College Degree After 50 – Worth It?

College Degree After 50

College Degree After 50Is attaining a college degree after 50 years of age worth the effort and expense?

There is a lot of conversation about whether higher education is worth the money.

Robert Reich recently wrote a piece for Salon.com titled:

Robert Reich: College gets you nowhere

The Author writes:

This is the time of year when high school seniors apply to college, and when I get lots of mail about whether college is worth the cost.

The answer is unequivocally yes, but with one big qualification.

A college degree no longer guarantees a good job. The main reason it pays better than the job of someone without a degree is the latter’s wages are dropping.

If this applies to a high school senior what about a 50+ year old who has seen their industry or profession disappear?

It all comes down to what you expect to gain from attaining the degree.

Preservation or Reinvention

Are you trying to preserve or re-invent your career?

I have heard of many going back to school and getting a masters degree in their chosen profession. As long as their current employer supports and/or funds the degree program, it proves to be successful. A good example is getting a Masters in Education, for those in the K-12 education field.

It is used to be that attaining an MBA was a sure fire way to spark your career. I am not sure that is true anymore. Especially, if you are going to invest $100K of your own money. I have one client who received her MBA from a prestigious executive MBA program, and it has done nothing for her. Of course, she received it during the great recession.

In my research for writing this post, I have found nothing that says getting an MBA after 50 makes sense financially.

If you think differently, please comment below.

If you are reinventing your career, my experience is that getting a bachelors or masters degree after 50 is not a good investment, especially, if you are taking out student loans!

I have talked to dozens of individuals over the last couple of years who obtained their college degree after 50. Almost all of them told me it did not give them the competitive edge they needed.

If you are entering a new field after 50 years of age, you will be competing with others much younger than you. The same issues of age discrimination that you found in your old field will likely apply in the new one.

My conclusion is that getting a college degree after 50 works for preserving your career.

It does not make sense most of the time getting a college degree after 50 works to reinvent your career.

Either way, you must do your research. Find others who have successfully forged the trail before you embark on getting your college degree after 50.

Certificate Programs

Certificate programs offered at many community colleges are much less expensive and time consuming.  For example, Austin Community College offers certificate programs in non-profit management. If want to make the leap from for profit to non-profit, this a cost effective means of gaining skills and will give you some street cred in your new field.

I recently talked with Christine Jensen, who I found through her article on PBS NextAvenue website called RIF’d at 59: The Lessons She Learned.

Christine is now a freelance writer. She is considering going to her local community college for a photography certificate. It is affordable and she can pick and choose what to take. She may not even pursue a certificate if she obtains the skills she needs without completing the program.

It all comes down to — do your research!

Have you pursued your college degree after 50? Was it worth it?

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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3rd Anniversary of Career Pivot

3rd Anniversary of Career Pivot

3rd AnniversaryFebruary marks the 3rd anniversary of Career Pivot, which is dedicated to helping baby boomers and others make career transitions.

The Career Pivot website now attracts over 15,000 visitors a month. I wanted to chronicle some of the history behind Career Pivot.

In the Beginning

I was deep in developing curriculum for designing routers and switches using network processors in 2002. The dot com bust was in full bloom. I was traveling back and forth to Asia to train major networking equipment companies. It was then that my world was turned upside down.

On July 11th of 2002, I was riding my bike alongside a local bicycle club. I came down a hill and slammed head-on into a Toyota Corolla. I spent five days in the trauma center, broke a lot of bones, and dislocated a shoulder, but had no internal or brain injuries—that I am willing to admit to! You can read a lot more about his here.

Following Your Passion

In 2003, I decided to volunteer for a layoff and pursue my Texas High School Math teaching certificate. I have a lot of funny stories from this experience.

I taught Algebra I and II for two years in a inner city high school in Austin. Although I felt extremely successful, no one in the administration noticed. After two years, I was exhausted and needed to leave for my own preservation.

Following your passion is not enough.

Launch Pad Job Club

After leaving teaching, I was lost. I did a short contract for the State of Texas as a trainer for a failing project. NOT FUN!

I found myself in a Launch Pad Job Club meeting in April or May of 2006. I saw many others who had been spit out of large technology companies and found themselves…lost. Despite how I felt, I was determined not to return to the world of high tech. I joined the board of directors of Launch Pad later that year.

