Freelance Projects in the Disabilities Space

Posted by: Francesca Di Meglio on June 22, 2009

With the economy in turmoil, many MBA graduates are finding the job search tough going. To give readers some insight into the strategies they’re pursuing and the difficulties they face, BusinessWeek has recruited four out-of-work MBAs to write about their experiences for a new feature called “The Hunt” that will appear periodically on the Getting In blog. Comments, as always, are welcome.

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By Michael Janger
As I transition from my recent layoff from American Express (AXP) to a new role in either finance or strategy, I have been working on some engagements that have given me much fulfillment and satisfaction, and which has afforded me a convenient way to provide an essential service while I get ready for my wedding next week.

With my personal experience as a profoundly deaf person who has dealt with many challenges in his life, and my recognition that technology is a powerful enabler for people with disabilities, some clients in the disabilities space have been seeking out my services. With my substantial experience in finance and strategy, I often find that there are many companies in the disabilities market who have a need for this type of strategic leadership and guidance on its financial and marketing decisions.

Since I left Amex, I’ve had an unusual job search. Both my wedding planning and my career considerations combined to make it an extremely challenging experience for me. After 12 years of working in large corporations where I have built up a strong set of skills and developed deep experience in many areas of finance, I realized that I have little desire to work for this type of corporation. It is a risk to say this: by publicizing this on a well-known site like Businessweek.com, I am foreclosing options for interviewing with Fortune 500 corporations at the moment. Perhaps it is me – I need a different challenge, and working for a smaller company or a boutique firm is what I want to do. Or I can work for myself.

For most people, a wedding is a preparation for a life ahead that demands not only a sense of adventure and excitement but a good deal of planning as couples share their assets and get ready for joint house down payments, children, and retirement savings. Someone who is getting ready to be married is usually looking for something stable in a job or a regular paycheck.

In my situation, it is the other way around. Switching out of a role in finance, which has been my career for 12 years, and doing something a little bit different, is not a sign of stability. As a result, we have a real challenge as we get married and settle down. However, what I find very important is to have a strong passion for what I do.

As someone who has dealt with many challenges as a deaf person, I have always relied on technology as a way to get the kind of access to the things a non-deaf person takes for granted. Technology is an empowering tool for people with disabilities, providing them with the equal access they need to live a full, functioning life on par with those who do not have these disabilities. This truly drives my work with my clients in the disabilities space.

So, as I work on some contractual engagements with clients in the disabilities space (and also general consulting), I continue to learn more about this market and the amazing people who work hard to make things a little better for themselves in spite of their handicaps. It is the best part of my work right now.

As you might have been able to tell, I have been incredibly busy with work and wedding commitments, as the big day is nearing. However, I wanted to share with you my current goings-on, in this strange, funny world of the job search, wedding, and honeymoon.

With that said, I will not be contributing to “The Hunt” for the next several weeks as I focus on getting married to my wonderful, beautiful woman, and spending time in Italy with her afterward. Until then, all the best. It has been a treat writing this blog, and I look forward to continuing this when I get back.

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