NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – It’s called the pandemic pivot – people shifting into new careers by embracing the excitement of it rather than dreading the change.

CBS2’s Dave Carlin has a pair of success stories and some expert advice.

“The newness is very exciting to me,” said Bryan Atienza.

After 14 successful years in Manhattan real estate, Atienza is trading suits for scrubs.

“Hoping to practice medicine and also develop health care facilities,” Atienza said.


He’s heading back into the classroom. Wednesday was his first day at Union County College to get his science classes under his belt, on the road to becoming a doctor.

“I didn’t like  that I was a nonessential worker,” he said. “I researched the need for healthcare professionals and I got a lot of support from my friends and family.

COVID-19 also necessitated a pandemic pivot for actor/dancer MacKenzie Warren, who found something new right at her fingertips.

“How about I look at this as an adventure?” Warren said.

Warren starred in Cats and other Broadway shows. The pandemic forced her to look at other skills, and she found the art, calligraphy and graphic art she used to do on the side could sustain her. Family, friends and friends of friends are hiring her.

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“They’ll reach out to me for projects and orders, and I feel so loved and carried through this time,” she said.

Don’t expect that you can move in to a new work arena all alone says career coach Christine O’Neill.

“Ask for help. Surround yourself with people who challenge you and support you on your journey,” O’Neill said.

“I’m looking at this as a time of refreshment and creativity,” Warren said. “I look forward to the day when Broadway reopens, and regional reopens and we can gather and tell these beautiful stories.”

And Atienza will combine his business savvy and medicine.

“Ready to get to work,” he said.

In a way that maybe is not as big a change as it might seem, they look at it as career enhancement, courtesy of COVID.

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