The National AfterSchool Association is the leading voice of the afterschool profession dedicated to development, education, and care of children and youth during their out of school hours.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Encore Careers

Dr. Paul G. Young
President & CEO
National AfterSchool Association

As a music major in college, I was taught what needed to be done before and during concerts so that my audiences would ask for more. It’s every musician’s aspiration to finish a performance and hear shouts of bravo! and encore!

As an educator, I’ve approached my professional work as I was trained to do by my musical mentors.  My high school marching bands, 4th and 5th grade classrooms, and schools where I served as principal were my ‘concert venues’ where my students, staff,  and I worked to meet the highest expectations and plaudits from our supporters. Our success bred success. The more we did together, the more we realized we could do.

Then in 2004, after many years and many ‘performances’ came the age for retirement. Once I did it, I discovered retirement to be very challenging. I would dress, but have no place to go. I had no audiences to perform for. There was a big void in my life.

But rather quickly, I was presented opportunities in afterschool. And during that time, the term encore career was made popular.[1] I soon discovered more audiences, performance venues, and reasons to work hard. Life was good again.

But we were also taught another lesson in music school. Don’t let an encore become another concert! After one, or perhaps two short, delightful encores, there is an appropriate time to stop. To extend beyond that point is to risk leaving audiences privately wishing your performance would end so they could get on with other business, no matter how good you might think you are.

That time has come for me. My encore is finished. I choose to leave before I begin hearing boos instead of bravo. There may be smaller gigs that I can play from time to time, but no more long concert programs. There are younger professionals that must be given those opportunities.

It is no wonder so many Babyboomers are writing their own second acts or performing encores. The rewards—at least in terms of personal satisfaction—can be tremendous. We are retiring and finding ourselves in good health with a desire to do more, and give back.  We are fortunate to find jobs that combine personal meaning, provide continued income, and have potential for social impact. But we can’t let an encore career become another career!

What we can do is mentor, consult, and teach. In those ways, we can maintain our performance skills and realize continued value from our experience. But we also have to get out of the way and allow those younger to enjoy the limelight of the stage.

[1] work in the second half of life that combines continued income, greater meaning and social impact. These are paid positions often in public interest fields such as education, the environment, health, government sector, social services and other nonprofits.

1 comment:

  1. Merry Christmas Paul. I still hope to see you in April in Texas. I do understand about those second careers. We will be happy to also see more of you in Ohio speaking up for afterschool programming.

    F. Metcalf