According to a recent survey by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 80 percent of working Americans over the age of 50 say they plan to keep working, at least part-time, after they retire. The reasons? Well, they’re varied. Some keep working because they haven’t saved enough to completely stop working. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the U.S. savings rate fell to 2.4 percent this past December. For others, they want to bulk up their savings in case of major medical expenses. The average 65-year-old couple retiring this year is likely to spend more than $250,000 on medical care not covered by Medicare over the rest of their lifetimes. But for others it’s all about staying active and feeling useful. Whatever your reason may be, an “encore career,” which is a new career you’ve begun in your later years, maybe something you’re contemplating or something you’ve already started. I talked to Marci Alboher, Vice President of Encore.org, a non-profit organization that taps the skills and experience of those in midlife and beyond to improve communities and the world, to help us get a better understanding of encore careers. Alboher is also the author of the Encore Career Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life.
Mark Fadden (MF): “Please briefly describe Encore.org’s mission and its initiatives.”
Marci Alboher (MA): “Encore.org is an innovation hub, inspiring, supporting and connecting leaders who develop new ways to tap the talent of the encore population. A few key initiatives: Encore Fellowships match seasoned employees with high-impact assignments in nonprofit organizations, delivering a new source of talent to the social sector while helping people in later life transition to new careers. The Generation to Generation (Gen2Gen) campaign is about connecting adults 50+ with young people who need champions.
“The purest essence of the encore movement is captured in this quote which inspires our team: ‘A society grows great when old people plant trees under whose shade they’ll never sit.’ We call that living Gen2Gen…living in a way that creates a better future for future generations.”
MF: “So what exactly is an “encore” career? Can you define some specific jobs?”
MA: “An encore career is a new chapter of work, often after a primary career, which blends purpose, passion and often a paycheck. Encore jobs tend to leverage the kinds of qualities that deepen with age -- mentoring, coaching, leading, listening. So popular encore roles include teachers, caretakers, and coaches of all kinds, healthcare navigators and nonprofit leaders.
“People over 50 are among the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurs. Many are drawn to self-employment and consulting as a way to work flexibly and, frankly, avoid age discrimination. And many of these self-starters are interested in doing work that marries meaning and mission -- improving lives while providing a modest income.”
MF: “If someone is contemplating making a significant move to begin an encore career (retiring from their current career, moving to a new city, etc.) what are the five things they should do first?”
MA: “1. Start exploring and planning while you still have a job.
2. Sock away some money to give yourself a cushion if you want to take a gap year or invest in some reskilling.
3. Talk to people who are doing the kinds of work you think interests you.
4. Give yourself away! Volunteer your time and talents to causes you care about, while dipping into new worlds to test the waters.
5. Embrace detours. The path to an encore career will take you in unexpected directions. You can’t know how it’s going to end up when you get started.”
MF: “Can Encore.org help me find any job in my “second act?”
MA: “Encore is not is not a job placement service, but many people will find encore career through following our work and getting involved in various activities happening in the encore movement. As already mentioned, if you’re looking for a role in the nonprofit sector, consider applying for an Encore Fellowship. And if you want to make a difference in the lives of young people, get involved in our Gen2Gen campaign. The Encore Career Handbook is also a go-to resource for finding your way to an encore career. Of course, if you’re looking for a job, nothing beats LinkedIn. It’s a one-stop-shop for staying in touch with your network, keeping up with industry trends and news, and finding work.”
MF: “Should I look for an encore career in my current field? Or is the purpose of an encore job to break out and experience a new career path?”
MA: “It happens both ways. Often people want to use their deep knowledge and experience to work in a new role in the same field -- like a teacher or school principal who wants to work on education reform or policy. Others want to pursue something completely new, either revisiting an earlier interest or following a new spark. Either way, look for ways to tap into your life and work experience.”
MF: “Is there a typical age when a person starts an encore career?”
MA: “These transitions can happen at any age, but most people start planning for these shifts in their early fifties. I’ve seen people refocus and go down new paths well into their seventies.”
MF: “I see that Encore.org doesn’t have a physical presence in the Dallas/Fort Worth area yet. How could we bring encore opportunities to the DFW area?”
MA: “If these ideas resonate with you, join the Encore.org mailing list on our home page and the Gen2Gen campaign at iamgen2gen.org. You’ll find lots of opportunities to be take action wherever you are and connect with like-minded people. Right now, you can host a watch party for our Movies & Mentors contest, where we are crowdsourcing a list of the 10 best intergenerational mentoring movies of all time. If you’re interested applying for an Encore Fellowship or hiring an Encore Fellow for your nonprofit, visit Encore.org/fellowships.”
For more information about encore.org, visit www.encore.org. For more information about how you can nominate your favorite Gen2Gen mentoring movie and enter to win $500 in movie tickets, visit https://generationtogeneration.org/