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Jobless Professionals Yearn to Do Good

A few months ago, Andrea Kornfeld was working on a computer program to shave milliseconds off of transactions at Merrill Lynch.

Now, she’s a Peace Corps volunteer teaching computer skills to high-school students in Cameroon.

Ms. Kornfeld, 26, applied to the program in August, before the worst part of the financial crisis. Her acceptance arrived a few weeks after she was laid off in January. “Honestly, getting laid off was a good thing,” she says. “Merrill Lynch just wasn’t a good fit for me and it gave me an opportunity to do something different.”

The recession is proving a boon for volunteer programs and social-enterprise groups, which are swamped with midcareer applicants like Ms. Kornfeld. Some lost their jobs, others are planning to change careers. Many of the organizations say the applicants, and their business backgrounds, will be welcome additions to their causes.

Applications to the Peace Corps, a U.S. government initiative launched in 1961 to strengthen diplomacy and help developing nations, are up 16% over last year, says spokeswoman Laura Lartigue. Among those ages 50 and older, applications are up almost 50%. Read more…


Publish date: June 11, 2009