If your nest egg took a hit during the Great Recession or you haven’t yet reached that elusive retirement savings goal but are nearing retirement age, leaving the work world may not be an option.
But if slogging away at your current job isn’t appealing, even if you need the income, now could be the time for a major change. Enter: the second act. Here’s how five women launched their second — or third — careers, and what they’ve learned along the way.
Denise Ohlemacher, Northeast Ohio
From one career to another: After a 30-year career in advertising and marketing, Ohlemacher never intended to return to the workforce. But when she came across Painting With a Twist, an instructional art and wine franchise, she was captivated by the positive and creative concept.
What prepared her: In her first career as an advertising executive, Ohlemacher had developed business plans; hired her own staff; consulted with clients; worked with artists, designers and illustrators; and developed advertising and media campaigns. All those skills helped prepare her for running a Painting With a Twist franchise.
Why it works: “I love exposing our guests to this fun, creative concept,” Ohlemacher says. “In class, they quickly discover their hidden creative side and a personal sense of accomplishment when they leave with their own little masterpieces at the end of the night.”
Carol Gee, Atlanta, GA
From one career to another: While her lifelong dream was to be a writer, Gee spent 20 years in the military and 20 years working in higher education. When she finally had the tenure to retire from the university, she was ready to write full time. Her “third act” as a freelance writer allows her to write books, magazine articles, and business materials, and set her own schedule.
What prepared her: During her last seven years at an Atlanta university, Gee worked as a writer and editor, copy editing scientific manuscripts and researching and writing business case studies that were taught in undergrad, graduate, and executive education classes. Not only was this great experience, some of the contacts she made have turned out to become clients for her freelance writing business.
Why it works: If you’re going to pursue a second — or third — act, Gee suggests choosing something you’re passionate about. “I love doing what I love on my own time,” she says. “I also love being able to choose my assignments and being my own boss.”
Lynda Spiegel, Forest Hills, NY
From one career to another: A former vice president of global human resources, Lynda Spiegel now runs a career coaching and resume writing business.
What prepared her: “As an HR executive, becoming a career coach and resume writer was a natural progression,” Spiegel says. “I know what recruiters look for in a resume since I read thousands of them. The HR practice of succession planning also informed my ability to be a career coach.”
Why it works: After retiring from her former job, Spiegel actually spent about six months looking for full-time employment. “I just couldn’t envision anything else,” she says. Once she realized she had the skills to create her own flexible career that would bring value to others, it was a no-brainer. “My current work allows me to have a direct impact on people,” Spiegel says. “In HR, I represented the corporation, but now, I get to help individual job candidates. I love it.”
Alison Parker and Lacey Frank, Panama City, FL
From one career to another: Parker and Frank met when they worked together as second-grade teachers. They shared a passion for education and were both interested in a second career, so they bought a Tutor Doctor franchise while still teaching full-time. Five months later, they transitioned into full-time franchisees.
What prepared them: Parker and Frank worked together teaching 36 students for five years, so they already knew they were good partners. “We’re very much alike and yet we balance each other out, playing off each other’s strengths and where each of us falls short,” Frank says. “The trust established between us while teaching made preparing to become business owners less intimidating.”
Why it works: “We love being able to help students continue with their education, but also have the freedom that comes along with owning a business,” Frank says. “We are able to be mothers to our children in everyday activities, such as dropping them off at school and attending field trips. These are things we missed out on in our first career.”