In a recent column I described four types of working retirees and their motivation based on a survey by Age Wave and Merrill Lynch. A reader asked, “What about encore careers?”
That topic deserves a column of its own.
Let’s begin with acknowledging that retirees are one of the most underutilized of our natural human resources. Encore.org, a nonprofit think tank in Northern California, is intent on changing that.
With CEO Marc Freedman, Encore.org has launched a type of work in the second half of life that embraces purpose, passion and a paycheck for the greater good.
One of its goals is to engage millions of individuals, midlife and beyond, in careers that combine social impact, personal meaning and continued income.
According to the Encore.org website, “The expected outcome is a windfall of human talent that can help solve society’s greatest problems.”
The timing and rationale are clear. According to economists, there will be too few workers for the many projected jobs, given the retirement of the baby boomers. At the same time, we have complex problems in education, health care, the environment and more that require the creativity and talent of many.
Retirees are part of that talent pool. Longer life expectancy combined with retirees’ experience, skills and drive provides the perfect opportunity for encore careers to flourish.
The interest is high. A survey by the MetLife Foundation and Encore.org. found half of those 44 to 70 years old want encore careers. Additionally, 9 million Americans in that same age group currently are in an encore career, with 31 million expressing interest in pursuing one.
Encore opportunities currently are dominant in five areas: health care, education, the environment, nonprofit organizations and government.
If you have some interest, here are some things to initially consider.
• Determine how much money you need or want. Are you prepared to live with less if your dream encore position does not pay well? Are you prepared to work in an encore career that offers no pay?
• Find your passion or calling in life. Ask yourself, “What does the world need that will ignite the passions in my heart?”
Don’t get hung up on the word “passion.” This is a generation that did not use the term when it came to work. Years ago, many worked to make a living and that was the goal.
• Speak with your mate or partner (if you have one). Have a conversation to discuss your visions for the future. Perhaps your mate also wants an opportunity to make a difference in this world and be fully engaged. In contrast, your mate may dream of touring the U.S. in an RV while you are ready for your encore career. It might be time to talk.
Here are two of the many programs offered by Encore.org:
Encore Fellowships are designed to deliver new talent to organizations solving important social problems. They are paid and time limited, matching the skill and experience of professionals with organizations that have a social impact.
Fellowships typically are six to 12 months, half to full time with a stipend. Fellows learn about social-purpose work and develop contacts and resources for the future.
Because of limited funding, acceptance is competitive. For more information, go to www.encore.org/fellowships.
In 2014, more than 270 Encore Fellows in 35 metropolitan areas in the U.S. are working at nonprofit and public agencies. The program was featured in the Winter 2013 issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review and selected as a finalist for the 2013 Eisner Prize for Intergenerational Excellence.
Intel is a good example of an employer committed to encore careers. The company offers all of its U.S. retirement-eligible employees the chance to apply for a fellowship. Intel covers the one-year, half-time fellowship stipends of $25,000.
Another program is the annual Purpose Prize awarded to individuals 60 and older.
These winners have combined their passion and experience for social good, creating new ways of solving social problems. The program showcases the value of experience.
Here are some recommended resources: www.encore.org and “The Encore Career Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life” by Marci Alboher (Workman, $16).
Pearl Buck said it well: “To find joy in work is to discover the fountain of youth.” And if that work is for the greater good, that’s a bonus.
This article was written by our friend Helen Dennis and posted in the Los Angeles Daily News.
About the Author:
Helen Dennis is nationally recognized leader on issues of aging, employment and retirement with academic, corporate and non profit experience. She has received numerous awards for her university teaching at USC’s Andrus Gerontology Center and for her contributions to the field of aging and the community. Editor of two books, author of over 50 articles, frequent speaker and weekly columnist on Successful Aging for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group, she has assisted over 10,000 employees to prepare for the non-financial aspects of their retirement. In her volunteer life, she has served as president of five nonprofit organizations. Fully engaged in the field of aging, she was a delegate to the 2005 White House Conference on Aging and is co-author of the Los Angeles Times bestseller, “Project Renewment®: The First Retirement Model for Career Women.” Helen has extensive experience with the media including Prime Time, NPR, network news, the Wall Street Journal, Sacramento Bee and Christian Science Monitor. She recently was the recipient of the excellence in literary arts award from the Torrance Cultural Arts Commission.