I pivoted into the non-profit world for a year, only to learn I could not deal with the dysfunctional nature of the industry.

The Great Recession

I was found by a another tech startup in late 2007. What I did not know at the time (and neither did most of you) was that the great recession was just around the corner.

In 2009, the concept of Career Pivot was born. I looked around and found few were addressing the upcoming plight of the baby boomer generation. Every few months, I would attend a Launch Pad meeting—and they were huge!

I left high tech for the second time in 2011 after my boss put me in a highly unethical position.

In 2011, I hired a college intern to do some research on the plight of baby boomers. The numbers he came back with were not just bad, they were awful!

Career Pivot Launch in 2012

The Career Pivot brand and website were launched in February 2012.

Repurpose Your Career – A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers was published in January 2013 and has now sold over 1,200 copies worldwide.

Career Pivot made the Forbes Top 100 Career Website list in September of 2013. Career Pivot has been featured on multiple lists since.

What is very disappointing is that very few other websites have followed. I created my own list this year but….

I am now celebrating the 3rd anniversary of Career Pivot.

What has changed?

  • I see a lot of older Gen Xers with the same issues
  • The economy has improved, but not enough to make a significant difference in most of your lives

What has not changed?

  • Age discrimination is alive and well
  • Retirement is still not attainable for most baby boomers

What has changed for you? What change would you like to see?

Leave a comment below

The momentum for Career Pivot continues to build in 2015.

Thank you for all of your support!

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Baby Boomer Walkabout – A Moment of Clarity

Baby Boomer Walkabout

walkaboutWikipedia defines a walkabout as the following:

Walkabout refers to a rite of passage during which male Australian Aborigines would undergo a journey during adolescence and live in the wilderness for a period as long as six months.

I have a client who just completed a baby boomer walkabout.

Bill (not his real name) was laid off from his job in the fall of 2014. It came as a complete surprise to him. Bill is in his late 50s and has always worried about money. He has been fanatical about saving his money for retirement.

One Month Walkabout

Bill decided to wait until the next year to start his job search. He also decided to buy a Rail Pass and travel the US for an entire month. What he did not realize was that this would turn out to be a baby boomer walkabout.

He spent the month sleeping on friends’ couches, park benches (illegally), in a rental car, and other odd places. He spent a lot of time by himself.

He met many people who were living a very minimalist lifestyle. What he noticed about them was that they were happy!

He spent a month in utter simplicity. He found that all he needed was healthy food, a place to sleep, a place to exercise, and good coffee.

His walkabout was a true moment of clarity!

My Walkabout 35 Years Ago

In 1980, I was working for IBM…and was very unhappy. I decided to take my own walkabout! I had two weeks vacation, and asked for 12 more weeks off without pay.

The reaction from management was, “You want what?”

My request was turned down.

My boss did some research and discovered he could give me two weeks off without pay without needing to get approval from upper level management.

He granted my request, and I spent four weeks hiking through Colorado, Utah and Arizona. The last excursion of the trip was to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and camp.

It took two weeks into the trip to wind down and relax. By the third week, I did not know what day of the week it was, and didn’t care. I spent most of the month by myself. I met a lot of fascinating people.

When I got back, I was a changed person: I now saw life through a different, relaxed lens. Like Bill, I realized I needed very little to make me happy.

One week after my return, I met my lovely wife. Hmm…I’m sure this was no coincidence!

I considered selling all of my worldly possessions and joining the Peace Corps.

Did I? NO!

I went back to work, got married, had a child…but I did know myself a whole lot better. I still believe I missed a valuable opportunity. I had my moment of clarity but I let it pass!

Bill and His Walkabout

Before Bill’s trip, I sent him a link to an article in the Huffington Post about Tim and Lynne Martin called, “How We Downsized 2,000 Sq. Ft. Into Two Rolling Duffles To See The World.” Tim and Lynne sold all of their possessions and traveled the world. They chronicled their adventures on their Home Free Adventures website.

Bill has since returned home and is interviewing for a new job, however, with a very different perspective on life. He is thinking of selling his big house, disposing of many material possessions, and following a similar path of Tim and Lynne Martin.

Bill has a level of contentment and peace that he has rarely experienced in his life. His walkabout experience was truly life changing—but now what?

Bill is giving himself two years to prepare AND two years to negotiate with his spouse on what is next.

Have you taken a walkabout? If you did, what did you learn? What did you change?

