When Baby Boomers Change Jobs, Many Seek “Meaning”

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September 7, 2012; Source: Yahoo! Finance (Associated Press)

More and more Baby Boomers are considering what are now called “encore careers”—jobs they turn to in their 50s or 60s to find personal satisfaction, do some good in the world and even generate income. According to Encore.org, which “provides free, comprehensive information that helps people transition to jobs in the nonprofit world and the public sector,” nine million of the 78 million Baby Boomers have already sought and acquired encore careers (NPQ previously took note of some of the most popular encore careers here). Encore.org is predicting that number could increase tremendously because an increasing number of Baby Boomers say they want to combine making a difference with earning a paycheck. For a number of older Americans, it’s not enough anymore to just sit back and relax in retirement.

“A mixture of longer lifespans, layoffs, shifting cultural attitudes and financial realities is causing this growing urge among over-50s to seek out more purposeful work,” AP Personal Finance Writer Dave Carpenter reports. “Sometimes it’s just an itch to do something more purposeful in retirements that can now last for three decades, while still pulling in needed income.”

The advice coming from encore career experts is to look at the nonprofit sector, as well as opportunities in health care, education, green jobs, and government. There’s even an internship programs for Baby Boomers who want to find a meaningful career. Encore Fellowship Network, which was started by the nonprofit think tank Civic Ventures in 2009, offers paid internships for older workers. With funding from private foundations and employers, participants are matched with a nonprofit and can receive a stipend of $20,000 to $35,000 for a year.

There is also growing interest among—and opportunity for—Boomers in the social enterprise sector. According to the Kauffman Foundation, “Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 have had a higher rate of entrepreneurial activity than those aged 20-34. With many in this age bracket reaching retirement, but still wanting to work, entrepreneurship is an increasingly popular choice.” There may be complex reasons for this. Many seniors have experienced age discrimination in their job searches, and the fear of age discrimination has deterred others from even looking. While starting new businesses can be a good option for some Baby Boomers, it also implies they may be working harder than ever in their senior years. –Mary Jo Draper