3 Women Who Found Their True Calling After 45

by Kaitlin Bitting via Fairygodboss | May 08, 2018

  • My Vault
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While some people know exactly what they want to do with their lives from the time they’re teenagers, many others struggle to figure out what they want to be when they grow up—even when they’re grown up. Which isn’t necessarily a negative thing. In fact, career switching has become more common in recent years, particularly among those in their 40s and 50s, proving that it’s never too late to start over. Below, three women reveal how they found their true calling after the age of 45.

1. From MBA to Marathons: Denise Sauriol

What did you do for a living up until your career switch?

I worked in accounting systems for 26 years. I have my CPA and MBA and had always been good with numbers. I loved the problem-solving aspect of the job and enjoyed helping accountants learn how to use a system.

What made you decide to pursue a different path?

I had spent the last five years coaching runners part-time. I loved it and always hoped it could become my full-time job someday, but I found myself waiting for someone to make that happen for me. That was until I lost my cousin, David, in 2015. He was 48, active, and married with six kids, and left the gym one day and had a heart attack outside. When that happened, it was the first time I realized that we do not have today. I always knew that we did not have tomorrow, but when that happened it made me appreciate and value every day even more.  

As I continued to coach runners, I realized that doing this filled my soul. Accounting systems did not. On June 3, 2016, I found the courage to do something I loved instead of what I thought I always had to do. It was my official day of “De-Corporating.” I have no regrets, and every day I get to help people do something that they don't think they can do, whether it's the first mile or their fastest marathon.

What is your current job? What do you love about it?

I'm now a full-time running coach. I help people run their first mile all the way through 100 miles. I help them hit their goal, and I also help them have fun with running. I love when my clients finally believe in themselves like I do. I love when my runners who just want to lose weight end up liking running. I love when my first-time marathoners finish and just days later talk about how they want to do it again. And I love when my runners then inspire people in their circle to start running and or run a marathon like they did.

What advice would you give other women who are considering a career switch?

There's a reason why you're even thinking of switching careers. Listen to your gut. Remember when we were little and we could be anything we wanted? You still can. Don't wait until you retire to do what you love. Doing what you love isn't work. It gets overwhelming sometimes because you may not have a mentor and are figuring things out on your own, but I'd rather being overwhelmed following my heart than going through the motions year after year in a job that is stable but isn't soul-enriching.

2. Startup Founder at 50-Something: Trish McDermott

What did you do for a living up until your career switch?

I had spent most of my career working in the dating industry, including 10 years running public relations as Match.com's dating expert and spokesperson. Then I was home with my four kids up until my divorce, when I found myself in a sink-or-swim career pool, and I felt a bit like I was going under. I began working as a media trainer, helping clients prepare for television interviews.  

What made you decide to pursue a different path?

Media training was fun and paid well, but the work was sporadic. It wasn't enough to pay the bills in the San Francisco Bay Area. I had been applying for jobs in my field, public relations, but after 10 years out of the workforce, it was apparent that my resume was not making it to the top of the pile. I worked with an employment coach who told me it would be unlikely to land a job via online employment ads. She encouraged me to network with former media training clients and former colleagues. The epiphany for me was the moment I realized I wasn't going to "find a job," but rather I would "create my next career."

What is your current job? What do you love about it?

Within a week of meeting with the coach, a former colleague reached out to me. She was launching a baby gear rental service and marketplace called Babierge (baby + concierge). It would be like Airbnb but for baby gear rental. While she had not yet raised money (and therefore could not pay me) she invited me to join the startup for equity, heading up communications and community and building the company from the ground up. That was 18 months ago. Today we're funded, getting paid, and growing very quickly, renting cribs, car seats, toys, and a lot more to families in 150 markets.  

I love that in my mid 50s I'm a co-founder of a startup, one that's powered by gig-economy moms and serving the needs of families. I'm enjoying building a community from the ground up. It's a happy, feel-good story. I've had to work hard to catch up on all the new tech and tools being used in the workplace these days, but now I'm current again. That feels good.

What advice would you give other women who are considering a career switch?

Take a risk. Sometimes we have to say "yes" to opportunities and see what happens. It's rare that the perfect job presents itself to us. For me, I said "yes" to a job with no salary, largely because I saw the likely long-term outcome—a challenging and rewarding career doing work that I would enjoy with a talented, motivated team who would succeed in building a company that would change the way families travel.

3. The 56-Year-Old Intern: Bev Farrell

What did you do for a living up until your career switch?

I had almost always worked in retail, predominately management, and in a variety different types of retail from hardware to fabric. For 13 years prior to my current position, I worked in fine and estate jewelry. In late August 2015, my boss passed away and the business closed. At age 56, I had lost a job I loved and had often referred to as “my retirement job.” I never expected to be unemployed, having to dust off and update my resume for a job search.

What made you decide to pursue a different path?

There was no great epiphany to my career change. It was more about timing, fate, and taking a chance. When I wasn’t filling out online applications and receiving little or no response, I was at the unemployment office, taking tests to see if I could qualify for an employment retraining grant. In December 2015, I came across an unpaid internship for a copywriter for a digital marketing agency. While it was a bit out of my wheelhouse, I had majored in English and continued to pursue my love of writing with various classes and workshops throughout the years. I had even written more than 600 jewelry descriptions for the online shop at my last job. Besides all of that, all I had to do to apply was upload my resume, attach a few writing samples, and answer four questions that were fun, creative, and definitely not your standard application questions. I figured I had nothing to lose, and it seemed like a simple way to wrap up that day’s job search. In January 2016, I was offered the internship. I was both terrified and excited.

What is your current job? What do you love about it?

I work at Creative Click Media, the agency where I did my internship. It's been just over two years and I've progressed from copywriter to content manager. I work with clients from various industries. There was so much to learn and I'm still learning. What I love most about my job is that it challenges me. I get to write and be creative every day. As a bonus, I work with a great group of fun and inspiring people.

What advice would you give other women who are considering a career switch?

It may sound cliche, but it’s never too late. Don’t discount your life experience. We all have skills outside our current job description, some of them things we love to do and do well. While switching careers can be scary, it can also be very rewarding.

A version of this post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, which helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits, and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards, and career advice.

Filed Under: Job Search | Networking | Technology | Workplace Issues

Tags: baby boomers | career switch | gig economy | older job seekers | startup

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