, but there's this fulfillment quotient that each one of us wants to feel. And at some point there's a breaking point, where people are now saying I'm done, I'm ready for change.

SIMON: You're based in Portland. Are you on vacation or vocation in New York?

Mr. KURTH: I am always vocationing.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. KURTH: From here I'm actually thrilled to say that I go meet a prospective mentor who's a digital animator. An animator is one of our most requested vocation vacations right now in which we don't have a mentor. So...

SIMON: Animator is one of the most requested vocations you have?

Mr. KURTH: Well, right now, the...

SIMON: The one for which you don't have any yet.

Mr. KURTH: Right, right. So if there are any folks out there who are marine biologists, animators, film directors...

SIMON: Well, you've heard that, Mr. Spielberg.

Mr. KURTH: Exactly.

SIMON: Mr. Kurth, thanks very much.

Mr. KURTH: Thank you.

SIMON: Brian Kurth, who's the founder and president of Vocation Vacation, speaking from New York.

And this is NPR News.

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