Make a career pivot that matters

We have spent much of the past two years hearing about the Great Resignation. The forced pandemic experience of staying home has shown many people that they really don’t want to go back to the office.

Then we read about the Quiet Quit (even in this column) – the tendency to stay on the job, but putting on the bare minimum.

In the midst of all this work stoppage talk, an opposing trend has taken hold: the desire to not stop working, or at least postpone retirement for a decade or more. Certainly part of this is due to economic necessity. As research from job site has shown, non-retirees are on the rise, with some former retirees returning to work (but not necessarily back to the office) due to inflation, a falling stock market and the rising cost of health care.

There are also non-financial benefits to continuing to work, such as office camaraderie and a sense of purpose. Many of today’s long-distance workers find they have time to try whole new careers – a second or third career act – including paths that allow them to focus on giving back. .

Just as many career paths today can seem rather winding, so can the different routes people take to get to a meaningful second act. Here are three approaches:

Transition with the help of a scholarship

At 57, Andy Arenberg, head of strategy and marketing, had worked in the financial services industry for 35 years. He wasn’t ready to retire, but he wanted a change. While reading the book The Happiness Curve: Why Life Gets Better After 50, he realized he wanted a role that was clearly focused on good.

He applied for and was awarded an Encore Fellowship in 2019. This one-year, part-time fellowship program helps mid-career professionals make lateral transitions to service-oriented work by placing them within non-profit organizations at their current level. Arenberg’s scholarship was with the California Bay Area organization, SMASH, a three-year college-preparatory program focused on empowering students of color through intensive STEM education.

As he told about the experience, “My most powerful personal moments were due to my closeness to an incredible group of people – a group that I would never have had the chance to meet without the Encore Fellowship program I learned so much from people who had different backgrounds than mine.

After his scholarship, Arenberg became the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Next Generation Scholars, which equips and empowers first-generation and underfunded Marin County middle and high school students to succeed in college and beyond. .

There are all sorts of scholarships for mid-career professionals, as well as those not geared towards this group who might still help steer you towards more goals. CoGenerate (formerly, is a non-profit organization focused on bridging generational divides. It encourages applications for its Encore Ongoing Scholarships. AARP offers links to other scholarships and tips for applying.

Discover a new passion while working

Sometimes you find your second act while working hard on your first, something Jennifer (not her real name) discovered. Jennifer had no plans in mind for a second act. Rather, it grew naturally from the opportunities she had to connect with children in need while traveling to India for her corporate work.

Jennifer worked as a management professional and lived as a perpetual expatriate. During her long and successful career in organizational strategy and change management, she has lived in New York, London, Paris, Hong Kong, Chennai, Abu Dhabi and Mumbai. She has worked for various companies including RR Donnelley, Cisco and ADIA. Midway through her life, she became what she calls “a kind of co-parenting” of 44 girls living in India. It was not planned, but happened naturally.

While in India for work in 2002, she visited the Sharanam Center for Girls, a shelter for formerly homeless, destitute, neglected or abandoned girls in Mumbai’s Dharavi slum. It is the flagship center of the Community Outreach Programme, India, providing a safe and stable home for a few dozen girls.

For the next four or five years, whenever she went to Mumbai for work, she stopped by the shelter to see how the girls were doing and tried to help. It is not always obvious from the outside what exactly to give. There were some missteps, she admitted, “like bringing American school supplies that weren’t useful to their schools, and making it clear that it was better to provide local products, and listening to girls to help with things they needed, like feminine hygiene products.

Jennifer became more and more involved in the shelter and in the lives of its residents. She finally decided to put all her efforts to help these girls. She co-founded the nonprofit Aasha Foundation with her best friend and colleague. Today, twenty years later, she continues to be its director. “The foundation helps fund education, health care, comprehensive enrichment support and professional development,” she said.

Plan your second act before starting your first

Laura Entwistle also launched a selfless second career in India, but unlike Jennifer, she started thinking about her second act before committing to her first. In fact, she used her initial career and her MBA as part of a long-term plan to support her second act.

Entwistle took a job at Hewlett-Packard after finishing college, then completing an MBA. After her master’s degree, she went to work at the Boston Consulting Group in New York, then transferred to the firm’s HK office and worked there for three years.

Entwistle always knew she wanted to give back, and that was further reinforced when she saw that what she loved most were the pro bono opportunities her corporate work offered. Even in business school, she worked alongside Operation Smile and found this work to be the most rewarding part of her week. “Humanitarian work is about connecting with people. That’s really what I like,” she said. “When I was with BCG, my happiest job was pro bono, like when I was able to work with Save the Children. I never intended to be at BCG all my life. I wanted tools to deal with humanitarian issues,” she said.

But humanitarian work is a fairly broad category. What kind of work was she going to do? While in business school, she did a summer project on how to raise capital to fund humanitarian work, which she found interesting, but a bit too far removed from the client relationships that fueled her passion for the sector.

After a few years in Hong Kong with BCG, Entwistle and her husband started a family. She quit the corporate world and moved to India with her young family. There, she volunteered to do pro bono consulting with two organizations working to end commercial sexual exploitation (CSE). “Young girls have been manipulated and forced to work in the sex trade in brutal and inhumane conditions. Very few have been rescued, but when they have been, they have too often ended up in the sex trade. “

Entwistle’s consulting skills came in handy as she sought to advise new clients. Rapid benchmarking work showed the transformative impact of mental health support for girls rescued from CSE. “If you rescue someone from a highly traumatic situation, give them a new place to live and even a new job, but don’t address their core vulnerabilities, they tend to be revictimized at an alarming rate (about 80 %).”

When social-emotional healing was provided as part of their rehabilitation, however, the numbers turned – 80% of girls stayed out of the sex trade and went on to healthier lives in which they were not exploited . But mental health care was not really available for this population in India. It was an ah-ha moment for Entwistle. “I realized there was a big hole.”

Originally, her idea was to convince an NGO she knew to expand into India and fill that void, but it didn’t work out. So in 2014, she founded EmancipAction, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing mental health care solutions to some of the world’s most vulnerable children. EmancipAction builds a community of caregivers by training lay people to provide social-emotional healing care to children in residential care.

Now, eight years later, she says, it has been a deeply humbling yet rewarding journey. “Act 1 gave me incredibly useful skills for Act 2, such as problem solving, strategic thinking, fundraising, management, communication, etc. ‘Success.’ Those who have done this for a while know that there are no quick wins or easy fixes in humanitarian work.

Whatever path you take to find a role where you can give back, it’s worth noting Laura

Entwistle’s last comment on his second act. “It’s messy and difficult and often frustrating in ways you don’t expect. But it can also be beautiful, and ultimately build the systems and relationships that make us all involved stronger, more resilient, and a little more connected. And whether we “change the world” or not, that may be success enough! »

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