When Mattie Ruffin, 62, retired from her job as a program analyst at the Environmental Protection Agency in early 2010, she took a year off to relax. After working for the federal government for 27 years, it was a well-deserved respite. "I hadn't planned to retire, but my sister died suddenly," recalls Ruffin, who is also a widow. "I got to thinking…I'm not 21 anymore, and tomorrow is just not promised to me. So I'm just going to come on out of here and enjoy my life."
See also: Nonprofit organization job tips.
Ruffin has the cushion of a federal government pension, but she didn't want to sit home indefinitely. "I developed a lot of good skills over the years, and computers are my thing," she says. Her specialties, for example, include administrative management, and preparing budgets and spreadsheets on Excel. "I didn't want to lose the technology skills," she says. "If I didn't do something to keep those up, then I felt I would have lost those skills."
She signed up for the 10- week Envision 50+ program offered through the Workforce Development and Continuing Education department at nearby Prince George's Community College in Largo, Md. In 2010, the college started the program, aimed at people over 50, who want to rewire either to change careers or continue to work in retirement, with funding from Civic Ventures' Encore College Initiative.
It didn't involve too much heavy lifting for Ruffin, since the course work could be done partially online. She gradually revamped her résumé, brushed up on her computer and online job hunting skills, and networked with potential employers as the weeks ticked by. A sweet bonus – since she was over 60, her tuition was free.
Ruffin learned about an opening at the college in its adult education department and the part-time position was ideal for someone with her techie background. She works nine hours per week as an adult education administrative assistant. Ruffin helps adults from age 18 to over 40 register via computer to enroll in classes to earn GEDs and more.
She collects drilled down data on how many students are being trained and their progress, then churns out detailed, monthly spreadsheet reports for the college and the Maryland Department of Labor, which partially funds the efforts. Her rate: $15 an hour. "It's not like I need the job to pay my bills. I call it my mad money. It's the money I use to go shopping, or hang out with my girlfriends, or go to dinner," Ruffin says.
While the hours sitting at the computer aren't a problem for her, she does feel the budgetary pinch faced by many nonprofit workers. "I was so used to having all the office supplies I needed to perform my job when I wanted them when I was in the government. Now, because of the college's budget constraints, I'm careful to reuse some office supplies."
Her ultimate working in retirement reward: "I'm a people person – I like helping people," Ruffin says. "And that's what I'm doing."
There are plenty of great nonprofit jobs out there for you. For job-hunting help, check out websites such as Commongood Careers, Idealist.org, Change.org, Bridgestar and Civic Ventures' site Encore.org. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has a huge roster of nonprofit and philanthropy job boards and employment resources, too. LinkedIn also has a job search section dedicated to nonprofit positions.
Here are five popular jobs to consider. Pay ranges, which will vary based on factors such as experience and where you live, are primarily derived from U.S. Department of Labor data.