07/14/2010 06:34 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Census Workers: Stemming the Jobless Flood

Some of the estimated 700,000 Census Bureau workers, who are "about to be out of work" because their temporary jobs have ended, may actually have been handed a golden opportunity to reinvent themselves.

I'm told that many are recent college graduates who got a college degree and went looking for a job. For many, college simply gave them a degree "to do something." It didn't really tap into their passion. If they have wisely built up a small savings account while employed, they may have built up some "float" time that will enable them to tap into their passion, and create a vision of doing work that they really love.

Right now, as Census workers are being turned back into the marketplace -- like other job seekers in transition -- they are at a crossroads. If they are young, or young at heart and have a flexible lifestyle, they may be free to move in any direction they choose. Are they inspired most in the mountains, the beach, the desert, or urban centers? Can they serve as a volunteer host at a national or state park and live almost for free?

They may also want to reinvent themselves by traveling abroad. Do they have skills to share in Haiti? Nicaragua? Mexico, Brazil, Bali, or India? Do they need to refuel their spirit with a bike tour? Learn how to live without a car. Experience co-housing. Live nearly for free in an eco-village.

For inspiration, consider the career path of Stanford University graduate Will Ruddick. After time spent in the software industry, Will spent two years in the Peace Corps in Africa. Then he saw a leverage point for his skills. From Kenya, he writes:

"I have been interested in alternative currency systems for a long time and I think I have found a perfect and practical use for them here in Kenya.

My Eco-Money pilot project has been taken up by Eco Ethics International and seeks to introduce a local currency (as a voucher) into a slum community targeted at trash collection.

Once per week, residents will be paid using the voucher for trash they deliver to a local collection-site. The collected trash will be taken by the municipal council to a dump-site and recycling facility. Sorted plastics will receive more vouchers than other trash. Residents will then be able to use these vouchers for goods and services around the community. Finally the vouchers can continue circulating in the community or businesses can redeem them for Kenyan shillings."

Will's project is targeting are the slums of Kisauni surrounding the Kongowea market. He and his small team have begun by holding meeting with elders, the Kisauni Chief and the municipal council regarding the project and the local problems facing residents, and support has been, in Will's words: "overwhelming."

Across the world, Kenny Haisfield and Brooks Dirrof, have set up the nonprofit CEO4Teens. While traveling in Bali, they learned that most young Balinese students never complete junior high school. This is because their parents who work for $1-2 dollars a day cannot afford the fees for books and a uniform. The low wage cycle is the repeated with their children.

Returning to the U.S., Kenny and Brooks decided to set up a nonprofit that would sponsor students in computer, multimedia and English studies for two consecutive years. Their fundraising is based on teens doing community work. For every hour of work, they ask people to donate to help less fortunate teens around the world.

The bottom line: if you're a Census worker, being shown the door and want to take a RISK... What is the coolest job you can think of, that you would do, if you could? Would it add value to the world? Post it here. Perhaps someone will fund it.

Alexia Parks is author of Parkinomics, an Amazon business and motivational bestseller. It offers eight great ways to thrive in the New Economy, for the individual who wants to lead a life of "meaning, prosperity, and purpose." Parkinomics includes ideas and links to resources.


Alexia Parks offers workshops and online tele-seminars for people in transition to jobs in the New Economy. See: With 61 percent of people wanting to be their own boss, she shows how to tap into your skills and passion to create your DREAM job.