Unemployment Is Fun!

After graduating from Staples (1992) and the University of Michigan, Kerry Quinn embarked on career in advertising.  For 11 years she worked and lived in New York.  Then, in a “you only live once” decision, she moved to L.A.

She loved California, and her job in a small agency.  But in 2009 their major client — a bank — was seized by the FDIC, and sold at auction.  A few months later, her office closed.

Kerry was unemployed.

At first she felt depressed and dejected — “like a failure,” she says.  Her days lacked structure.  With the economy in the toilet, tasks like networking and acting upbeat during interviews seemed almost unbearable.

After “wallowing” for a couple of weeks, Kerry got an email offering a free exercise class with a celebrity trainer — on a Wednesday afternoon.

“I started to delete it.  Then I thought, ‘hey — I can do this!” Kerry recalls.

Kerry Quinn

She was spending her days sending out resumes.  But she realized she also had time to do things she’d always wanted to do:  Learn to cook healthfully.  Sell unneeded items.  Reduce her debt.

Kerry had a “funemployment” epiphany.  She would not sit around watching “Wire” marathons — but she could stop pitying herself, and enjoy her new free time.

After 2 months, she landed a small freelance project.  She then spent 4 months full-time, filling in for a pregnant woman.  But, Kerry says, the bulk of her past year and a half has taken her on a “funemployment” journey.

“I changed my outlook,” she says.  “I learned I didn’t have to work 14 hours a day, and ignore the rest of my life.  I need to take care of myself too.”

At networking events — she did not abandon those — she described her philosophy.  People told her she seemed so positive.  They urged her to share her excitement with others.

Kerry started a blog, called LovingFunemployment.

Then — running into people who were not having fun unemployment experiences, because they were depressed or suicidal — she wrote a book.

Funemployed:  Finding the Upside in the Downturn has just been e-published.  With chapters ranging from taking up painting and getting in shape to volunteering, traveling and dating, Kerry spreads the message that readers should not view unemployment as a failure, nor should they internalize it.

The idea behind “funemployment,” she says, is “to go into your next job with a good outlook.”  You can do that by “having some fun.  And don’t feel guilty about doing that.”

This sounds like a recipe for parody — or at least criticism that most unemployed Americans have more on their minds (and less opportunity to pursue it) than yoga lessons or trips to Paris.

“I anticipated that,” Kerry says.  “But I haven’t heard it yet.”

She understands, she adds, that her way  “is not something everyone can do.  If you have a mortgage and 3 kids, and you have to hustle full-time for your next job, ‘funemployment’ can seem trivial and trite.  But I talk about debt management, creating structure in your day, and selling stuff on eBay or taking jobs like babysitting or dog-walking without violating unemployment benefits.”

Her book, she says, “is not all about having fun.  It’s about dealing with issues people face.”

As for those exercise classes, “they don’t have to cost a lot, if you use trial offers or Groupon.”

How long can someone last “funemployed”?

“It depends,” Kerry says.  “You have to figure out your severance, savings and unemployment.  It’s different for each person.”

She is “lucky” to have freelance work, she knows.  “Full-time work in California is tough to find.”

Hopefully too, the book will generate income.

While doing publicity for the book, Kerry is learning new skills.  She hopes they’ll make her even more marketable during the job interviews she continues to pursue.

Landing a new job in advertising “makes the most sense — I’ve got 14 years experience,” she says.

“But I love writing.  Maybe I’ll do TV scripts — or another book.  Writing this one really reignited my passion for writing.”

Chalk up one more benefit to “funemployment.”

(Funemployed is an e-book.  To download it from Amazon, click here.)

29 responses to “Unemployment Is Fun!

  1. Great! Let’s raise unemployment benefits to $5000 per week and more of us can be funemployed !

  2. All my friends in advertising with kids think they’re doing meaningful work and pretend they like it. All my friends in advertising without kids know they’re not and if they’re lucky move on.

  3. The Dude Abides

    Should be plenty of readers with the unemployment rate so high. The benefits seem extraordinary e.g the same what a E-5 makes in Afganistan but such is the way of the world. Necessity is the mother of invention and it sounds like this sassy gal has found her calling.

  4. I had funemployment the first time too, 20 years ago. But the second time, and the third, after benefits ran out, savings dwindled to nothing, COBRA ran out — it wasn’t so much fun. I’m temping now as often as I can, and doing some volunteer work. How does Kerry pay for health insurance? Maybe in California she gets it free?

