Several months ago I heard about a workshop for Boomers who wanted to begin a new career. I asked my mom if she wanted to come along, even though she is just a little older than us Boomers. So, with tickets in hand, we found Lasell College in Newton, MA and spent an entire Saturday in a very eye-opening session. There were over 225 people, all 50 and older, in attendance, and not a single person ducked out early!
One non-profit group in the Boston area has done a tremendous job (no pun intended!) creating a venue for older workers, pre-retirees and retirees to:
• come together with others in similar situations,
• explore new options for viable work in your 50’s and beyond, and
• put a structure around a process for reinventing yourself.
Discovering What’s Next started in 2002 as a service to the local community in Newton, MA. The founders identified that there was a missing link for Boomers who were entering middle age. They recognized that it was challenging for older workers to break into new careers or start to scale back from their demanding jobs. Boomers simply didn’t know where to begin. As a result, the founders at DWN started to build a network of resources and created a process to “help midlife and older adults negotiate the transition we experience as we approach and journey through retirement.” Ten+ years later, they are going gangbusters!
Mom and I saw first-hand what this idea of “encore careers” is all about. There were presentations, panels of academic experts, folks from the Social Security Administration and a few financial services companies with information about creating income in retirement. There were breakout sessions and time to network and talk with other attendees about how to get started on a new path now that your 30-year career was coming to an end. Speakers included Pulitzer Prize winning columnist, Ellen Goodman, and economist, Barry Bluestone who gave us a terrific overview of the demographic trends and how older workers would actually be in short supply over the coming decade.
DWN focused on how to find opportunities in four key areas that would leverage Boomers’ experiences and help educate the younger generations of workers:
• Teaching – With a shortage of high-quality math and science teachers, workers with technical careers might consider switching to middle and high schools to teach.
• Service – Often a good route to employment is to start by volunteering. Find a not-for-profit organization that you love, volunteer, then look for paid opportunities.
• Health Care Support –Aging Boomers are in need of a variety of services to stay in-home. There are cottage industries popping up to help care for aging neighbors.
• Environmental – Not since the 1970’s has there been so much focus on “getting green.” Many new industries need experienced project managers and value experience as they ramp up.
It was a fascinating day. Both informative and shocking. As a lagging-edge Boomer in what is probably the height of my career, I have not given much thought as to what I might be doing at 60, 70 or 80. But, the people in attendance were highly motivated, and even a bit scared, as they faced the reality that they needed to find their inner strength and single-handedly recreate themselves. At least for leading-edge Boomers near Boston, there is a terrific group that can help with the process.
Other resources are available to help you find your encore career, including:
From AARP: Life Reimagined
From MSN Money: Ten New Careers After Age 50
From Forbes: How Women Can Reinvent Their Careers After 50
From CNN Money: Best Jobs If You Are Over 50