Executing a Second Act Career Pivot
by Lisa J. Gotto
September 4, 2020
There was a commercial in pretty rigorous rotation recently for a financial firm that portrayed the path of a woman from her first office job to what looked like her career-ending retirement party from her law firm.
Many women could probably easily identify with the first aspect of the commercial—how it seems like yesterday that we started that first “real job," fresh out of college or grad school perhaps—and hopefully we will also someday identify with the aspect of retiring from a job or career we are passionate about. In other words, hopefully when retirement time comes, it’s our choice, and not one that is made for us.
While achieving that gold standard, perfect-world scenario may not be as predictable as it once was, there are plenty of things we can do now to address career insecurity, find a new job at midlife or create a purpose-rich retirement.
Considering a career pivot?
Who hasn’t felt unsure about their career at one point or another? Career jitters at mid-life are nothing new for women, but right now they are more palpable with a pandemic thrown into the mix. If this time of transition has you considering a career pivot, either out of necessity or desire, realizing there is more that you can control about your situation is key.
Fortunately, defining and executing a second act career is becoming increasingly desirable with life spans lengthening and quality of life issues taking a front seat on our journeys. Many of these second careers purposefully diverge from the individual’s original career path. While others are chosen specifically to provide tangible rewards, such as an enhanced feeling of financial security.
Traditionally, solid paths for women seeking second careers included education, local and state government, healthcare, and nursing. While there is hope that we will recover most of these jobs post-pandemic, second act seekers need not confine themselves solely to these conventional roles.
No fear, (or excuses) here!
Okay, so starting something entirely new for anyone at any age can be daunting where a learning curve is concerned. However, you may be better equipped to take on a new field than you think. Factoring in your transferable skills and highlighting how they will benefit a new employer is one strategy that we can adopt to make securing a new position more feasible. And what we don’t already know is ours for the learning.
In fact, one of the most positive aspects of envisioning a second act is that there is literally a world of online classes available to help get you there whether you want to go in a totally new direction, or augment your ‘forever employable’ status. And cost does not need to be a roadblock either. Some sites such as alison.com’s ‘Empower Yourself’ platform offer free training and career enhancement courses. Others like udemy.com offer class packages in everything from investment banking to cloud guru certification for very reasonable rates.
MOOC.org, or Massive Open Online Courses (a division of EdX) offers a wealth of free online courses, as well as fully-accredited degree programs for purchase. Thinking of accomplishing your long-standing MBA goal, or finally becoming fluent in that second language? EdX offers Harvard and MIT-associated programs.
Many online learning platforms offer the added advantage of connected communities within them where you can network and relationship-build with others in your specific area of interest. These opportunities may have value in developing future career paths.
If you have an account and some funds to put toward your life-long learning goals, LinkedIn’s Premium platform also offers courses to enhance careers in leadership and management, software development and the super-hot field of data science, among others.
Taking advantage of any of the free courses related to your current job or new path can provide a nice kick-start in the right direction. Keep in mind what the benefits of “Life-Long Learner” status can provide!
And there’s no better time to get started preparing for unpredictable tomorrows than today, and doing so is the most positive step you can take to alleviate any career anxiety you may be experiencing. Fortunately, there are many tools out there to help you and we will continue to explore them in the coming weeks.
Perhaps for now, it would serve us best to recall what Tolstoy penned about time in War & Peace, “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.”
While it is true that you will need to summon both in order to embark on your second act journey, you will be all the more empowered for honoring them.
Check back for Part 2 of our Second-Act Career Pivots feature on September 25th, where we’ll cover the reality of ageism in the workplace and how women’s networks can play a supportive role in your future career success.