As recently as last year, an AARP study found that “nearly 2 in every 3 workers had either seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace.” It’s a sobering statistic; but it doesn’t have to represent everyone’s story.
April is National Encore Entrepreneur Mentor Month, so what better time to consider re-imagining your life and your career by starting your own business? More Americans 50 and older are realizing they have more options than to “hope” they don’t get downsized as their years at a company accrue. We can carve our own paths. The time for career reinvention has come. And while it’s not always easy, the rewards far outweigh the risks. I’m on such a path now.
I recently hit the 50-year milestone. By the time I got here, I had lived a series of career “lives” – first, a cub reporter right out of college, roaming the streets of a small town with pad and pen in hand; later, an editorial writer for a corporate magazine; following that, an account executive for a PR agency.
Somewhere in my 30s, with a master’s degree under my belt, I landed a job teaching a night class for the University of Bridgeport. That first teaching gig began what is now 15 years and counting as a college instructor, teaching courses in business, ethics and writing. But my story doesn’t end there. There was still an entrepreneurial itch waiting to be scratched.
That opportunity came to me courtesy of my students. My years of teaching adults had exposed me to wonderful stories of their search for something more in their mid-life years. They had “put in their time” working at a job to pay the bills, or raising their kids; now it was their time to explore “What’s Next?” That’s why so many of them were signing up to take classes.
But even back in school, many lacked a clear focus. How could they explore a new career without risk? Without years of time and money? An idea began to hatch. Structured internships for adults could open the door to new career choices, before – or instead of – making long term commitments. And for business owners, adult interns could supply an affordable wealth of maturity, dedication and talent.
I created Boomer Den, LLC with both parties in mind. Boomer Den matches motivated adults to businesses that will mentor them in a new field, in exchange for receiving affordable help. I’ve brought parties together in areas such as radio broadcast, interior design, and social media. The possibilities are endless.
While Boomer Den has given me a chance to scratch that entrepreneurial itch, it also allows me to guide boomer adults toward exciting new career choices, and a renewed sense of hope. To me, there’s no greater reward.
To learn more about internship opportunities through Boomer Den, visit www.boomerden.com
Interested in starting your own business? Find expert advice and resources at www.aarp.org/startabusiness.
Check out www.aarp.org/workresources to help you start a business or use your experience to find a job you may like. The site offers expert information to help you update your resumé, expand your network, and enhance your interview skills. AARP’s job search tool, powered by Indeed.com, let’s you search thousands of job listings.
AARP’s Life Reimagined for Work provides career advice, networking opportunities and helps connect job seekers to companies that have signed a pledge stating they value experienced workers and are committed to hiring them.