Banker's health warning for career-changers

Before you change careers, it's probably worth checking that you're not allergic to your dream job...

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Before you decide to change career, it's probably worth checking that you're not allergic to your dream job...

Dan Hill, a stressed-out 32 year-old banker, gave up the City high life (and an £80,000 salary) to pursue his dream to become a carpenter.  However, his career change didn’t entirely go according to plan. Within weeks, he discovered that he was allergic to wood – which is not really conducive to a career in carpentry.

After leaving behind the City smog for the clean air of Bideford in Devon, Hill noticed the problem when working on his very first piece - a workbench made of out of African hardwood.  ‘I’d been fine just pottering around on my own but it all started to go wrong when I was doing it all day’, he told the BBC. Soon his best efforts were being undermined by puffy, stinging eyes and an itchy red rash over his body – and doctors diagnosed a rare allergy to dust and wood shavings. ‘I was gutted,’ said Hill, in the manner of a sulky Premiership footballer. ‘I’d given up everything to become a carpenter’.

But although his wood-whittling career seemed to be over almost before it had begun, he was determined not to give up and go back to the City. He tried using a face mask and gloves so the wood didn’t come into contact with his skin, and even applied cream liberally at the start of ever day. Makes us wonder how awful his banking job must have been…

Fortunately however, this sad story had a happy ending. Although African hardwood was out, Hill found he could use Welsh oak without a reaction and promptly moved to Swansea – where there’s a plentiful supply of allergy-friendly timber. 

It’s a cautionary tale for any City workers daring to dream of setting up a new life. With thousands of jobs under threat as the credit crunch bites, we’re guessing there may be many in the Square Mile looking to escape their stressful desk jobs (hopefully with a tidy redundancy package in their back pocket). But as Dan Hill has shown, chasing your dreams can seriously damage your health...

(Interested in re-inventing your career? Read Helen Kirwan-Taylor's piece 'I'd Rather Be...', from the January issue of MT...)

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