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

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You can also download my whitepaperDon’t Retire Even If you Can and What to do Instead – A Baby Boomer Manifesto

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

8 Best Baby Boomer Career Websites

Best Baby Boomer Career Websites

Career WebsitesGood career websites that focus on baby boomers are few and far between. Recently, Hannah Morgan, The Career Sherpa, published her list of the Best Job Search Websites 2015.

Of course, Career Pivot made the list in the over 50 category. There was only one other website in that category, Kerry Hannon’s website. Kerry regularly writes for Forbes, AARP, and PBS Next Avenue.

When Career Pivot made the Forbes 2013 Top Career Website list, I wrote a post where I dissected the list, and was very disappointed—there were only three career websites that focused on baby boomers.

career websites

Last week, Career Pivot also made the list of Top 100 Software Developer Blogs for 2015.

Let me give you my top 8 baby boomer career website list!

Top 8 Baby Boomer Career Websites

1 – Career Pivot

Okay, I am being self serving, but Career Pivot is the only website that has made just about every list.

2 – Next Avenue

NextAvenue.org is owned by PBS. This website was launched in 2012 to serve the baby boomer community exclusively. It focuses on many issues that baby boomers are facing, not just career-related.

3 – Life Reimagined

Life Reimagined was launched by AARP starting in 2012 and relaunched in 2014. AARP is very late to the career market, but is making a good effort to address the needs of the baby boomer community.

4 – Kerry Hannon

KerryHannon.com is a place where you will find all of Kerry’s materials. Kerry writes for Forbes, AARP, and PBS Next Avenue. You might say that Kerry is a pioneer in this field.

 5 – My Lifestyle Career

MyLifeStyleCareer.com is a creation of Nancy Collamer. Nancy is the author of Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit from Your Passions During Semi-Retirement. What I love about Nancy’s book is that it lays your possibilities out in bite size chunks that are easily digestible. Her blog is full of great ideas.

6 – Encore.org

Encore.org was created prior to the onset of the Great Recession. Their mission statement says it all:

Encore.org is building a movement to tap the skills and experience of those in midlife and beyond to improve communities and the world.

7 – 40PlusCareerGuru

40PlusCareerGuru.blogspot.com is the creation of my dear friend Neil Patrick. Neil is like most of you. He was part of a redundancy (he is from the UK, so I need to use the funny language they use), and now works for himself. Neil started his blog in order to brand himself, and he has done a fabulous job.

8 – John Tarnoff – Boomer Reinvention

 JohnTarnoff.com is the creation of John Tarnoff! Specifically, you will want to check out John’s blog.

A career development coach, speaker, university educator and former media/entertainment executive, John Tarnoff focuses on personal and professional transformation across generations – reintegrating the Boomer Generation workforce into the rapidly evolving 21st century workplace, and developing programs, opportunities and curriculum to support new generations of leaders and entrepreneurs.

Why not the top 10?

My intention was to give you a top 10 list, but I could not find 10 well established websites!

Let me point to two other websites that are either new or under new ownership

ItsAllAboutMe.Today – Midlife Enpowerment

ItsAllAboutMe.Today – This is a brand new website that was developed by another friend Hugh Taylor. Check it out.

Boomers Next Step

BoomersNextStep.com – Jenni Proctor bought this domain and has re-launched it. Check it out.

Am I missing something? If so, comment below and tell me about any other Baby Boomer Career Websites you think are valuable.

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

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You can also download my latest white paperThe Multi-Generational WorkplaceMaking Generational Diversity Work

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

Changing Industries to Smart Grid

Changing Industries to Smart Grid

changing industriesMany of you have expressed an interest to follow your passion and change industries. This post is about the story of Daniel Elizalde. Daniel has never been a client of mine, but he has followed many of my methods.

About ten years ago, Daniel realized he wanted to be in cleantech. He believed it was one of the biggest challenges of this century, and he wanted to be part of it!

As with most of us, he did not do much about it for five years. It wasn’t until his product manager job at VI Technologies was coming to an end that he started to pursue his dream.

However, he had a problem. He applied to a couple of companies, and he did not get a job. He was not clear what he wanted or how his skills applied.

Key Point – When changing industries, you have to be able to clearly map your current skills to the new industry. This has to be abundantly clear to get anyone in order for you to be taken seriously.

What is Cleantech?

