Hatuey Rodriguez, age 15, travels each day alone from the leafy suburb of Fort Lee, NJ to the rough and tumble streets South Bronx to learn how to fight at the Willis Avenue Boxing Club. President of his sophomore class, Rodriguez is more focused on attending college, than being popular in high school, which he describes as not being easy. Boxing he says, has helped him feel more confident that the path he is choosing in the mist of a world of intense peer pressure, is the best one for him.
Ollie’s Place, on E 14th Street between 1st Avenue and Avenue A, provides a home for about a dozen stray cats at a time. An offshoot of the dog shelter Mighty Mutts, the East Village location has been operating for the past several years after a former Midtown storefront caught fire. Ollie’s Place is a small non-profit entirely run by volunteers.
Kat Herskovits, who has been working at Ollie’s Place for nearly three years, talks about the shelter’s daily routine.
Rita’s family emigrated to the United States from Kharkov, USSR when she was three-years-old, hoping for a better life. Twenty years later her father is a successful IT expert, her mother is a renowned match-maker in Brooklyn’s Jewish community, her sister is a Wall Street attorney, and Rita is a rising star in the NYC fashion scene.
For her and many other immigrants, coming to master Halloween has been a big part of their assimilating to American life. She talks about this experience here.
When I sat down to find another community for my survey, facebook was the first social media tool I tried. I figured it would be a good place to start since I was used to it already. I typed “job groups” and “career organizations” into the search bar.
Perhaps these searches weren’t specific enough. Neither of them turned up anything substantial. I kept finding groups for networking support, as well as career planners and life coaches. Although these topics are jobs related, they would not offer me an audience specific enough for my survey. My survey is geared towards those who already have a job or career, not those who are planning and deciding on one.
I was more successful with Meetup.com. After setting up an account I choose “New Career,” “Career Network,” and “Jobs” as my interests. Like facebook, I found similar networking and job search groups. The difference was that I was also able to find groups with people who already had a job, and were sponsoring upcoming job fairs. Bottom line, meetup was more suitable because I could find a specific group I knew would take interest in my survey. One such group was named “Creating Change: Get the Job, Results, Life You Want!”
The next step was for me to join the groups I found and contact their members. This also turned out to be fairly easy; I could read the profiles of the members to see if they listed a job or not.
Meetup members can send emails to anyone in their group. Even though I can do the same on Facebook, I like the fact that Meetup seems to be a more mature, professional setting. I proceeded to email my survey to as many members as possible.
After 44 years as a barber/ stylist, Iraida Reyes has not intentions of retiring and leaving the customers she not only cuts hair for, but also counsels.
She knew since the age of seven that what was considered a traditional career for a woman would not be for her after spending one day in her father’s barber shop in Puerto Rico.
A bloodline of Barbers is what Reyes comes from. Not only was Reyes’s father a barber, but her great grandfather, uncles and three older brothers were too.
“ I call it hair spray in the blood,” she said.
After that one day in the late 1950’s, Reyes spent everyday in her father’s barbershop. Instead of learning how to sew and cook, she learned how to cut hair.
At just 10 years old she did her first cut for a friend. From then Reyes cut the hair of friends and family members until graduating from Paris Beauty School in the Bronx at 17 as a professional in 1967.
She has cut hair for three and our generations of some families in the Melrose section of the Bronx, often helping couples through marriage problems and others with drug addiction.
The 63-year-old known commonly says she wants to cut hair until she now longer can.
When you walk into Camp Bow Wow in Long Island City, N.Y., the smell of dog is the first thing you notice. This isn’t a camp for children, but for New Yorkers’ furry friends – their dogs.
Stephen Neagus brought the Camp Bow Wow franchise to New York for the first time in 2008, after leaving his job in finance. Three years later, Camp Bow Wow employs 12 people, houses around 20 dogs a night and provides daycare to around 20 more. Neagus puts owners’ minds at ease with an interview process that ensures that dogs can handle the social atmosphere, and 24/7 webcam access that they can check with an app he sells for iPhones. For an extra fee, Neagus will pick up campers in the “Doggie Bus,” and transport them to his 10,000 square foot doggie daycare facility.
