Your career. What happened? Newest stories

Starting over. That’s what we’re hearing these days from Minnesotans and others in MPR’s Public Insight Network.

We asked folks recently to describe in just six words what the economy’s done to their careers. (Add your voice here.)


The latest batch of stories show some folks are rolling the dice in he turmoil, starting new businesses and jumping into self-employment for the first time. Others are still trying to revive their careers after getting rolled it the Great Recession.

Business disappeared. Employees laid off. Starting over at 61.

That’s how Ed Meijer of St. Augusta summed up his experience in this downturn.

“I was very busy bidding jobs nationally until July 4th, 2007. After that date all work disappeared,” said Meijer, who consults and designs fire protection systems.

We continued working on a couple of very large jobs until May 2008 after which date I had to lay off most employees eventually working by myself without pay (still paying the banks, IRS etc).

I am still not back on the payroll and cannot collect unemployment. I have become busier and right now have a hard time keeping up with the (mostly government)work. I now have one designer and a part-time secretary on the payroll.

We got stories from Minnesota and around the country. See the responses on the map below (click on the map for a larger view then zoom out to see responses from outside the state).

Regular MinnEcon readers know we’ve been particularly interested in folks willing to take the entrepreneurial leap in a recession.

So Jesse Gilmore’s words grabbed us instantly: Leap of Faith. My Own Business.

Working as a server Gilmore said, was delivering money but not happiness. So he put his career chips on an arts business he’s co-founded, The North Coast Collective, and is building websites for local artists.

I had to take a leap of faith with the business I had been working on for almost 4 years (without much start up capital or promise of an income anytime in the near future). Started full time school to finish up my degree at Minneapolis Community & Technical College before transferring over to the University of Minnesota next fall.

Student loans are helping me live at poverty level until this business starts to make enough money to supplement my income.

Job-wise, Minnesota’s employment conditions remain a mixed bag.

The state’s jobless rate is steady at 7 percent, far lower than the nation. September data, however, also showed another drop in jobs — down nearly 10,000 from August.

So like the rest of the country, Minnesotans are still waiting for something to ignite serious job growth. Creighton’s University’s newest Minnesota analysis today is projecting “very modest job gains” in the months ahead.

That’s why stories like the one Stacy Baldus continue to keep us worried about the state’s future. We’ve written over the past year about ongoing concerns the recession is chasing away Minnesota’s future, forcing new grads to go elsewhere for work. In her case, that’s Bottineau, ND.

“Having graduated in December of 2008, I worked as a substitute teacher for a year until I found a job (not related to my masters’ degree) in North Dakota,” Baldus wrote. “I moved, took a low paying job, and am not doing what I love. But I have an apartment, a job, and health insurance. For now, I’m surviving while missing my native Minnesota.”

Her six word summary should have us all wringing our hands a bit: Found job in ND, miss MN.

BONUS: Check out the responses we got in the spring to our six-word career challenge.

NOTE: Our efforts were inspired by SMITH Magazine’s ongoing Six-Word Memoir project.

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