Cleantech is one of nebulous umbrella terms that relates to many technologies. He had to start by learning what cleantech encompasses before he could focus on companies or roles to target. Was it wind, solar, smart grid, fuel cells, electric vehicles, batteries, or something else that he should focus on?

Daniel did a lot of research online. He also started to network more, and found a number of local groups to join. He was out asking for AIR (Advice, Insights and Recommendations). The magic  is he asked for advice.

Niche Area

When changing industries, you really need to niche yourself. Find the area within an industry where your skills map the best. Daniel is a Software Product Manager. He learned that Smart Grid was the area of cleantech that could leverage his skills the best.

Daniel got very specific on the niche he would pursue.

He continued to research the area with a passion. He read everything he could get his hands on and talked to anyone he could, asking for AIR.

As he talked to companies, he realized his skills were not an exact fit. By asking for AIR, he discovered that some of the main trends in Smart Grid are UX and Cloud, were he fit the best (again,  moving down into a smaller niche).

He also learned that energy companies usually require domain knowledge, which he didn’t have.

As I wrote in my previous post on changing industries, most companies are looking for the purple cow (the perfect job applicant), and want you to have ideal business AND domain skills.

Key Point – You need to ask for a lot of AIR (Advice, Insights and Recommendations).

Domain Skills

Daniel then made a career pivot. He first took a job in the UX arena and then took another job in the Software As A Service(SaaS), or Cloud industry. He gained experience in both areas. Taking these jobs was part of the plan to get the skills that Daniel needed to join the energy industry. They were great jobs, but he approached them as stepping-stones towards his dream job.

Now he needed some Smart Grid experience. This is where Daniel did something that was brilliant.

Daniel started interviewing key Smart Grid thought leaders and other key professionals with great industry connections on his blog TechProductManagement.com. During the interviews, he focused on the skills that he had and the problem he could solve for them, as opposed to his lack of domain knowledge in the energy industry. This was key.

Through the blog, he met many of the key players and became a known player.

Key Point – Through his blog, Daniel demonstrated enough expertise in the new domain world and in Product Management as a whole, that people started talking with him.

Location

All of the companies that Daniel was interested in working for were in California. Daniel lived in Austin, Texas. He could get interviews but they went nowhere.

He finally decided to move to the San Francisco bay area.  In preparation for his move, he made a couple of trips to San Francisco to network and ask for AIR in person. Once companies knew he was serious about moving, they started taking him seriously. Within a month of his move, he was hired.

Daniel ElizaldeDaniel is now a Senior Product Manager for Stem Inc.

Daniel will tell you that changing industries was a marathon and not a sprint. Daniel showed an amazing amount of determination and stamina.

What about you?

Have you changed industries? Tell us your story!

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Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

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You can also download my personal branding white paper – Personal Branding for Baby Boomers – What It Is, How to Manage It, and Why It’s No Longer Optional!

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

How Do I Know That You Know Your Stuff?

Know Your Stuff

know your stuffHow do others know that you know your stuff?

Where are the proof points?

Where do you keep examples of your work?

It is no longer acceptable to tell prospective employers that you accomplished X or Y—you need to demonstrate it.

Building a Portfolio

I used to think that having a portfolio of your work was for creatives. When I taught High School math, the school system encouraged us build a portfolio of lesson plans and teaching aides that we had developed. Portfolios are not just for creatives anymore.

Rich Media

You can now connect your LinkedIn profile to anything on the Internet. You can place rich media links in your LinkedIn Summary section and within each position in your LinkedIn Experience section. You can link to YouTube videos, presentations on Slideshare, articles you’ve written or been quoted in, or anything that demonstrates that you know your stuff.

You can also upload files to your LinkedIn profile. These could be PDFs, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, or anything the demonstrates that you know your stuff.

What if your work is proprietary in nature, or you do not own the material? Having worked for two tech startups, I have seen that first hand.

You need to get a little creative.

Create a Blog or Website

Create your own repository for material that demonstrates that you know your stuff. A great example of this is . I will be writing about Daniel’s pursuit of changing industries as a product manager in the coming month. Daniel needed to demonstrate his expertise as a technical product manager. He created his blog called TechnicalProductManagement.com, and he went about interviewing thought leaders in his new industry (Clean Tech). He built a repository of information that demonstrated that he had enough expertise in his new industry to be considered for a position. More on this in a few weeks.

