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Institute for Career Transitions “Re-Boot Camp” at MIT

by Debbie Lipton

On May 2 and May 3, 2015, something special happened for individuals who have been out of work for six months and often much longer, people identified as “long-term unemployed.” This “Re-Boot Camp” (RBC) at MIT brought together more than 100 job seekers between the ages of 40 and 65+, to participate in an intensive and untraditional job search support and educational experience.

This program was sponsored through the Institute for Career Transitions (ICT) to support the research of Dr. Ofer Sharone, Assistant Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management. In 2013 and 2014, Dr. Sharone performed a research study that demonstrated the positive impact of providing personal job search support to job seekers who have been out of work 6 months or longer. These services were provided on a pro bono basis by more than 20 Boston-area career coaches. Following up on this study, Dr. Sharone invited these coaches to meet in the summer of 2014 to determine what other support services could be made available to help more job seekers in a group setting. This established the foundation for the Re-Boot Camp.

The conference was carefully designed by Dr. Sharone, with the support of his team of coaches. The purpose of the program was to acknowledge the personal experience of unemployment as well as to provide tools and resources to help participants feel re-energized in their job search.

Central to the experience were three themes:

· acknowledgment of the emotional toll of long-term unemployment

· the concept of networking as relationship-building

· and incorporating accountability into the job search

Specific sessions addressed ways to counteract the emotional stress of a long-term unemployment. Other sessions provided opportunities to learn and practice networking skills. Other sessions reviewed such job search topics as goal setting, resume writing, using LinkedIn and generating alternative income. Throughout the two days, participants were given time to reflect on what they had learned from each session and invited to write down a “takeaway” to integrate into their job search and establish personal accountability moving forward.

Participants expressed how much the experience meant to them, noting that they were ready to return to the job search refreshed with new ideas. As one person shared in an evaluation form, “[There was] tons of great content, fantastic wellness info, and the collective relief of 100 people saying ‘wow, maybe it’s not entirely my fault.’ That is worth a lot!”

Submitted by Debbie Lipton, MS, ACRW, CPRW, MBTI, Principal of Lipton Career Management,


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