Business, Economics and Jobs

Vocation vacations

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Wilderness Volunteers participants. (Image: Wilderness Volunteers)

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They're calling it a "vocation vacation" -- when people spend their vacations trying out new jobs. Some of these are volunteer opportunities where people are responsible for their own expenses; others are paid programs.

But why would anyone want to spend their vacation doing work?

Mike Leonard, a recent college graduate on track to a career in the banking industry, took a trip as a participant in the Wilderness Volunteers program.

"Wilderness Volunteers ... runs back country service trips throughout the country," Leonard explains. "That entails everything from trail building/trail making; campsite restoration; fence removal in the national parks and the national wilderness areas."

After the experience, Leonard became more interested in the environment, and took a job working outdoors. This eventually led to his current job as an analyst with the Department of Energy.

There are several companies that organize trips similar to Leonard's. Vocation Vacations gives people the chance to try their hand at dream jobs such as actor, architect and baseball announcer. Transitions Abroad specializes in short-term gigs overseas, and Coolworks.com hooks people up with seasonal jobs of three months or longer.

Jobs expert Beth Kobliner says for people who are currently unemployed, these are something to consider. "Vocation vacations, like internships or seasonal jobs, basically offer you a chance to get a foot in the door for a job."

She adds that some of these vacations can be had for less than $300, and while they won't guarantee a job at the end, they can open people's minds up to opportunities they've never considered before.

"It beats the alternative for a lot of people of not doing anything," says Kobliner. "And the point is there are a lot of organizations that offer these for a lot less money than people would think, and it offers you something to do in this very tough environment."

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