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Sacramento Boomer

Living the Dream: Your (Second) Career is Calling

Mar 25, 2020 11:38PM
It’s never too late to follow your dreams. These four boomers (and one Gen Xer!) are living proof that sometimes your second act can be more fulfilling than the first. Read on to hear about their first career, how they pivoted to a second, and all the lessons they learned along the way.

Ronna, Folsom, Age: 61

Having recently transitioned to freelance consulting, Ronna has been in human resources for more than 30 years. She started her career in LA in the television and entertainment industry, where she began in workforce planning focused on production teams, including camera operators, audio techs, editors, and more. “I transitioned to a professional special effects makeup artist for film but came back to human resources,” she says.

Ronna left the entertainment industry in the early ’90s and moved to Silicon Valley when it was at its height. “Business was booming,” she remembers. “I worked for Electronic Data Systems (EDS), Hitachi, Cisco, DelMonte, etc. During this time, I took a more strategic role of planning for workforce development and leading teams across divisions and nationally.” In the late ’90s, she moved to Sacramento. “It was where I wanted to raise my child,” she says, “and was one of the best decisions of my life.” Ronna worked for Intel Corporation in Folsom for 18 years, where she focused on leadership development, organizational health, and set up mentoring and coaching programs. “My last years with Intel, I moved [into an] HR role,” she says. “They have such a large HR department; they need their own HR support. This allowed me to continue my passion while working with the HR managers and leaders, coaching and developing strong leaders on a global level.”



Ronna retired in the summer of 2017, and she did “nothing” for six months. “In truth, those six months were full of figuring out my new health care, adjusting to my newfound freedom, finding a financial advisor that suited me, doing the house projects that had been neglected, and taking some much-needed vacations,” she shares.

Later that year, a former Intel colleague (now CEO at Eisel Consulting) asked Ronna to partner on a training session at the College of Continuing Education at Sacramento State. “The content spoke to much of the work I had done in the past and the instructor asked if I would assist with the Q&A. The experience reminded me how much I loved the work and the interaction,” she says.

In addition to partnering with Eisel Consulting, Sacramento State, and Unleashing Leaders (unleashingleaders.com), Ronna has started a consulting business, offering coaching, strategic planning, organization health, and leadership development. “I love what I do and continue to grow and learn, so I can bring the most relevant, current information and the best of me to my clients,” she shares. “I never saw myself as an entrepreneur but here I am. When I left full-time work, I didn’t dream this would be my trajectory in 2020 and moving forward. I’m living my best life.”

What advice would you give to someone looking to change career paths?
Taking the six months to settle in and transition was one of the best things I did. It gave me time to consider my options and really decide what I wanted this next chapter in life to be.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
As of now, I love the balance I have of work and play. I don’t see myself stopping. I do a reset of goals and vision for myself every year. If, at some point, my goals and vision change or I’m no longer truly having fun, I will make a change. This chapter, more than ever, reminds me that this is my shot to embrace the life I want. While my health is still good and my body allows, I want to travel and play as often as possible. It’s not uncommon to find me walking the Folsom trails for several miles or kayaking when the weather is warm.

What does success look like to you?
It’s about the experiences in life. Am I happy? Am I bringing value? Am I embracing life? Am I spending  quality time with friends and family? Am I making space for me? Someday I will get to look back and know I made deep, meaningful friendships, was a good mother and supportive daughter, and will leave a legacy of improving the work environment for multiple businesses and industries. For me, that is success.

Julie Granja, Fair Oaks, Age 55

Julie Granja is a financial advisor (edwardjones.com/julie-granja) and works with her clients to make plans that will help them reach their financial goals, whether it’s retiring, sending children or grandchildren to college, building financial freedom, or protecting and transferring their wealth. “Previously, I worked in the banking and financial services industry for over 20 years in several different areas, including trust administration, securities processing and taxation, loan underwriting, customer service, and client management,” Granja says. “I always dreamed of being a financial advisor, but I hadn’t completed my college degree, so I didn’t feel I could or even should obtain that type of position.”
Julie Granja



When Granja had her son at 41, she decided to stay home with him. “I knew my career would take a hit, but I felt it was worth it,” she says. “But rather than leaving a gap in my resume, although explainable, I took the opportunity to go back to school and complete my degree at the University of San Francisco, with the goal of becoming a financial advisor when I went back to work.”
 
