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Editorial
These 4 Women Found Their True Calling After Age 45 — Here’s How
AdobeStock/bernardbodo
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While some women know exactly what they want to do with their lives from the time they’re children, many others struggle with figuring out what they want to be when they grow up--even when they’re technically grown ups. Yet so-called indecisiveness isn’t necessarily negative. In fact, research has shown that college students who change their major are more likely to graduate than those who declare it right away. Even those who have entered the workforce aren’t tethered to their chosen profession: career switching has become more and more common in recent years--particularly among those in their 40s and 50s, proving it’s never too late to start over.

Here are four real-life women who found their true calling after the age of 45 — and how they did it, in their own words.

From MBA to Marathons: Denise Sauriol, Running Coach and "Marathon Whisperer"

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 5 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 he 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 doing this filled my soul. Accounting systems did not. On June 3rd, 2016, I found the courage to do something I love 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 am 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, but 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. 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 is a reason why you are 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 would 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.

A First-Time Founder at 50-Something: Trish McDermott, Co-Founder and Vice President of Communications and Community, Babierge

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 ten 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 ten 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 (all C-level executives) 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 an 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 are funded, getting paid, and growing very quickly--now 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 is powered by gig economy moms and serving the needs of families. 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.  

Running community is entirely new for me, but a background in communications has really helped.  I'm enjoying building a community from the ground up. And finally, we are part of an accelerator in NY. They funded us and we commute back and forth between San Francisco and the financial district in New York City as they help us quickly grow the company. We work with all the other startups in the program, many headed up younger founders.  It's been good for me to be part of all that energy and enthusiasm, not to mention in the presence of so many smart and motivated entrepreneurs.

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.   

From School to Spa: Cherie Shaw, Esthetician and Owner of Breathe Esthetics Spa

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

Prior to my career switch, I was a teacher. I taught 4th grade for several years, dabbled a bit with high school 10th graders, and then spent my last three years with middle schoolers.

What made you decide to pursue a different path?

When my headmaster handed me a letter of intent, I had a feeling that I was going to decline a contract offer for the following school year. I think the word “intent” held a lot of weight for me. The school year leading up to my decision to leave had no spark or passion or joy. I loved my students, completely respected the teaching profession, and knew I could not continue if I could no longer bring my best.

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

Currently, I am an esthetician. I own a day spa, employ ten amazing women and have a solid client base. I love the connections I make with my clients, love helping them with their self-care and skin care needs, and love the community environment I have created.

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

I believe a career change is prompted in two ways. Sometimes we know it is time to leave our current path. Other times we are overwhelming drawn to a new avenue. Sometimes we’re pushed; sometimes we’re pulled.

I would advise women to get in touch with which dynamic is at work in them, cultivate a strong support system because change comes with challenges, and give themselves some time to discover a career path that meshes well with their strengths and passions. Knowing why you want a change, the hurdles to making that change, and what fits you well in this season of life will help you to move forward with a clear direction and strong motivation.

The 56-Year-Old Intern: Bev Farrell, Content Manager at Creative Click Media

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

Before switching careers, 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 an employment retraining grant. In December 2015 I came across an unpaid internship for a copywriter for a digital marketing agency during my daily search. 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 600+ jewelry descriptions for the online shop at my last job. Besides all of that, they only requested I upload my resume, 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 am currently working at Creative Click Media, the agency where I did my internship. It has been just over two years and I have progressed from copywriter to content manager, working with clients from various industries. There was so much to learn and I am 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 the advice I would share with women considering a career change is it’s never too late. Don’t discount your life experience. We all have skills outside of 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.

As evidenced by Denise, Trish, Cherie and Bev, it’s never too late to pursue your passions and find your dream job.

-- 

Kaitlin Bitting is a vice president of public relations and a certified health & wellness coach. She's passionate about helping people find the motivation to create lasting, positive change in their lives, whether personal or professional. Learn more at kaitlinbitting.com.

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