Daniel’s blog is a classic example of creating a portfolio. He published on a regular schedule, once a month, and over time it became quite apparent that he knew what he was talking about!

LinkedIn Publisher

LinkedIn Publisher is LinkedIn’s publishing platform. It is rapidly becoming a game changer.

This is a free service that allows you publish your own articles. They will appear in your LinkedIn profile. It is a professional, simple, and low cost way of demonstrating that you know your stuff.

It is very likely you have read one of these LinkedIn Publisher posts:

Each of these posts can be found on my LinkedIn profile.

Take Action

Building an online portfolio of work products is the best way to demonstrate that you know your stuff!

What is the best way for you to demonstrate that you know your stuff?

This will not happen overnight. Be persistent and the fruits of your labor will pay off.

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

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You can also download my latest white paperThe Multi-Generational WorkplaceMaking Generational Diversity Work

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

The Illusion of Job Security

The Illusion of Job Security

job securityJob security was something I was raised to attain.

I was raised to be an employee to work for a father-like company that would take care of me.  After 30 or 40 years there,  I would retire and ride off into the sunset.

Job security is something that used to just happen. Now, it is something many of you pursue. The reality is that the concept of job security is just an illusion.

Let me tell you about …

I started to work with Susan a couple of years ago. The company she was working for was coming apart. The owners of the business were feuding. She had reached a point in her life that she wanted stability and some real guarantees. She wanted to work for someone who offered a pension.

Sounds like a Leave to Beaver episode from the 1960s.

She decided to pursue a position at a large state university. She followed my targeted job search strategy. After an 18 month search, she landed her dream job. I even wrote about Susan’s job search in a case study.

She landed a position that would be stable. She landed a position with a pension. She thought she finally had job security!

But it was all an illusion.

First Month

After the first month of her new job had past, Susan was really questioning whether she could do the job. The pace of work was fast, and there were job requirements that were not discussed during the interview process. Susan did not have the technical skills required.

Three Month Review

Susan received her three month review and no concerns were raised. Susan was drinking from a firehose. She assumed that she would just have to keep working hard and things would get easier.

They did not!

Six Month Review

Susan went to her boss’ office where she was informed that she was to be let go. Her boss told her that they saw that she was not able to keep up AND that the workload was going to increase. Her boss was willing to write a letter of recommendation.

Susan was the not the first, but the second, casualty from this position. The previous person they hired was let go as well.

Walking Out

As Susan walked to her car with her personal belongings, a sense of relief came over her. She had been stressed for months trying to do the job.

She also realized that the job security she thought she had was all an illusion.

From the beginning, she was set up to fail, just as the previous hire had been.

Job Security

Susan has learned an invaluable lesson. There is no job security—it is all an illusion. You always have to be prepared with a plan to move on. You should always have a Plan B.

Susan is preparing for another career pivot with a new realization that there is no job security.

Has this happened to you?

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

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You can also download my whitepaper “Don’t Retire Even If you Can and What to do Instead – A Baby Boomer Manifesto

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

 

Our Perceptions of Ourselves and Others and Their Impact

Our Perceptions

PerceptionsOur perceptions of who we are is our reality!

Our perceptions of others is our reality!

That is some pretty heady stuff.

What about others’ perceptions?

How others perceive you is their reality.

Do you know how others perceive you?

If you think you know how others perceive you, where do you derive that from? Did you ask them?

When our perception of ourselves is different from others’ perception of us, we run into problems at work. More than likely, it will cause us stress.

Roger Birkman and Perceptions

I just returned from attending the Birkman Next Generation Conference in Sugarland Texas. The conference was attended by hundreds of Birkman consultants who use the Birkman Assessment to help individuals and companies reach peak performance. This was the first conference not attended by Dr. Roger Birkman, who passed away at the age of 95 earlier this year.

Dr. Roger Birkman, a World War II pilot, was fascinated by the impact that perceptions had on pilot and crew performance. Dr. Birkman went on to study psychology at the war and later developed the Birkman Assessment.

The Birkman Method, as it is formally known, is a personality, social perception, and occupational interest assessment used to identify behavioral strengths, motivational needs, stress behavior, and occupational interests.

I have been using the Birkman Assessment for three years on hundreds of clients. I am still fascinated at what it reveals and how there can be major disconnects between our perceptions of ourselves with others perceive of us.

