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Job-Swapping Vacations

As it turns out, zookeeping is my dream job, mostly because I'd prefer to dream about it rather than actually do it. But I'm glad I found that out, partly because now I can stop kicking myself for majoring in English and partly because it makes me appreciate my own job—even the eBay part—that much more.

VocationVacations is taking off. In just a year's time, over 50 people have signed up for a package, and several are seriously considering changing careers as a result of their experiences. Ben Pote, 18, of Nashville, received a two-day Vocation package at a New York television-production company as a Hanukkah present. He started college last fall and hopes that a little hands-on professional experience will help him decide what field to eventually choose. More typical, however, are vocationers like Chris, a 36-year-old computer-systems analyst in Dallas, who did not want his full name used lest his employer catch wind of his plans. Chris did a stint at a winery in Napa Valley last year and says he's now looking into how he might make a permanent switch. "I've spent my whole working life in corporate America," he tells me. "With the winemaking, what I enjoyed most was the manual labor, putting on a pair of jeans and boots and going and saying, 'Yeah, we accomplished something today.'"

Actually accomplishing something?You can't take that to the beach (unless you pick the forthcoming marine biologist package). Meanwhile, if anyone's dream job involves being a freelance writer who likes to auction off her old roller skates, I think we can work something out.

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