What if you have spent many years of your working life on a single career path, until retirement, layoffs, or just a sense that it’s time to move on means it’s time to think about what to do next? The Seniors Job Bank provides a wide variety of job opportunities, most of which are part-time, or that allow for a flexible schedule. It’s a good place to start exploring new opportunities that you may never have had time to pursue in a previous career, or to discover a welcome change of pace.
“I don’t call it retirement,” says Allan Polak. “It’s my next chapter.” After a career as an organizational psychologist working in the financial services sector for companies like Aetna, The Hartford, and Paine Webber, Alan was ready for a change.
He first completed the CT Master Gardening Program and now, through the Job Bank, provides a variety of gardening services, from routine maintenance, to weeding, soil analysis, and garden design, as well as “helping people identify what’s a weed and what isn’t.”
“I work for some women in their eighties who can no longer care for their gardens, but who are excellent gardeners. I’ve learned a lot from them as well.”
In addition to gardening, he also works as an assistant coach in tennis and baseball at Hall High. “I get to play ball after school and when I come home, I have no homework,” he laughs. There is also time to spend with his grandchild and his recently adopted rescue puppy. Allan says of his life since 2016,” I wake up in the morning and get to be me.”
Sometimes the motivation for change is a quest for variety, both in terms of work and schedule. Bob Anderson worked for Met Life in sales for 27 years. When he decided to move on, for awhile he drove a school bus, and a truck. “I was looking for more control of my time and my income,” he says, explaining how he came to work as a handyman. “I can pick and choose the jobs I want to do. And I like the variety—not like nine to five behind a desk,” he says.
He does simple plumbing and electrical work, and odd jobs, but there are always surprises. “You learn something new every day.”
Change is not always welcome, but it can open the door to new interests. After sixty years in the computer field, the last twenty-four of which were spent as an independent consultant to a real estate company creating individualized programming, Martha Reingold found herself reassessing at the age of 79. “If I’m not working, I feel—just not good,” she says. She had always been interested in writing— “You collect a lot of stories if you live long enough”—and decided to try writing one. She found she had a talent, and a new work direction.
That story led to others, and she self-published her first book on Amazon at age 81. She then took an intro to creative writing course at UCONN “and learned more in thirteen weeks then I had writing nonstop for a few years.”
Unhappy with the self-publishing experience at Amazon, she is now in the process of establishing Reingold Books LLC with two other women. One is an artist who will do illustrations, and the other will specialize in non-fiction, while Martha will handle the fiction. The company aims to make the self-publishing process more straightforward as well as more lucrative for the writers.
Meanwhile, Martha has several writing projects of her own in the works: two short story collections and an oral history of the early years of computers, to name a few. In addition, she is planning to publish anthologies—the first one will be on the theme of pandemics—that will allow the work of several writers to break into print.
Sometimes a new career chapter utilizes the skills you may have used in a previous job, but in a new way. Marci Alter moved to the Hartford area in 1990 and worked at The Hartford before the birth of her children and returned on a part time basis when they went to school. Specializing in actuarial and pension benefits work, she enjoyed her job until she was laid off. Instead of rushing into a job search, she took some time to find out what she really liked. Organization was the answer.
At first, she experimented with personal organization for friends. She enjoyed that, but still hadn’t found the perfect job. Then Sheila Diamond of the SJB suggested she might be interested in a part time position as the office administrator for a local philanthropist.
For this math major who actually enjoys balancing her checkbook, the job, which has a variety of responsibilities, included organizing and streamlining office tasks, was a perfect fit.
Stepping back from a full time, stressful career can be a great chance to enjoy some different kinds of work that might not have been practical at a younger age. Preston Ruddell began his law career in South Dakota, working as a Legal Aid attorney on an Indian Reservation. He then relocated to Lincoln, Nebraska, and moved to the Hartford area in 1991 to practice general litigation, which grew into doing subrogation work for insurance companies to obtain reimbursement of claims paid by seeking compensation from entities actually responsible for the losses. “It got too contentious for me, “he says.
Today he has two jobs: working as a gardener and, since the third week in July, as an enumerator for the Census. As a gardener he trims hedges, mulches, weeds, fertilizes, puts down new soil, plants—those jobs that older homeowners especially find difficult to do. He usually works four hours at a time, no more than three days a week.
Working for the Census has been interesting. “As a lawyer, I came from a certain perspective—I had a goal in mind, but here, I need to get people to be forthcoming… It’s better to ask them to tell their stories. It’s about being friendly and open.” And it’s a chance to take part in a meaningful and important undertaking because it’s crucial to get people counted accurately.
“I appreciate the SJB, the chance to get outside and do something different, a chance to meet with a variety of people,” he says.
Whether you call it a second act, the next chapter, or simply a change of pace, working through the SJB is an excellent opportunity for finding the kind of jobs that make you want to get up in the morning and get to work.