Jopp: I would like to agree with you Jane and add, as we see with our volunteers, that people are looking for meaning. How do they give back to the community? Stay relevant? Enjoy what they are doing? Jane's point of "moving to action" is excellent.
Pauley: I have another question for you, Dr. Jopp, because I really understand where Claire is coming from. Is there a way to prepare yourself to become an effective volunteer? I, for one, could see myself knocking on a door to be helpful but not really knowing what it is I could contribute. How can a person prepare to become the volunteer they would like to be?
Jopp: I think a lot of it is identifying your passion. It's so important. Find out what causes you are most passionate about. Perhaps you were a banker. You could help a small business grow. If you want to help the homeless, there may be organizations that would be a good fit for you.
Pauley: I would like to draw people's attention to the poll we've been taking online. There's a question, "If you’re planning a career transition, when will you make the leap?" We're really talking about reinvention when we say career transition. I think a lot of people aren't really thinking about career necessarily, or even a job. The work that defines us isn't necessarily paid work. At our age our parents and grandparents were winding down their lives, not thinking of starting them up again.
Dr. Jopp, here's a question from me: What if your job was mothering? What if you didn't have a background in marketing, but you raised a family. What if someone asked you what your passion was, and you felt you didn't have a good answer because your passion has been your own family?
Jopp: That's a great questions and it goes back to exploration. You may want to try out a couple of organizations and see what you can get involved with. As a mother, you probably have one of the hardest jobs. A big part of volunteerism is nurturing, whether at a local hospital or homeless shelter. You don't have to have business experience or business skills to serve in those roles. When you're in your 50s you have a great opportunity to look at ideas you want to pursue.
Comment from D.L.: I am somewhat talented in the party decor world so I've volunteered to do projects for people and in my community. People all love my work and me, but trying to break from a volunteer position to wanting to get paid, people look at that differently. How do I get people to pay for my work? It’s like my mother always said, "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?" Help!
Pauley: I have a suggestion for D.L. Use your volunteer party decor expertise to start marketing yourself. If your party decor is that good, take pictures of it and create a website showing some examples of what you've done in the past. And I don't think your website needs to say "P.S. They didn't pay me for this." If you're good, the work will speak for itself and people will come knocking at your door.
Jopp: We've noticed in the last several years that we're getting a lot of people in career transitions volunteering for SCORE because it allows them to add the experience to their résumés.
Comment from Arlene L. Earlier in the chat you gave some information about the number of new businesses started by people over age 50. Are these mostly cottage industries?
Jopp: They're not just cottage industries. Many people pursue franchises. A couple of clients opened up a Sylvan Learning Center, so don't feel like you have to limit yourself just to cottage industries.
Comment from Claire: Are there any organizations or places to get "help" with these decisions?
Pauley: Dr. Jopp will have some ideas, but I would like to suggest that this is the start of a solution to one of the problems you discussed having. I sense that you're feeling isolated. Perhaps you can find a way to round up some women in your area who are feeling like you do and just brainstorm this question among yourselves. You might get some good ideas. The worst that can happen is you come away from the gathering knowing each other a little better and having a cup of coffee. In the meantime, you might want to join The Reinvention Group at AARP.org. You'll find a nonstop conversation going on and you can be part of it.
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