Vicki Cerda, 53, already has begun her transition. After 20 years as an information technology trainer for Florida Power & Light in Miami, her position was eliminated. Today, Certa splits her time between a seasonal paid job as a conference planner and a volunteer work for a nonprofit organization, e-learning for Kids Foundation, which provides free educational workshops on the Internet for children ages, five to 12. The teachers are volunteers, too. “This is cool because it’s an encore career that I can do from anywhere and I feel like I’m making a difference,” she says.
Yet, the transition phase requires an emotional adjustment or identity shift. And finding new ways to use skills, contacts and instincts may take time. “You may feel like what some have started calling, “a previously important person,” Alboher says.
Patterns of reinvention vary but often, encore careers start with volunteer gigs that get parlayed into full- or part-time paid work. One Miami woman I met volunteered to sit on the board of a theater company because of her love of the arts. In that position, she discovered she was good at fundraising. Now, she’s a paid employee, raising money for a nonprofit.
A new later-in-life job could be completely unrelated to what you previously were doing for a living. It might even evolve from a hobby or interest. In her book, Alboher describes how one senior’s love of sailing led him to an encore career with a sailing program for Boy Scouts of America.
Alboher says figuring out your encore career requires a personal process of exploring, building a network, getting necessary training, seeking out opportunity and brainstorming ways to create your own role. You might want to consult with a career coach or a friend in the same life stage, or one of the growing number of organizations focused on helping people through an encore transition. In Miami, for example, the local branch of the national ReServe organization matches professionals over age 55 with part-time paid placements at nonprofits and public agencies.
Some people come to their encore venture after working in a field for years and seeing a need. Sixteen years ago, Conchy Bretos, a former secretary for Aging and Adult Services for Florida, founded MIA Senior Living Solutions, a profitable Miami company providing assisted living services that allow low-income residents to stay in their homes rather than move into nursing homes. Bretos, 66, launched her idea with a contract from the state of Florida and now manages assisted living facilities in 23 states. “The whole aging wave makes it such an inexhaustible market,” Bretos says.
As the business evolved, Bretos has created jobs for other encore career seekers. “They are loyal, committed, dependable, and can do a multitude of tasks.” They benefit too, she says, because they are able to supplement their retirement income. But that’s just a perk, she says: “When you’re spending your 60s or 70s doing something that’s changing people’s lives, it can be very rewarding and not just financially.”
Workplace Columnist Cindy Krischer Goodman is CEO of BalanceGal, a provider of news and advice on how to balance work and life. Visit www.worklife