Did College Prepare You for Your Current Job?
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Did College Prepare You for Your Current Job?

The AJT speaks with four Jewish Atlantans about their early career choices and how that compares to their careers today.

Chana Shapiro is an educator, writer, editor and illustrator whose work has appeared in journals, newspapers and magazines. She is a regular contributor to the AJT.

Sometimes one’s early chosen profession turns out to be the right one, and sometimes one boldly dares to choose again. Four Atlantans consider the relationship between their youthful plans and their current vocations.

Gary Lips left the corporate world to work outdoors.

Gary Lips, home services provider
I studied management information systems and have a B.A. in business. For 14 years, I was a consultant in technology-related positions with major companies, including BellSouth and The Home Depot. I wanted a change from the corporate environment, and I spent a year exploring and experiencing different jobs.

One morning, I was outside mowing our lawn, and I had an epiphany. I came inside and announced to my wife, “I’m starting my own company, and I know what I’m going to call it, Skeeter Eaters!” Naturally, she was shocked, but we always support one another.

In 2013, I advertised in Jewish social media, and within months I had a flourishing outdoor mosquito-control business. Customers began asking for more services, and I hired workers. Some of the workers had additional skills and were eager to use their expertise.

My company is now called G.LIPS Home Services; each letter represents a service: gutter and roof-cleaning; landscaping; interior and exterior painting; pressure washing, Skeeter Eaters.

When I started this business, I was determined to work hard and be happy. Nothing brings me down. I enjoy accommodating my customers and creating a bright spot in their lives.

Rivka Elbein successfully weathered interruptions to achieve her career goal.

Rivka Elbein, acute care research nurse
I always wanted to be a nurse and was in a high school Future Nurses Club. I graduated from the University of Texas Health Science Center in 1980. My first job was in surgical intensive care at Houston’s Ben Taub Hospital.

In 1973, after high school in Stratford, Conn., I planned to study nursing at Boston University, but first I spent a year in Israel in a youth leadership program. Returning home, my BU scholarship had been rescinded; consequently, I took pre-nursing requisites at a Bridgeport community college.

During this time, my mother was diagnosed with cancer and moved to Houston for treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center. I enrolled for pre-nursing at the University of Houston in 1975, but I needed to support my mother and myself during her treatments and hospitalization. I completed an eight-week nursing assistant program and worked in hospitals. When my mother died, I attended the University of Houston, while working as a nursing assistant.

After marrying in 1980, my husband and I spent a year in Jerusalem, where I worked in a Shaare Zedek coronary care unit. I have worked intensive care, home health, [as a] medical records review nurse, infection control nurse, and nurse epidemiologist. After having children, I transitioned from hospital shift work to research nursing in Houston, Atlanta and Dallas. Currently, I am an acute care research nurse in transplant [unit] at Emory University.

Levi Siegelman thrilled onlookers as a 9-year-old street performer.

Levi Siegelman, moving company owner
On the streets of Jerusalem, the crowd’s eyes followed the stick rising in the air, whooping with delight as I, a cute 9-year-old “street performer,” caught it in my outstretched hand.

I always loved learning new things, bringing joy to others and celebrating life. Montessori middle school provided me with myriad hands-on opportunities to grow skills in business and communication. At Yeshiva High School, I was a two-time national Jewish high school wrestling champion. And for my Eagle Scout project, I oversaw the building of a permanent suspension bridge connecting areas of the Toco Hills community.

I am committed to leaving people with meaningful interactions and positive memories. I notice the good in others and actively initiate genial conversations. With no college degree, I see opportunities everywhere. As an entrepreneur, I am now the proud owner of my own company, Levi’s Neighborhood Movers. I started 3 1/2 years ago by moving a single sofa, and now no houses are too big. I do long-distance moves and am expanding, with the goal of bringing peace of mind at an often-stressful time for my customers. We leave our customers with smiles on their faces, and we always have a smile on ours.

Hallie Chasen pivoted from working with children to helping adults.

Hallie Chasen, real estate agent
I graduated from Stern College of Yeshiva University in New York, majoring in early childhood education. Although I taught for 13 wonderful and fulfilling years, I have been a real estate agent for the past nine years.

I was always interested in all kinds of houses. Even after my husband and I bought our first and second homes, I loved visiting open houses and enjoyed going with friends to check out houses they were considering buying. Sometimes, I even helped them negotiate their deals. I realized that real estate was interesting, and I wanted to help people make good decisions about purchasing or selling a home.

I decided to try to get my real estate license. What started out as a part-time hobby ended up becoming a full-time career that I absolutely love. It’s always scary doing something new, but I would never have known it would work out if I had not taken a chance in a profession which is so different from teaching young children. I’ve always heard the saying, “nothing ventured; nothing gained,” and I’m so glad I followed my dream.

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