MOUNT VERNON — How cool would it be to experience your dream job before investing the time and education? VocationVacations allows you to experience your “dream job” before ever taking that leap into the career.
In January of 2008, Brian Kurth, president and founder of VocationVacations was driving through Knox County on a cross-country tour when he happened to stop by The Pink Cupcake Bakery.
”We had talked for about an hour, just shooting the breeze, when he asked, ‘Have you ever heard of VocationVacations?’ And I said, ‘Yes, as a matter of fact I have’,” said Beth Murdock, co-owner of The Pink Cupcake.
The night previous, Murdock had watched an interesting episode of “King of the Hill” that featured characters participating in VocationVacations.
“It was such an coincidence,” she said.
Already intrigued by the company, Murdock learned about the business that allows clients (vocationers) a one- to three-day experience into the career of their choice under the guidance of a mentor. So she and co-owners Sommer Meade and Jennifer Farmer decided to get involved as a vocation destination.
“We got our first vocationer last year. She came from North Carolina, and we’ve had three so far this year; things have really picked up,” said Murdock.
Vocationers have come to The Pink Cupcake from as far as away Wisconsin and Delaware and have been as close as Sandusky. Ages ranged from 35 to 50, but the opportunity is open to individuals ages 18 to 80 from all walks of life.
“All four participants were already established and have good paying jobs and they all just want to work for themselves. One worked for the FBI, one worked for a human resource company, one owned her own hair salon, and one was a stay-at-home mom.”
With more than 150 vocation types to choose from, participants can experience what it’s like to be a television producer, wine maker, model, chef, actor, artist, baker and much more.
There are some costs for the opportunity to “test-drive your dream job,” vocationers have to pay for travel, hotel and meal expenses as well as the cost of the two- to three-day opportunity.
The company is the only business of its kind to offer hands-on experience and the chance to learn from professionals’ practical knowledge of the field.
“[Vocationers] have been coming on Fridays and Saturdays which are really, really busy. It helps to show them the ins and outs of the bakery,” said Murdock. “We run our bakery like we usually do when they are here so that they can observe, and if they want, to participate. We had two of the vocationers help us frost and decorate, and two of them observed. And it all depends on what they feel comfortable doing,” said Murdock.
Mentors also share their understanding and wisdom of the profession, and for The Pink Cupcake, they were able to pass along their knowledge of working in a small town.
“We get a plan before they come of what they would like to talk about and that gives us an idea of what direction to flow the conversation,” said Murdock. “And it’s just basic things you would ask if you were opening up a business in a small town.”
During the follow-up interview at the end of the vacation, three out of four vocationers agreed that this was the “dream job” for them.
“If you have enough money you can open up anything, but with the VocationVacations at least you have an idea of what you’re getting into before you spend the money. And if they want the experience of owning a bakery, then this is it. We have customers to wait on, the phone to answer and employees coming in and out, it gets really busy.”
Over all, the experience is beneficial for both the vacationer and the business owner.
“I think its a wonderful opportunity and we really, really like doing it,” said Murdock.