With her skills, experience, and education, Granja says it was still a big leap, as she knew building an investment practice would require a lot of effort, grit, and determination. “Every skill and experience I have gained over my 20-plus years in financial services helps me understand and serve my clients better—not just my job knowledge, but my people skills as well,” she says. “No matter where my clients are in life or when they start their financial journey with me, their goals, fears, and dreams are all significant for me to comprehend. Having a close relationship with my clients helps them to open up, which really helps me to understand how to best serve their interests.”

What advice would you give to someone looking to change career paths?
Do some deep introspection and ask yourself why you want to make a change. Ask yourself if you will regret not having taken the leap. Do an inventory of the skills and experience required, and talk to current or prior colleagues for their input. Go into it well informed, get prepared, and go for it! Understand that it may take time and effort, but if your “why” is strong enough, all the effort will be worth it.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Right where I am now—continuing to do what I’m passionate about and partnering with my clients to help them achieve their goals and celebrating together with them, by attending their retirement parties and reveling in special milestones.

What does success look like to you?
It’s the “aha” moment when clients put it all together and can see a tangible plan for their financial goals, partnering with them to develop a plan they can embrace, then watching as the plan progresses to get them where they want to be. When they can see their retirement as a reality, it’s like watching the weight of the world being lifted from their shoulders. I rarely meet someone who won’t benefit from some type of financial planning. When clients are cheerful and want to exchange hugs after an appointment, I know I have my dream job.

Reg Holliday, Gold River, Age 72

In March 1971, Reg Holliday graduated from the University of Georgia and moved back to California, where he landed a job in a department store in Pasadena. “I got a job offer from the A. T. Cross Company—a manufacturer of fine writing instruments—starting as an independent sales representative in Northern California. I worked for them for 21 years,” Holliday says.
Reg Holliday



After Cross changed their structure and eliminated all the independent manufacture representatives, Holliday worked for the Sacramento Bee as an ad salesperson for their weekly Spectrum Newspaper for a few years, followed by KVIE public television for a year, and then Sacramento Magazine for nine years. “In 2008, Style Media Group (Stylemg.com) offered me an opportunity to work as a territory ad sales rep, and I’ve been with them ever since.”

Holliday said he feels lucky to have a publication and a company he’s proud to represent. “I love that I get to interact with a lot of people, both coworkers and customers,” he says.

How did your previous career experience help you succeed in your current career?
As the A. T. Cross representative, I covered a fairly large territory and called on a diverse group of people and companies. Since I was based in Northern California and Cross was in Rhode Island, I had to develop the ability to be a self-starter. I had no one looking over my shoulder every day to report to. Those self-starter abilities go hand in hand with being an ad sales representative.

What does success look like to you?
Success, at this point, is being comfortable in my own skin and not trying to impress anyone. Friends, family, and good health are most important. Every day is a gift!

Cindie Wilding, Rocklin, Age 65

Cindie Wilding thought she would be a teacher, just like her parents. “I graduated from college with a degree in English, because I love stories and I love to write,” she says. “However, while I enjoyed student teaching, I didn’t see it as being my forever career path.”
Cindie Wilding



Wilding graduated from paralegal school and spent nearly 35 years as a trial paralegal. “I worked directly with clients for a long time, which I loved, and then switched to environmental law where our clients were water companies,” she remembers. “While I loved the work we did, my job was a lot of summarizing massive amounts of documents—boxes and boxes of documents.”

After some time, she began to realize the work didn’t fulfill in a way it once did. “It was no longer feeding my soul,” she says. “I began looking for another career—one that ideally could be my own business and sustain me.” But after short stints as a life coach and certified retreat coach still felt she needed something more.

Then one day, she saw an ad in a magazine for The Celebrant Institute. “The ad stated something along the lines of ‘make all ceremonies meaningful for the people involved,’” she says. “This totally resonated with me, as I had been to so many weddings and my own mother-in-law’s memorial, where the ceremony had nothing to do with the people. I always felt rather empty afterward, as I wanted to know more about that person or those people. When I shared the ad with my best friend and told her I was thinking of going through the program, she told me she had seen the same ad and immediately thought of me.”

