Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Baby boomers reinventing themselves with encore careers

Marci Alboher, vice president of Encore.org, says that baby boomers looking to change careers need to think about issues that matter to them and consider taking volunteer opportunities in a field where they can make a difference.

Associated Press

Marci Alboher, vice president of Encore.org, says that baby boomers looking to change careers need to think about issues that matter to them and consider taking volunteer opportunities in a field where they can make a difference.

CHICAGO

Here go the baby boomers again, reinventing themselves and bucking tradition as they bear down on retirement. • This time they're leading a push into so-called encore careers — paid work that combines personal meaning with social purpose. As many as 9 million people ages 44 to 70 already are in such careers as the second or third acts of their working lives, according to nonprofit think tank Encore.org.

The demographics of 78 million baby boomers should ensure that this careers shift accelerates, says Encore.org vice president Marci Alboher.

Alboher, whose soon-to-be-released The Encore Career Handbook is an invaluable resource for older workers looking for purposeful career alternatives, discussed the phenomenon in an interview.

What steps can be taken to lay the groundwork for an encore career?

Start by thinking about your own interests. What would you want to do if you weren't doing what you've been doing for the last 20 or 30 years? What issues matter enough that you would want to volunteer your time or talents if you knew you could make a difference? Let yourself dream a little.

Identify people who have reinvented themselves in a way that's helping their community or the world. Make a coffee date with one of them and ask how they made the transition. You might find something that resonates with you.

The best thing you can do to actually get started is to volunteer. Check out AARP's createthegood.org, volunteer match.org and, for both work and volunteer opportunities, idealist.org .

What fields offer the most plentiful opportunities for meaningful work?

Health care, education, green jobs, government, nonprofits. (encore.org/work/top5)

Health care is really the No. 1 field to look at in terms of both needs and opportunities. With an aging population and the changes that are coming in our health care system, there are needs and opportunities for all kinds of work whether you have a medical orientation in your background or just want to help people.

How useful are career coaches and how much do they cost?

They can help if you're stuck and think you could benefit from working one-on-one with someone and being held accountable. But this professional help doesn't come cheap. Rates can range from $80 to $90 an hour to more than $200 an hour.

There are some ways to get low-cost coaching. Some coaches offer group sessions, and many community colleges offer free or low-cost coaching or career exploration courses (encore.org/colleges ). Local organizations focusing on encore activities have sprouted up across the country. (www.encore.org/connect/local ) Or check CareerOneStop (careeronestop.org), a program run by the Labor Department, to see if there are any offerings in your area.

Do these careers usually involve a big drop in income?

Not necessarily.

If the work sounds altruistic in some way, most people assume they'll be making less money. For people coming from high-level jobs in the for-profit sector, they very well may be facing a cut in pay. But for people whose primary career was focused in the social purpose arena — at a nonprofit, or in social work or education, where money is not the main motivator — many of these encore reinventions don't involve a pay cut at all.

How big a barrier is age discrimination?

It exists. But if you feel like your age is getting in the way of what you want to do, it could be simply that you don't have the proper skills for what you're interviewing for. And that could be related to the fact you haven't brushed up your skills in the last 20 or 30 years.

I always encourage people to think about what can they do to make sure that their skills are current and that they're presenting properly.

How feasible is it to launch your own business with a social purpose?

The social entrepreneurship sector — businesses that have a social mission as well as a financial bottom line — is really growing. There's a very high interest in entrepreneurship among older workers.

There are pros and cons. Being your own boss can give you more control over your life. And it can be a good fit for people who are tired of having a manager.

But most people who start a business, especially one designed to do some good in the world, find that they are working harder than ever. And you do have lots of bosses, even as an entrepreneur — your clients, your funders.

Before rushing to start your own thing, consider offering your skills to another encore entrepreneur and also take a look at freelancing or self-employment. Those may be ways to have more control and autonomy, while still having an impact — and keeping the risk down somewhat.

Baby boomers reinventing themselves with encore careers 09/16/12 [Last modified: Sunday, September 16, 2012 7:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. What you need to know for Thursday, Oct. 19

    News

    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today

    White nationalist Richard Spencer is scheduled to speak at the University of Florida tonight and the school is on high alert for tensions. [Associated Press]
  2. Bowen: Park land deal raises Penny for Pasco questions

    Environment

    The Penny for Pasco is unambiguous.

    At least it is supposed to be.

    There was no equivocating in 2004 when Penny for Pasco supporters detailed how the sales tax proceeds would be spent: schools, transportation, public safety and environmental lands. No money for parks. No money for recreation.

    Pasco County is considering a loan from its Environmental Lands Acquisition and Mangement Program to buy land for a park in the Villages of Pasadena Hills in east-central Pasco. Shown here is the Jumping Gully Preserve in Spring Hil, acquired by ELAMP in 2009 and 2011.
[Douglas R. Clifford, Times]
  3. Another Tampa Bay agency loses tax credits worth millions in dispute over application error

    News

    LARGO — Another Tampa Bay housing agency has lost out on a multi-million dollar tax credit award because of problems with its application.

    A duplex in Rainbow Village, a public housing complex in Largo. The Pinellas County Housing Authority is planning to build new affordable-housing in the complex but was recently disqualified from a state tax credit award because of an issue with its application.
  4. Live blog: Many unknowns as Richard Spencer speaks in Gainesville today

    College

    GAINESVILLE — A small army of law enforcement officers, many of them from cities and counties around the state, have converged on the University of Florida in preparation for today's speaking appearance by white nationalist Richard Spencer.

    Florida Highway Patrol cruisers jammed the parking lot Wednesday at the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center in Gainesville, part of a big show of force by law enforcement ahead of Thursday's appearance by white nationalist Richard Spencer. [KATHRYN VARN | Times]
  5. As Clearwater Marine Aquarium expands, it asks the city for help

    Growth

    CLEARWATER — When Clearwater Marine Aquarium CEO David Yates saw an architect's initial design for the facility's massive expansion project, he told them to start all over.

    Clearwater Marine Aquarium Veterinarian Shelly Marquardt (left), Brian Eversole, Senior Sea Turtle and Aquatic Biologist (middle) and Devon Francke, Supervisor of Sea Turtle Rehab, are about to give a rescued juvenile green sea turtle, suffering from a lot of the Fibropapillomatosis tumors, fluids at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium Wednesday afternoon. Eventually when the turtle is healthy enough the tumors will be removed with a laser and after it is rehabilitated it will be released back into the wild.  -  The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is launching a $66 million renovation to expand its facilities to take in injured animals and space to host visitors. The aquarium is asking the city for a $5 million grant Thursday to help in the project. American attitudes toward captive animals are changing. Sea World is slipping after scrutiny on the ethics of captive marine life. But CEO David Yates says CMA is different, continuing its mission of rehab and release, it's goal is to promote education, not exploitation. JIM DAMASKE   |   Times