Hundreds attend SF's "LaidOffCamp"

March 3, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Recently laid off Bay Area workers attend "LaidOffCamp."

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We all know someone who has lost a job in this economy. Many of the unemployed in the Bay Area are white collar workers who found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong economic time.

Normally, when people crowd into a nightclub they are looking for good times. But this time it was about making the best of bad ones.

One of every 10 Californians is unemployed right now.

"They didn't lose their jobs because of performance issues. They lost their job because the jobs disappeared," said software contractor Terry Newman.

So, Chris Hutchins put together what he calls a "LaidOffCamp," which would be the opposite of summer camp, because he is on the beach, too. He had hoped for maybe 100 people, but got a lot more.

The good news at an event like this is that participants know they are not alone.

"I guess if you figure everyone in the world is an expert at something, so if you can bring together a lot of people that share a common cause, they can share information and put it to good use," said Hutchins.

This includes stuff like how to create a personal brand and begin looking for that job.

"Well, the first thing you don't do is sit at home and send your resume via the Internet, which is what 90 percent of people do," said career advisor Chris Fogarty.

They also talked about coping with the unfairness of bad outcomes from good efforts.

"I know I did the right thing. I went to college, grad school, have a masters degree," said Cathy Goerz

Goerz spent a dozen years as a corporate image consultant. She went from near six figures to no figures in two months.

"Two months I have been unemployed and I am going like this -- it's a roller coaster," said Goerz.

They all are, but in this place, on this day at least, misery loved company.

"What would your mother say about this?" asked ABC7's Wayne Freedman.

"My mother plans conferences," said Hutchins.

It appears she taught him well.

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