  5. I don’t think thirty-somethings worry about health insurance. I doubt if California is giving anything away free these days.

  6. No FDIC barker

    Just for clarification, the FDIC doesn’t sell a bank at “auction”. They normally find another bank to buy up the performing loans/assets before they close the insolvent bank. The FDIC then attempts to liquidate or negotiate out the “toxic” assets or bad loans by collection efforts or litigation. The FDIC is funded by premiums by the participating banks and not by the federal government.

  7. Curious II

    I wonder why income from dog walking or baby sitting does not jeopardize your unemployment benefits????? Perhaps, because it is cash???

  8. Princeton '82

    Ad revenues are way down. 99% of all writers can not make a living doing so. I suggest, Kelly, that you look toward health, energy or the federal government for employment.

  9. Best writers in America are writing advertising copy.

  10. Kerry rocks! I’m sick of pesemistic unemployed people. Yes the job market can get discouraging, but if you don’t keep your head up then nothing good will come out of it. It’s life. Job opportunities are all about networking and you can’t meet new people to network with if you are chilling at ur pad! My grandmother always said “god helps those who help themselves……”

    • Mama used to say “life is a box of chocolates, you never know what you are gonna get” too and it made about much sense as Granny. At $525.00 a week unemployment, many have given up looking for a job. I guess they have a right to be “pesemistic.”

      • Those nasty unemployed. Everything is their fault.

      • Based on today’s job numbers, more people will have the opportunity to enjoy unemployment.

        • The Dude Abides

          Yep, that light at the end of the tunnel is another train. May need another war to get us going again.

  11. My, my aren’t we bitter. Unemployment is nobody’s idea of a fun time but for crying out loud, this woman has written a book to try to keep our spirits high and actually ENJOY life when things aren’t going perfectly. She certainly isn’t suggesting we raise benefits to $5K so we can lounge around. I appreciate the intent and tone of this book; most of the comments on this thread, not so much.

    • Gee, imagine being bitter? Bush takes a surplus and spends it all on wars leaving the economy in shambles and Obama renews the tax cuts for the rich 1%. Now we borrow 40 cents for every dollar we spend and unemployment, including those who have stop looking, nearing 13%. You need a reality check, lady or maybe you don’t work. Kerry is trying to make a buck on a book, let’s not forget that. That is super but let’s not romanticize it.

      • I feel so sad for you.

        • No you don’t. That is some kind of condescending b.s. But I am semi-retired and my net worth is well in to the 7 figures so save it. You should focus your attention on the 20 million out of work who are losing their homes here instead of being some kind of pollyanna Stepford clone. Kerry knows the score. You ain’t even in the game.

          • No, I do feel sad for you. Very. You don’t know ANYTHING about me and you are attacking me simply because I defended the author’s positive attitude. I feel very sad for you because your attitude makes you the way you are.

            And if you’re so well-off, why aren’t YOU focusing your attention on helping others instead of going apeshit on a local blog?

            • I do. I fought the fat white men in board rooms for decades so you could be your sassy condescending self and so Kerry could go to University of Michigan in the first place. I am the feminist that allows you to roar. I didn’t do it so you could judge other sisters to what we do now. I burned that bra years back when you were just a wet dream in your father’s bedclothes. Grow up and take off those ridiculous rose-colored glasses. Go to work and stop judging others who think unemployment is sinful. Positive? You are a bore.

              • Sad piece of demented garbage. Please seek help for your rage issues.

                • Thelma Jensen

                  Now I raised a handicapped child and worked my entire life. You seem to be very good at judging people, Sally. Not so good about being judged.

                • If you have a legitimate argument of why the unemployed should seek fun and enjoy their fate, please state it. But just making judgement calls and promulgating an argumentative banter is counterproductive and as stated by “bRA” above, borish. It is a scary time for many right now.

  12. It is what it is and fun isn’t in the equation

  13. New rule: Lose your job – stop having fun. It must suck to be a child of someone who is unemployed. Not only is your family broke, but they can’t have any fun any more. Well at least there won’t be any moral hazard. ROTFLMAO.

  14. Nathan Poe was weird.

  15. 20 million unemployed. No joke. Enjoy it? Are you serious?