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Career change in the 50s Hot Conversation

Has anyone thought about changing careers, updating their skills, taking classes, or do you think it is too late at our ages? I hope not because right now, while unemployed, I want to get into hospitality. I still have some years to work before I retire and I want to do something new with passion.

Posted in work & money.

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17 Responses

  1. Lilly Lilly says

    Hi kathydsf - 

    I had a long professional career that ended suddenly. I was in my 50′s when I recreated myself,  obtained a different license, and established a new career. There was a financial risk, it was not easy on me,  but very interesting and rewarding. I had skills that I developed from working and life experience in general that gave me some advantages over younger people.

     I feel I am recreating myself again as I reach the next decade. I think a lot will depend on how employers view older women in the field you are interested. I also think of what Suzie Orman advises women. Will the cost of the additional training and education eat up your retirement savings? Will you be saddled with school debt that you cannot recoup or pay for when you obtain a job – and will you be able to obtain a job? It’s never too late to learn something new but there are economic considerations for older persons. 

    You sound very excited. I hope you are able to pursue your wishes. 

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    • Generic Image kathydsf says

      Thank you, Lilly, for your perspective. I am so happy that Vibrant Nation lets me communicate with others who are over 50 and facing the same issues. Yes, I have considered the economic factors and found a program for a certificate in hospitality that is reasonable compared to others who want $35,000 or $40,000 for a one year curriculum. I do want to have enough for retirement and not be saddled with debt. I have found certificate or diploma programs, in the past, to be sufficient enough to supplement my undergraduate degree. Continuing education programs have always benefited me and given me additional knowledge or skills.

      I do hope that a prospective employer views me as having life and work experience. Thank you for your encouragement.

       

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  2. OldBlonde OldBlonde says

    Hi Kathy,

    I have changed careers a few times in my 50s.  After being in real estate for over 10 years as an assistant to a fabulous agent, I had the opportunity to work for a family owned mortuary.  Because I’m a Certified Grief Specialist, I felt this was really a good match for my passion.  I LOVED every minute of it.  The owners and the staff are of a very high caliber and are sincere, honest, caring and compassionate.  Helping families during this most vulnerable time really made me love my job.  Unfortunately, after moving from CA, I was not able to find another mortuary here in the Nashville area that met my standards or hired a large staff.

    For that reason, I took classes (free of charge except for the uniform, stethoscope, and books) at a large, 5 star health care facility (we didn’t use the term ‘Nursing Home’) and I became a Certified Nursing Assistant.  My patients were either on Hospice or had Alzheimer’s (I got special training for that, paid for by my employer).  I fell in love with each and every one of them.  They are just precious and so deserving of special care.  Unfortunately, I was only hired for part-time and I needed more hours and benefits since my husband had lost his job.

    So I moved over to Home Health Care doing the same thing for the same type of patients who were still in their own homes.  Again, I loved those people.  But the industry is very competitive in the Nashville area.  My first employer was unable to live up to the promises that were made to me in terms of hours and pay.  The second Home Health Care company I worked for went belly up in March.

    One day, after spending 8 hours per day, all week long looking for jobs on-line and sending out dozens of applications, I got fed up.  So I got dressed up and went out pounding the pavement.  I hate that part of looking for a job.  I walked into a Marriott Residence Inn only 2.3 miles from my home.  As luck would have it, the man at the front desk just happened to be the General Manager.  He told me that they were not hiring but I could take an application home and bring it back.  I started conversing with him in a ‘light’ fun way.  As I was walking away he said, “By any chance do you have hospitality experience?”  I said, “No, but I worked at Disneyland for three years and they taught me everything I know about hospitality and making people happy to be doing business with you”.

    At that point he asked me to come back with the application.  I handed it to him and he put his initials in the upper right hand corner with a circle around it.  Then he asked me to please go home, fill it out and return it to him by the day’s end.  I was hired within the week.  While I’m starting out on the front desk, he has suggested that if I work out there is room for promotion.  I’ve been hired Full-Time (they were not looking to hire just yet) and I will be eligible for Health and Dental Benefits after 90 days!

    While I miss my patients and the families I served at the mortuary, I really love this job.  The people I work with are fantastic and our particular location is ranked #20 out of almost 700 in terms of service.  We’ve only been open since last July so our staff is all fairly new.  I love working with the public and making them feel special.

    In the meantime, I continue to facilitate Grief Support Groups out of my home in the evenings. On my days off I visit my former patients and give them manicures or rub lotion on them while we chat.  It’s a win/win!

    I’m a happy camper!

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    • Generic Image kathydsf says

      Thank you for your comments! You have done so much and you have many skills. The fact that you are in the hospitality industry gives me confidence that I can find something here. I love dealing with people and giving them a first rate experience. While you have cared for people in the griefing process and in the hospice area, you always supplemented your experience and that is commendable. Some people don’t want to take a risk or change; therefore, they are bored. 

