Ask Dr. Job’s chief contributor, Sandra Pesmen, is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and author of “DR. JOB’s Complete Career Guide.”

Winner of several journalism awards, Pesmen is a graduate of the University of Illinois Media College at Urbana, and is listed in several Who’s Who editions. She also has been Corporate Features Editor of Crain Communications Inc., founding Features Editor of Crain’s Chicago Business and a reporter/features writer for The Chicago Daily News.

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City Kid Wants Farm Job

Q.1 I grew up in the affluent suburb of a large city and never thought about ever doing hard, physical labor because everyone I knew worked in a white-collar job and had plenty of money. Things are different now, since my father lost his job two years ago and we all had to pitch in to help pay bills. I'm in my third year of college with a dual major of business/communications and enjoyed a well-paying summer internship in a large corporation last year. But I have a strong urge to work on a farm next summer and use my muscles to be part of the earth and help grow food . Do you think anyone would hire this city kid? I don't know any farmers to "network" with.

Ans. It's ironic that so many kids grow up on farms doing hard labor and can't wait to flee to the city and a "white-collar" job--while a city/suburban kid like you wants to take his place. There are summer farm jobs available. Do a Google search using words such as: summer farm jobs, and farming,  and you'll find such Websites as: .for seasonal summer farm work, or  . Good for you for "stepping out of the box." It will be impressive on a future resume.

Q.2 Since graduating and taking my first job I've been going out to lunch and dinner more often and, since I still live at home, my mother has wonderful meals waiting whenever I get home. The result is that I've gained about 15 pounds, in all the wrong places, and am desperate to get back onto shape. This isn't good for my social life-and certainly is not good for my professional image. I go to the gym early every morning, but that's not enough to counteract all that eating. I'm thinking of buying membership and meals from one of those national weight loss programs I see celebrities promoting on TV but wonder if that's going to just be temporary..

Ans. It's clear by watching those celebrities that many who promote those programs do return to their former weight soon after their contracts end. Some examples are Kirstie Alley, Whoopie Goldberg, Valerie Bertinelli, Ricki Lake and  Joy Behar. It proves that the same efforts must be ongoing, often for the rest of your life. On the other hand, one program that seems to be long lasting is Weight Watchers International, since stars like Jennifer Hudson stay slim many years, as do minions of non-celebrities who also endorse the program. You also may find excellent weight control, nutritional  programs through your YMCA, or local community college or church. Instead of selling packaged food, they teach ways to change your eating desires and habits, by changing the way you make food choices and snack. Most important, they teach portion control. These programs usually also provide counseling and/or group guidance for support and may cost much less than those advertised by celebrities on television..

Q. 3 After seeing the movie "Quartet" and hearing Charlie Rose Interview Director Dustin Hoffman, I realized one important thing: Never stop doing what you love, even when you're older and there's no longer a demand for your service by paying customers. The joy is in the doing. I was a classical pianist for many years and was able to support myself by taking jobs I usually found through my union. Unfortunately, after 65, demand for my services dwindled and I found myself sitting home in unwanted retirement, watching television (which was pretty boring except for those people like Charlie Rose.) My solution was to go to my church and ask the pastor if I could put a sign on the bulletin board offering free piano lessons to anyone who wanted them and couldn't afford a teacher. The response was heartwarming. I teach one-hour classes three days each week and we're preparing a repertoire of work for our first spring concert. It's something for all seniors to think about doing.

Ans. Congratulations on being so enterprising-and thanks for sharing the concept. Almost everyone can expand your concept by considering their own special skill or talent, then asking local churches, schools, community centers and civic organizations if they can teach it to others. Such skills as: carpentry, electrical wiring, or plumbing also may be taught. And you're right. The first reward is in the doing --and sharing -- knowledge.. But the second is in helping others who need it. 

Q.4 I've been working full-time as an editor for a small publishing firm many years, but in the recession I feel less secure. Also, my workload doubled because of layoffs. Everyone is nervous here, and I'm wondering if I might find more happiness and satisfaction if I quit and just began to free lance. 

Ans. You may find more happiness, but you also may find less income and no medical coverage and that's a big concern at this particular time. But there are two sides of this answer: a recent article by American Writers & Artists, Inc, claims baby boomers, retirees and others are fleeing the work world to embrace that freedom of freelance life. It names downsizing, layoffs, and company shut downs as the new reality in today's economy, not to mention the stress of working for one company. Yet, while free-lancing tends to help you avoid those, the big question is whether you can afford to take that leap of faith. Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On one side list salary and all benefits of your present job, including paid vacation and medical care. On the other list all potential clients and profits you hope to have from a free-lance career. The result should be obvious. If you have a partner or spouse who can pay your expenses while you get started, you're ahead. If not, it's an uphill battle, particularly since so many people have been forced into the free-lance field by layoffs. A better plan is to keep the day job as long as possible, but spend evening and weekends and lunch and break time making contacts and networking with potential clients. When you have a full roster (and some way to have steady additional income from partner or family) you will have a more steady board to dive from. 

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