Hate Your Job? Take a Vocation Vacation!
RACHEL MARTIN, host:
Okay, so maybe you're sick of your job. You need a vacation - we all do. You take a vacation, to Hawaii. Then you come back to your job. Problem not exactly solved.
So what if on that vacation, you didn't go to Hawaii, but instead you tried out an entirely different job. One you'd always dreamed of doing and one that, maybe, you wouldn't get so sick of.
Well that's the idea behind Vocation Vacations where unsatisfied workers test out a career that they'd rather be doing. Maybe you're an accountant and you'd rather be, say, an alpaca rancher, a doctor that rather run a doggy daycare center. These are all legitimate dreams.
Brian Kurth is founder of Vocation Vacation. And he's here to tell us about it.
Mr. BRIAN KURTH (Founder, Vocation Vacation): Hello, good morning.
MARTIN: Good morning.
So lets say, hypothetically, of course, you're radio host/newscaster who's always dreamed of being a lounge singer, say, for example, hypothetically.
Mr. KURTH: Mm-hmm.
MARTIN: And one day decided that I - I mean, you just wanted to go for it. What would the process be like?
Mr. KURTH: Well, first and foremost, we have about 150 different vocation types. So people can go on our site and take a look at what we offer day in and day out, and also can suggest, if it's not something that we currently offer. And lounge singer doesn't quite fit something that we offer today.
Mr. KURTH: Because there's a little bit of a talent issue there.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. KURTH: You've got to have a little bit of talent.
MARTIN: What are you saying Brian? You don't know me. So I have to pick something that's on your list, first of all.
Mr. KURTH: Well, we can't get something pretty darn close.
Mr. KURTH: We can get you into a music club owner. We've got a couple of those.
Mr. KURTH: And so the core vocation vacation would be really learning about running the club and the business side and the marketing and the bookings and all of that. Now, if you actually have a voice and if the mentor felt strongly enough, could you get up on stage? Perhaps.
(Soundbite of laughter)
MARTIN: So, but are these jobs that you can do this with typically things where it's a skill set that you actually can learn in a week, or at least make some major inroads?
Mr. KURTH: Well, we say you don't have to have experience as a dog trainer to take a dog trainer vocation vacation. You don't have to have experiences in interior design or a TV producer or whatever. But what you do get out of it after two to three days is really that test drive, that baby step. So in two to three days you don't completely have the toolset to go out and then make a career change. There's some major points that you need to do after the vocation vacation.
Basically you need an action plan: What are the next steps? Is this your dream job, and if so what are the steps you need to take? Do you need to create a business plan for your own business, or do you need to go back to school? Or was this not your dream job? And that's of equal importance. Good thing you know now before you go out and buy that bed and breakfast for a million dollars, and you just realized in two to three days, oh, my gosh, this isn't my dream job after all.
MARTIN: There is a list on your Web site of these jobs. I'll just list a few: pro wrestling ring announcer, bison rancher, horse trainer, pit crew member. Did you and your staff just come up with this list, or were these actual dream jobs that people had articulated to you?
Mr. KURTH: Yes and yes. Way back in 2001 when I got laid off and then traveled across the country in early 2002, I kept a journal. And I would ask people, hiking in the Grand Canyon or shooting pool in Denver or whatever, what do you do today, and is it your dream job? And often times I heard people say, well, and they'd apologize and say, well, I'm an attorney, or I'm an accountant, or what have you. And no, it's not my dream job. I'd much rather be, whatever. So we used that to start the business.
MARTIN: What are some of the more odd transitions that you've seen?
Mr. KURTH: Well, you know, odd is a relative thing. We've had folks like a big-time Manhattan banker who's now a dog trainer. We have a person who has left the music business and is now a hotelier, a concierge. And the list goes on and on. We have hundreds, probably pushing a thousand people now, who are making the switch.
MARTIN: And how much does this cost?
Mr. KURTH: The price ranges from $549 to $2000. And, yes, people are willing and able to pay for that experience. And it really is personal and professional due diligence. We're breaking barriers to entry that people would simply not be able to have. You can't just knock on the door of a sports announcer or a fashion designer and say, hey, you know, I'm here. Do you mind if I hang out with you a couple of days?
Mr. KURTH: So there's inherent value to that.
Mr. KURTH: Well, Brian Kurth, thanks so much for joining us, founder of Vocation Vacations. And let me know, give me a call, when lounge singer makes the list.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. KURTH: Sounds good.
MARTIN: Okay. That music industry insider turned concierge that Brian Kurth mentioned, well, after some downsizing in the music business, Corey Chacon got out entirely. And after a vocation vacation in Chicago, she set up shop right down the street from us at the Muse Hotel off Times Square. BPP producer Ian Chillag went over there to talk to her about why she made the change.
Ms. COREY CHACON (Vocation Vacation Customer; Concierge, Muse Hotel): This is one of our spa suite rooms, black lacquer cabinets and the black leather sofa. IAN CHILLAG:
So think about your old globetrotting life, how does this room that we're in compare to the kind of rooms you stayed in around the world?
Ms. CHACON: Well, it'd certainly depend on which artist I was with. Some of the developing artists, you know, Comfort Inn vibe, and some of the more established superstars, this would be like, you know, the wardrobe room. So, you know, it would run the gamut of seeing different types of hotels, and I guess I just started to really develop an interest as to what made these properties special. You know, you're incorporating real estate, design, and, of course, the services, which I'm happy to provide, one, as being a concierge.
CHILLAG: In a testimonial on the vocation vacation Web site, you said that concierge was you dream job. And I look at these two careers you've had, you know, you were this director of international marketing for Atlantic records and that seems like a dream job. Like people would think, oh, I would just love to be in the music industry going all around the world, staying in fancy hotels with artists. I can't think of that many people who say concierge is their dream job. So it seems like a little reversed.
Ms. CHACON: Yeah, I mean, certainly in this function, I certainly feel very valued. Just to see the look on people's faces when they're celebrating their anniversary and you pick out a perfect restaurant.
CHILLAG: It seems like the people you were working with before, musicians, had all sorts of people taking care of them, taking care of their needs.
Ms. CHACON: Yeah.
CHILLAG: And the people that you work with now, you know, the fact that you're taking care of them is probably a lot more special to them, because, you know, you're probably the only person asking what they need and doing all these things.
Ms. CHACON: Boy, Ian; it's true. It's...going to Paris as rock stars and staying at the George V; it's fantastic. But I did it for so long, and I just really couldn't see what else could grow from that. And with this job it's a formidable responsibility, as well, as well as like traveling and making sure the rock starts are catered too.
CHILLAG: Pardon me for asking, but did you take a pay cut to make this transition.
Ms. CHACON: Well, you know, that's part of the reality with a career change, you know? It takes a certain sacrifice that comes with a commitment. So, yeah.
CHILLAG: Is there anything that you miss about the old job?
Ms. CHACON: You know, maybe when you're on the road with a band or an artist, you know, there's certain sort of camaraderie. You know, I kind of miss that. But, you know, really those days are gone because the record labels are really not spending, you know, the budgets are just kind of going away for that sort of thing, so it's almost like a faded memory. But it was a lot of fun.
MARTIN: That was BPP producer Ian Chillag talking with Corey Chacon, concierge at the Muse Hotel here in New York.