Examples

I am currently working with a gentleman who you could describe as an introvert. In the Birkman Method, he is referred to as low acceptance. He likes working by himself or with a small group of close colleagues. Many would assume he would want to work from home.

Does he want to work from home? NO! In fact, %^$& NO!

He very much needs to be around people. He does not necessarily want to interact on work projects with others, but he needs to be around people. You would never know this unless you talked with him about his need.

The world of coworking spaces has arisen just for these kinds of people.

I have written before about my client that I refer to as a Structured Anarchist.

Bob appears as a very orderly person. He loves rules and structure, or at least that is how he appears. In the Birkman Method, he is referred to as High Structure.

What Bob really loves is creating rules and structure. By the way, he is phenomenally good at creating systems. He just does not want any rules or structure placed on him when creating these systems.

Others’ perceptions of Bob did not align with Bob’s own perception of himself. He kept being placed in very orderly roles, but what he really wanted was to be placed in total and complete chaos where he could create order.

It was not until we worked through the Birkman Assessment that we identified this disconnect and he could articulate this strength. He no longer waits to be placed into a role, but he actively seeks out opportunities where he gets to create order out of chaos.

If you would like to learn more about Birkman Assessment, watch this excellent video below!

I came back from the Birkman conference charged up and wanted to share this video with you.

Do you see the impact that perceptions have on the workplace?

Feel free to reach out to me through my contact form if you want to discuss the Birkman Assessment any further.

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

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Childhood Dream of Driving Trains Comes True – Case Study

Childhood Dream of Driving Trains

Childhood Dream

Click to Enlarge

We all remember growing up with our childhood dreams. Maybe it was to be a policeman or fireman or cowboy. For most of us, we let each childhood dream fade away. We went about our lives growing up, getting an education, getting married, having kids, and pursuing a career that put food on the table and paid the mortgage.

Sound familiar?

Let me tell you the story of Mike Martin.

Mike was born in the mid 1950s and grew up in New York State. He will tell you he liked anything with wings, wheels, or keels. He was fascinated by anything that moved.

After graduating from high school, he attended SUNY Farmington where he received an Associates Degree in Aerospace Technology. He then moved to Texas and started rebuilding airplane engines. When that company went bankrupt, he ended up working in machine shops. That was okay, but that was not going to get him ahead in his career.

At the time, people told him that he was a really good with people and should go into sales. Mike said okay!

Sound familiar? He did not follow his passion. He did what many of us do in that position—he did what he was told to do.

He spent the next 20 years as an outside sales guy…driving a truck and selling various maintenance supplies like cables and wiring. He liked being out and about. As years passed, margins on his commissions got leaner and leaner. It became very hard to make money.

Sound familiar? Many of us have seen our chosen profession whither in the new economy.

Now in his early fifties, he returned to college to get a Bachelors Degree in Pilot Science. Over the years, he had achieved his pilot’s certification and loved to fly planes. Remember that, as a kid, he loved anything that had wings, wheels or keels.

After graduating, he worked at an executive airport for awhile but found the work environment less than inviting. So what did he do? He returned to sales!

Sound familiar? When things do not initially work out, many of us revert back to what we know.

He looked at becoming a school teacher. That was a tough transition.

That is when Mike found Career Pivot.

Birkman Assessment

He took the Birkman Assessment and it told him the following:

  • His core interest is music. As most of you know, it is tough to make a buck in the music industry.
  • He was well-suited to piloting, driving, operating, or navigating transport vehicles or material moving machinery (e.g., aircraft, automobiles, water vessels, construction cranes, locomotives, tractors)

Sound familiar? It was his childhood dream!

We talked about what motivated him. We talked about what made him happy.

He had to be playing music and he got to do that through his church. He now realized how important it was to him. Now he just needed to get to driving something, being outdoors, and helping people.

Following His Dream

Mike looked at the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) but they had no positions.

He then looked at Houston Metro Rail and saw that they were expanding. He applied to be a Light Rail Vehicle Operator.

They replied back and asked him to take an assessment. He passed. He did not think they would want him.

They asked him to come in for an interview. He studied up for the interview by reading an article on how a gentleman had become a driver for the London Underground. He prepared cards with all of the questions he thought they would ask him and studied those cards right before the interview.

