CAREERS : SHIFTING GEARS : Careers for the Ages : Preparing for Brave New World of Work Means Breaking Out of Lock-Step Notions : AT THE MIDDLE : Baby-Boomers Are Compromising, Making the Most of Their Options


In the 1980s, Mira Anixt-Greenwald was a yuppie--a highly sought-after one at that. Working in direct marketing for Citibank’s credit card division in New York, she was used to getting regular calls from head hunters. She was in high demand and itching to continue her upward trajectory. She was exactly where she wanted to be.

It was a headhunter’s call that brought the high-powered thirtysomething to Los Angeles four years ago to work as an account manager at a well-known advertising agency. But when the firm’s major account, Security Pacific Bank, merged with Bank of America two years later, she found herself out of work, out of step--and a little scared.

For the first time ever, she was looking at the job listings in the newspapers. For the first time ever, she called the head hunters herself. And for the first time, they had nothing to offer her.


Eventually Anixt-Greenwald found a sales job at a marketing information firm, for considerably less money than she’d been used to commanding. It wasn’t anything like the work she had done before. Instead of conceptualizing marketing ideas, she was telemarketing computer software to businesses. And with the Southern California economy in a slump, it was, she says, “a very hard sell.”

Several weeks ago she left the firm. Now, with the help of an outplacement counseling program, Anixt-Greenwald, 37, is rethinking her priorities, laying plans for what could be a very different career from the one she had pursued since college.

“When I first moved out here, it was like a brave new world,” Anixt-Greenwald remembers. “I was going to network myself to death and make as much money as I possibly could, and I was so optimistic.”

But she took a 25% pay cut to land a job after being laid off from her $70,000-a-year-plus-stock-options marketing job, and faces the potential of another cut now. However, that prospect is less onerous than it would have been several years ago.

Now money isn’t as important to her. Although she would like to pull down at least $65,000 per year, she is willing to trade her salary demands for a more flexible job arrangement. “If I don’t have to, I don’t want to go back into a traditional setting. I’d like to be self-employed and have enough freedom to have a family,” she says.

Like so many people her age who have been involuntarily derailed from unbroken career tracks by the economic recession, Anixt-Greenwald is re-evaluating.


“Here I am 37, and I’m at a point were I’m looking at a lot of different things. I’d like to find something that I love. I’m married now, so I’m thinking about having children. So maybe I find a part-time job that I can work into my day-to-day life, that wouldn’t interfere with having a family. . .But those are not the types of jobs that really pay well, so I’m not sure.”

Upon the advice of career counselor Susan Miller at Vocational Training Consulting Services, Anixt-Greenwald is drafting several resumes. And, she says, she is somewhat surprised at how many directions she could take.

Options include working with her husband’s real estate business (she’s in the midst of getting her brokers’ license) or looking for a marketing job in the budding interactive multimedia industry.

Another possibility is a return to nonprofit work. When she was a communications undergraduate, an internship at a nonprofit firm led to her first job in 1980 as a direct marketing manager and launched her career. “That’s the kind of job I’d love,” Anixt-Greenwald says. “But I know I’d have to compromise on salary.”

Even if she doesn’t go the nonprofit route, Anixt-Greenwald realizes she may never make the kind of money she expected to be making when she looked ahead to this point in the early days of her career.

“I have a very service-oriented background. I’ve worked in marketing departments and ad agencies as an account executive, and there are so many people out there that are looking for these types of positions. You can find a $40,000-a-year-person for a job that somebody used to get $60,000-$80,000 for,” Anixt-Greenwald says. “It’s pretty amazing.”