'How I survived my career reinvention'

These six people were brave enough to take the leap and change their careers -- most of them with the help of Pamela Mitchell's Reinvention Institute. Here's how they did it.

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Kendra Cunningham, 37
Then: Mutual fund trader
Now: Standup comedian

You wouldn't guess it from that outrageous photo, but Kendra Cunningham spent a decade in the Boston investing scene. She began at Boston Financial Data Services, a customer service firm for Fidelity Investments, and moved to Smith Barney and eventually Leerink Swann.

"I ended up having some high managerial roles in terms of trading and compliance. But it was never something I was passionate about. It was just a way to make money," Cunningham says.

She moved to New York "on a whim" and fell into more of the same, temping at Goldman Sachs at one point.

At last, she took a class in comedic writing and discovered her creative side. Cunningham started a humor blog, Blonde Logic, and found standup gigs. But she didn't feel secure with her pursuits until a short film that she wrote and starred in won best film at the Boston Comedy Festival last year.

Comedic success has been hard won, and she has fought many hesitations. "There's a lot of time spent doing shows you don't even get paid for. My other issue was fear that I wouldn't be able to do it."

But she is doing it; bartending on the side helps.

"This is not as lucrative as being a trader was, by any means," she admits. "Then again, I'm probably the happiest I've ever been in my life. Besides college."


NEXT: Mark Lewis, 48
Last updated February 07 2011: 5:38 PM ET
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