It was a panel interview where they asked him to open and close a special drivers seat. The secret was there was a special pin that had to be removed to get the seat to close. He did it flawlessly. In fact it was fun. They were watching to see if he would get frustrated.

After the interview, they took him out into the rail yard to see if he could physically do the job; throwing some switches, climbing in and out of the train, and walking the yard.

This is when Mike started to get excited. This was his childhood dream. He was going to get to drive a train.

Several weeks later, he was told to report for a 10-week training program. Mike moved his RV to Houston and started the class. He was being careful. He did not want to rent a place if he did not make it through the training.

He made it with flying colors!

Mike drove trains for a few months, but was moved to the team testing the new red line. He gets to spot problems and propose solutions.

The money is decent. With overtime, he does okay. More importantly, he loves what he is doing! His family is still in Austin and he goes home on the weekends.

He wants to move up to be a supervisor and a trainer. He sees himself working there for as long as he wants.

This was all triggered by a simple assessment pointing him back to his childhood dream.

His childhood dream came true in his 50s.

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Are You Defined by Your Job?

Defined by Your Job?

definedFor many of us, our own self image is defined by our jobs. When someone loses their job, they may feel they no longer have value or purpose.

This topic was brought about by Dustin McKissen, who wrote a post called If You Lose Your Job, Remember This. Dustin wrote about his father after losing his job:

My dad is also good at more than just building things—he is a good guy, with a good heart, and people love him. I love him. He is a great Grandpa.

But when he lost his job, he lost part of himself.

When you feel like you’ve lost a part of yourself, the search to find that missing piece can take you to some very dark places. It did for my dad, and much of the last 15 years have been hard on him, and the people that care about him.

My Own Father

My father was an economist for the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). In 1978, my father was handed a retirement package and was asked to leave. He was in his late 50s and was not ready to retire. Financially, my father and mother were fine. The retirement package kept my mother living well into her 80s.

However, the retirement package killed my father. It took another 15 years, but it killed him.  His entire self image was defined by his job. Dad had twice pursued a PhD in economics, but each time a child came along, he put it aside. When he pursued University teaching positions, he was always turned down. He did not have the paper credentials.

He eventually landed a teaching position at York College, but by that time, he was pretty beat up. His mental health declined and that is what eventually killed him. He was defined by his job.

IBM Meltdown

During the holiday season of 1992, I ruptured the L4/L5 disc in my back. I decided to take three months of disability and let my back heal rather than be operated on. I do not like doctors with sharp implements.

While I was gone, IBM nearly went bankrupt. IBM discontinued the famous full employment pledge. Thousands of employees were given generous retirement packages to leave. Just like my father, who would pass away a few months later, this was a death sentence for many. They viewed themselves as IBMers. It was who they were.

When I returned to work in early April of 1993, I was clear. I had had a moment of clarity while I was out on disability. I saw what was important to me and it was not my job. I was not defined by my job.

My definition of myself was further reenforced by what I saw when I returned to IBM.

How We Forget!

Fast forward a few years later. I left IBM on my terms in January of 2000. I went to work for a successful high-tech startup, Agere, which was acquired by Lucent. Then, in July of 2002 I had another moment of clarity: I had a near fatal bicycle accident.  I had a head on collision with a Toyota Corolla, where our combined speeds exceeded 50 miles per hour. By the way, I lived!

The following year, I pursued getting my Texas High School Math teaching certificate. I taught high school math at an inner city school for almost two years. I was very successful. It tore me up emotionally and physically.

When I left teaching, I was lost. I wrote a post on this called Dealing with that Directionless Feeling, which is found daily on Google search.

Ten years earlier, I became determined not to be defined by my job, but I was struggling…just like my father! The difference now was I wanted to be defined by my life purpose and not my job.

Job Club

I have served on the board of directors of Launch Pad Job Club since 2006. I have seen many who have been laid off who struggle with the lose of self image. Whether the job loss was involuntary like my father and fellow IBMers or voluntary like my departure from teaching. It still stinks!

I have to go back to the time when I returned to IBM and remind myself it is my choice on how I define myself.

I am not defined by my job! I desire to be defined by my life’s purpose!

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Subscribe

When you subscribe to this blog you get full access to Career Pivot’s Whitepaper Library

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Check out my book which is available on Amazon.com!

Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

————————————————

You can also download my latest white paperStrategic Networking – A Career Pivot White Paper

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group