Judy O’Babatunde is starting a business to help people leave their jobs and strike out on their own. (Lydia DePillis/The Washington Post)
It didn’t take long for Kenesha Thompson, 24, to figure out that she wanted to be her own boss.
“I don’t like working for other people,” says Thompson, who’s worked for a couple of non-profits since getting her associate’s degree, and never quite felt content. “There’s always rules or regulations that I may not agree with. I always like freedom of choice and expression, and not all jobs allow that.”
She might not have done anything about it, though, if a friend’s girlfriend hadn’t mentioned a mysterious free opportunity: A pilot program run by something called the “Outlook Refinery,” which promised to help her figure out how to strike out on her own. Thompson filled out an online form, and within a couple weeks, was notified that she’d been accepted.
The person at the other end of the online form was a woman who is striking out on her own herself, to start a career transition planning business from scratch. Judy O’Babatunde, 27, had a degree in fashion merchandising and had spent time as a social work for young women in transitional housing. She left her job at a large D.C. nonprofit in March of 2014 to plan her next step, and decided to focus on helping people not seeking to advance within their current workplaces, but rather to leave them altogether.
“What we work on is working with disgruntled workers who would like to enter into independent venturehood,” says O’Babatunde, using the royal “we” — the business is hers alone. “Mentally, they’re like, ‘I’m done. I’ve checked out.’ There’s a feeling in their head that’s like, ‘I’m not satisfied.’”
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