Neagus credits his success to people’s devotion to their canine companions. People will cut back on creature comforts for themselves because of hard times, he said, but caring for their beloved pets is still a high priority. Because of his continued success, Neagus’s business has recently been profiled in the Wall Street Journal, and he is planning an advertising campaign in local subway stations.
Although Neagus took a pay cut at first to start his business, he said he’s never been happier and that working for himself, for something he loves, has made him a changed man.
To see the entire viewer:
Working Like a Dog
Joe Vaupotic, 22, sits on the ground with his legs crossed and a guitar in his lap in Zuccotti Park. Next to him is his guitar case with a sign inside that states: “Been here since day one, need $ $ $ to go home. Much love!”
This is how Vaupotic spends most of his time, playing melodies from his guitar that’s missing a few strings. Passersby sympathetically drop money into his guitar case. Yet this image has made Vaupotic want to leave the Occupy Wall Street movement. “I don’t want to reinforce any hippie stereotypes,” Vaupotic said.
Vaupotic, who is originally from New Jersey, has been at the park since the Occupy Wall Street movement began on September 13. The 99 percent continues to gain strength, sparking other Occupy Wall Street movements in cities like Orlando, Los Angeles, and Oakland.
At first, Vaupotic was enamored by the cause against corporate greed that brought thousands of protestors to the park. After a month of camping out and playing his guitar, he now realizes that perhaps its time to get back to his own reality. His ambition is to one day create melodies with his guitar so that other people can write lyrics to them. Right now his next sept is to get a job and move to Rochester. NY.
The survey: What is a Job, Really?
I created my survey with the intention of shedding a little light on some of the less discussed elements of employment. Namely, I wanted to see whether time flexibility, vacations, stress and workload were more important determining factors in employment that simple dollars and cents.
Only three of the 26 people that took my survey believed that a stable paycheck was the most important aspect of the work that they do. Whereas, nearly half of those polled believed that a flexible schedule and good vacation time were the biggest benefits to their jobs. Most people took their job because it had an exciting work environment or substantial future opportunities.
Although nearly every person surveyed is involved in some kind of creative class employment, I believe that these results are very informative. A more expanded survey would focus on the working class, and I suspect that the results would be surprisingly similar. Seasonal labor, “gigging”, telecommuting: these are all examples of job organization strategies that have huge untapped potential in a modern, hyper-connected economy. Full-time employment presents major financial challenges for Americans that are dependent on failing transportation networks, expensive child care, and dehumanizing conditions. Perhaps tweaking the model for greater autonomy could mean less burden on employers and alleviate rat-race burdens on employees. A win-win.
The survey had several flaws. Firstly, I asked people about their own jobs, whereas I think it might have been beneficial to ask more speculative questions like “what is the most important aspect of a job” and focus directly on how they feel about the various social factors in finding employment. I especially enjoyed the question “why do you do what you do?” as it elicited some very provocative, albeit qualitative, information. One particularly interesting and poetic person had some thoughtful insight into the fruits of his labor:
“Gigs are the jobs of the future. People come to their senses and want neither to serve or be served. In lieu of a career: 100’s of meaningless gigs by which I can acquire 100’s of corresponding perspectives of the human world. Understand the bitterness of clerks, the chipperness of toothbrush operators, the true lives and opinions of the butcher, baker and candlestick maker. No station is without its secrets.”
Vincent Fontana, 33, was born into a pizza empire. His father and uncle emigrated to the United States from Sicily and opened Original Pizza on Avenue L in Canarsie with the family recipes. The pizza is good. Damn good. As the Italians moved out of the neighborhood, all the other pizza shops closed down. Original Pizza weathered the rough years and now they have five shops in every corner of Brooklyn.
Vincent Fontana certainly loves pizza, but he never intended to join the family business. He wanted to be a scientist. A zoologist, specifically. But duty calls, and family comes first, so he set his dream aside. Ten years ago, when his dad handed him the keys to Original Pizza #1, he decided it was time to spread his wings.