After completing two specialties in the online program, she began doing weddings while still working at the law firm. Every year, the number of ceremonies increased. “After four years of a ‘day job’ and my celebrant practice, it was time for me to fly the nest. For the last six years, I’ve run my business (cindiewilding.typepad.com) quite successfully and am so very proud of what I have created for myself and for the people who are my clients.”

What is the best job perk you have right now?
I absolutely love what I do, and so many people, both clients and those who know me intimately, comment on how well it suits me. I love meeting new people and getting to know them and tell their story. Every ceremony involves a love story—the love story of the people involved, whether it’s a wedding or a memorial or anything else. I find that fascinating and so very connecting to be the one to tell that story to their nearest and dearest friends and family, or in the case of an elopement, to read their love story directly to them. I love writing, spending the time researching and writing their special, one-of-a-kind ceremony, and then performing it while hearing the laughter and the tears and getting comments afterwards about how “that was the best wedding I’ve ever been to!” or “How do you know them? It feels like you must be an old friend.”

What advice would you give to someone looking to change career paths?
I know it sounds cliché, but listen to your heart and keep going through doors as they open. I had a very good picture of what I wanted and how it would look, and I do believe that I have manifested just that. I had a vision and kept listening to what my inner voice suggested. And, as a door would open, even if it didn’t feel likely to lead to anything, I would go through it. You just never know where things will lead you down the road. Believe in yourself and your vision. It’s sort of like, “if you build it, they will come” mentality. Create something that is uniquely you and your passion, and people will fall in love with that. I have people tell me all the time how much they love my website and that it makes them want to get married, even if they weren’t planning to! I designed my website and maintain it, and I’m not great at techy stuff or art, but I think it reflects my genuine joy for what I do.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
I have said I will never say I’m retiring and doing my last ceremony. That won’t happen. For one thing, I am the family celebrant. I have performed memorials for my mom, brother, niece, and former husband, as well as weddings for various family and friends. I love what I do too much to stop. I will probably slow down in the next few years to allow time for travel and time with family, but I see myself continuing to take ceremonies that fill my heart and soul and make me feel I am doing some good in this world.

Brandy West, Rancho Cordova, Age 46

With a resume that includes time spent as a gas station attendant, retail worker, and a restaurant hostess, Brandy West has done just about everything. When she was 21, she began working as the headquarters receptionist at a family-owned car dealership. “This was my real introduction to the working world,” she says. “Roughly four years later, it was announced the company would be closing, and one of the assigned auditors was impressed with my work, and referred me to their office with Deloitte and Touche. I accepted an offer with their Portland, Oregon, office as their travel and events coordinator.”
Brandy West; Hair and Makeup by Thee Makeup Girl, theemakeupgirl.com



One year later, her husband’s job required them to relocate back to California. “I was hired by a pharmaceutical benefit company to be a part of their marketing and advertising department,” she says. In 2003, she had her first child but was laid off one month after returning to work. She took time off to be a stay-at-home mom and while looking for her next job discovered she was pregnant again. “While searching for maternity clothes, I was approached by the store manager about accepting an associate manager position,” she says, and ended up working with Motherhood Maternity in management for over five years.

To focus on her daughter’s health, West left the job and soon rediscovered her passion for cooking and baking. “Food Network became my best friend! I loved being home with my family, and I have never regretted making that decision.”

In 2011, Brandy was pregnant again—this time with twins. “Although, things didn’t go well, and one week before Christmas, we said goodbye to them,” she says. “I was understandably devastated, as was my husband who didn’t want to try again. He was about to be 40, and I was 37. We had also just learned that our daughter would require surgery for a previously diagnosed health issue,” she says.

Feeling at peace with the decision to not have more children, West thought about what else she wanted for herself. “While watching my beloved Food Network, I saw an advertisement for The Art Institute’s culinary program. I decided in that moment I wanted to return to school and get my degree. So, at 38, I [did],” she says.

Planning to go the savory route, she decided to switch gears and joined the Baking and Pastry program midway through her training. “At age 40, I walked across that stage, family and friends cheering, with a gold tassel, summa cum laude,” she says.