      I think it is your attitude that got you the hotel job and I think there is a market out there for us in our 50s, in jobs in hospitality. We can relate also to people who are older and know what their needs are. I also will not mind working the front desk. Sure, it is going to be a pay cut. But I just like to communicate with people from all cultures.I had supporters and doubters but I have learned not to listen to those who doubt.

      Thank you, happy camper! You are an inspiration

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  3. Generic Image Scuba P says

    I once worked in the travel industry.  Unless you’re working as an executive, the hours are long and the money is lousy – this can quickly squelch one’s passion.  So if money is something you care about, you might consider another industry besides hospitality. 

    I would recommend learning Microsoft Office if you don’t already know it, and you may consider becoming bi-lingual.  Spanish is good for the southwest, German is good if working on a cruise ship, any language is good if working in hotels or tour companies (especially Japanese).

    Upon turning 52, I decided to become a teacher.  I took 48 post-bac credits and now need 18 more credits to complete my master’s in special education.  I live in AZ where restaurant servers generally make more than teachers, but it’s what I love.  I do hope, however, to move to another state as soon as I can sell my house – someplace where I can make a decent wage, or at least qualify for food stamps!

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    • Generic Image kathydsf says

      Thank you for your response. I know someone who has worked in both hotel and travel who is in her 50s. She did say that the hours are long and the pay is low. I think I would be happy with a salary that lets me pay the rent. I know a little French and will certainly brush up on that. 

      You are doing what you love, regardless of the pay and I think that is your “passion.” I know education has been hard hit nationwide too, in the recession. But you are gearing up for post-recession and now is the time for you to complete your degree. I wish you luck in your pursuit. I am glad to hear that there are still paths we can take later in life. In fact, one of my friends in NY had decided to become a teacher in her 50s. Thank you.

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  4. Lisa Mallett Lisa Mallett says

    Hi Kathy,

    I have successfull changed careers and am also a certified coach who has helped midlife people change careers.  Two book resources I would recommend to you are:  “60 Seconds and You’re Hired” by Robin Ryan and “Brag: The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It” by Peggy Klaus.  These excellent books are full of tips and approaches to helping you focus and design a successful plan, put it into action with your best foot forward, and get hired with pay commensurate with everything you have to offer.  It’s not just about retraining etc., it’s about landing a good position in your chosen industry that is the best fit for you.  Hospitality is a huge field; I encourage you to do your homework and refine what you mean by ”hospitality.” 

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    • Generic Image kathydsf says

      Thanks Lisa for your response. I know that there are many directions that are available but I know I can only focus on one at a time. But if I don’t make a move, I will be stuck where I am and it is best to keep on moving.

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  5. Generic Image RN58 says

    I am 58 years old and plan to start on Masters in the Fall.  It will be a 2 year commitment!  I am looking forward to learning new things … Good luck

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    • Generic Image kkrkkr says

      Hello, I read your response about being 58 and starting on your masters degree. I’m 53 and started this year on my masters. Nice to know someone else is doing the same thing in their 50′s. Karen

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      • Generic Image RN58 says

        Good for you!  My master program will be for Women’s Health Nurse practioner.  What about yours?

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      • Generic Image kkrkkr says

        RN58, I was in the Psychiatric NP Program but I’m changing to another university for FNP. Let me know how things go for you! I think we’ll make it! Where are you going for your master’s? I was doing an online program at the university of Cincinnati, but decided to change to the school where I obtained a BSN. Karen

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      • Generic Image RN58 says

        What a coincidence!  I started out at UT this Jan and decided it was not a good fit . Therefore , I plan to attend a long distance program called Frontier School of Midwifery, Family nurse and Women’s health.   I have 25 years experience in OB/Gyn and felt that women’s health track rather than FNP would be more exciting for me.  I am glad to see that I am not alone in changing specialties.  Do you plan to work PT? 

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      • Generic Image kkrkkr says

        Sorry it has taken so long to respond, I’ve been on vacation. I’ve heard good things about the Frontier School of Midwifery. Good luck. Hope this one works out better for you.  As far as working part-time, no unfortunately I still have to hold down a full-time job, but hopefully it will work out ok. Let’s keep in touch! My email is rnva1418@aol.com……Karen

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    • Generic Image kathydsf says

      Thank you and good luck to everyone here who is going for her Master’s. For those going into Nursing or Health Care, I think that field is one that offers opportunities. As the baby boomers age, we are going to look for empathetic care practitioners. 

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      • Lilly Lilly says

        I was in my 40′s when I finally got my masters, and 50′s for more licensing. I think I valued my time in the graduate program much more then when I was younger. Would have become a professional student if I could have. You will both enjoy being part of your programs and leaning new things. May not be easy some days but your life experience will certainly be a plus. Good luck and may you have many more years of work in your fields upon graduation – you both will be in fields where persons who are capable and mature are in demand! 

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  6. Generic Image Anonymous says

    Is there a place on this site where we can post a little bit about our businesses for those of us that have at home businesses and other women that may be looking could check them out if they wanted to?  Just a thought as I notice a couple of people here have stated they have a home business.  I thought it might be helpful.

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