West took a part-time position at Michaels to teach cake decorating and a year later received a request for a custom cake order. “She wanted a three-tier, topsy-turvy cake, with fully sculpted characters from many of the Tim Burton films,” she says. “That day, I discovered God gave me a gift I had no idea existed. I was able to sculpt 12 characters out of chocolate that were fully recognizable. That cake led to the biggest decision of my life!”

In 2016, she launched Go West Baking and Events (gowestbakingandevents.com). “In my first month of business, I was invited to be a part of a window display and photo shoot; in my second month, I filmed an episode of Cake Wars on Food Network; and by the end of the year, I was voted Best Wedding Cakes in Sacramento—a title I was able to hold onto for three years,” she says.

What advice would you give to someone looking to change career paths?
Don’t focus on the fall, just jump! If it turns out to be the wrong move at first, what have you really lost? In all likelihood, it’s exactly what you needed to push yourself down the right path.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Truthfully, I have learned not to look too far down the road. There may be a “road less traveled” that I don’t want to miss. But, for now, I love what I do, and I’m going to keep right on going.

What does success look like to you?
The happiness on my customers’ faces, the pride in my husband and children’s faces, and waking up and looking at my own face in the mirror with no regrets.

Cool Jobs for Retirees

Are you retired but missing the fulfilling feeling of clocking in, socializing with coworkers, and bringing home a paycheck? It might be time to get back into the workforce. But there’s no reason to feel the pressure to get a 9-to-5 or to go back to the industry from which you retired. Here are some cool jobs that will get you out of the house and put a bit more dough in your pocket.

Uber/Lyft Driver
You can make your own hours, explore your own city, listen to your favorite music and/or podcast, and meet interesting people.

Barista
If you love coffee, just think of the employee discounts! Working at a local coffee shop will introduce you to new people—who will become your regulars as you get to know exactly how they like their coffee.

Hotel Concierge
If you’re the person who always knows the hot new restaurant in town or the interesting new museum exhibit, you might consider stopping in to local hotels around town to see if there are openings for hotel concierge staff.

Dog Walker
For the animal lover who also enjoys staying active, walking dogs will combine those passions into one cuddly gig.

Nanny
If your own kids are all out of the house and you’re feeling a bit of the empty-nester syndrome, you might consider looking for jobs as a nanny. If you enjoy cooking, cleaning, and being surrounded by energetic kids or cuddly infants, this just might be the job that will keep you feeling young at heart.

Librarian
If you find yourself spending most of your free time reading, working part-time as a librarian will allow you to share that love with other bibliophiles of all ages.

Entrepreneur
Not inspired by the gigs listed here? Follow your own dreams! If you see a gap in the marketplace for your business or product, pursue it. Make it a reality. It’s never too late to try something new!

Job-Hunting Tips

Baby Boomers are retiring at a rate of about 10,000 per day. Yet, if you are eager to retire from your fulltime job, but still want to remain in the workforce doing part-time work or consulting gigs, here are a few simple tips to help you stand out as the best candidate for the position.

1. Be willing to learn.
Technology has changed, and it can be hard to keep up. By staying connected and learning the new apps or programs, you will keep your mind sharp. And it will show prospective employers that you aren’t afraid of challenges.

2. Forget about being overqualified.
Even if you’ve been working for 30, 40 or 50 years, remind yourself that you don’t know everything. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses as well as qualifications. If you are asked if you think you are overqualified in an interview, spin it to highlight that you are highly qualified, and your experience will benefit the team.

3. Make a great impression.
As you know from your career, practice makes perfect. For any interviews or networking opportunities, make sure to still do your research, prep for the conversation, and have your talking points ready. A bit of preparation will help you feel confident to make the best first impression. Ageism unfortunately does exist, and the more you prepare, the better you’ll do to showcase your talents and highlight your skills.

4. Use your network.
As a retired baby boomer, you’ve got a huge network of friends and colleagues who may be able to help you find that next career path and/or help you make a new connection or introduction. Use this to your advantage. Share your goals with those around you, which will allow you to put it out into the universe. And in return, that job just might come directly to you.