A workplace trend with a catchy name — “recareering” — is becoming more commonplace.
Led by baby boomers moving toward a nontraditional “working retirement” or younger workers displaced from corporate America, more professionals are embracing “encore careers.”
A 2008 article in U.S. News and World Report cited a survey by the MetLife Foundation and Civic Ventures, a San Francisco think tank, showing that as many as 8.4 million Americans between the ages of 44 and 70 have already launched second careers “in positions that combine income with personal meaning and social impact.”
Michael Bevis, director of academic affairs at University of Phoenix, sees students like this every day. Some want to enter the nonprofit sector. Others plan to open their own business. Still others are seeking to combine two careers simultaneously.
But most of them share a common trait.
“They’re seeking an education to pursue their passion,” Bevis says.
How do they do it? Two Lake Country residents who have launched successful second careers share their stories.
Since 1997, The Rev. Rosemarie Green has balanced two thriving — and on the surface, dramatically different — careers.
As director of clinical operations for a pharmaceutical company, Green leads projects that develop, test, obtain FDA approval and introduce new medications to the marketplace.
“These are being prescribed by doctors to help patients, which is very rewarding,” she says.
As an ordained minister and pastor of North Shore Faith Community Church in Gurnee, she delivers sermons, prepares lessons and empowers others in their faith.
“I provide spiritual medicine to God’s people,” she says.
Green says her careers aren’t that much different.
“They’re about helping people,” she says. “That’s the passion which undergirds both.”
A Georgia native, Green grew up in the church and was close to her granduncle, a preacher, whom she calls a kindred spirit.
While she believed she would always be active in the church, she never considered a career in the pulpit. She graduated from Purdue University School of Pharmacy, worked as a retail and hospital pharmacist and then moved into pharmaceutical research.
But as her professional responsibilities grew, so did her prayer life. While working with youth and leading Bible studies, Green says she became better attuned to God’s presence and began to feel a call toward a pastoral career.
“There’s a theologian that talks about being summoned by the hounds of heaven, and that’s how it was for me,” she says.
Green says God put people in her path to guide her, including members of her church, ministers and a supportive corporate manager who allowed her to take time off for a summer class to explore her new potential career.
In 1993, she entered Evanston’s Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, located on Northwestern University’s campus, but she continued her pharmaceutical career, completing class assignments while traveling the world on business.
She graduated in 1997 and served at an Evanston church, then founded North Shore Faith Community Church in 2009.
For financial reasons, as well as personal and professional fulfillment, Green has remained bi-vocational. She says the two rarely overlap and people in her office are aware of her ministry career.
“I get mixed reactions,” she says. “Sometimes it’s funny. I also have people come and talk to me. I meet other Christians. But I’m not here to be Rev. Green, just to do the best job I can.”
She also says her corporate skills help keep her ministry career running smoothly.
“Managing a team, following up, running meetings — these are all things I also do in ministry,” she says.
“I even had a [church] staff member comment once, ‘Why does everything have to be so corporate?’” she laughs.
A Healthy Change
After graduating from Ferris State University in Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in finance, Jenifer Green landed a dream job with the Franklin Templeton Financial Group, now Franklin Templeton Investments, as a global investment manager.
“I had great mentors and training,” Green says. “It was fascinating and challenging. I loved my career.”
But in the late 1990s, life took an unexpected turn. Green went through a divorce and, not long after, found herself in the hospital facing knee surgery.
“I started to question who I was and if I was doing something to make a difference,” she says.
Her hospital stay offered an interesting answer when she realized the importance of an excellent nurse.
“I started to see how much of a difference one person could make,” she says.
The healthcare field wasn’t foreign territory. Her father was a hospital administrator, and Green had served as a hospital volunteer in high school. As she considered a career change, she began to network with friends and associates in the healthcare field and took on volunteer work and job shadowing.
“Anything to get my foot in the door,” she says.
Yet, even after careful research, Green still felt some apprehension about making such a dramatic change. At the time, she was inspired by a quote.
“I read, ‘If you’re not taking risks, you are not really living,’” she says. “That gave me the nudge to go for it.”
She enrolled in a two-year nursing program at College of DuPage, which turned out to be more challenging than she expected.
“Even though I’d gone through college before, this time I had bigger responsibilities of a mortgage, a job and a life,” she says.
While in school, her social life and most other interests took a backseat, but she connected with a supportive group of fellow students, many of whom were transitioning from other careers.
“They understood the challenges I was going through and were my saving grace,” Green says.
She also had a supportive significant other, Fred Page.
“One of the things I told her was to take it one step at a time,” Page says. “Instead of thinking about the years it will take to finish, focus on the next test, the next assignment — otherwise it can be overwhelming.”
After graduating from COD in 2000, Green began her new career, but found one aspect frustrating.
“In business, I was used to having lots of responsibilities and making decisions,” she says. “In nursing, I had more of a subordinate role. But then I saw what nurse practitioners were doing, and decided that was where I needed to be.”
She enrolled in a three-year, full-time program at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and continued to work part-time as a nurse at a Naperville hospital.
Green says her biggest challenges were financial and logistical.
“It took a lot of time to commute from Naperville to downtown classes at Rush, then to clinical sites throughout the area,” she says.
Once again, a supportive network helped her weather the grueling schedule.
“People really need supportive family and friends, not just for emotional support, but to do little things that help them out, like running to the grocery store or taking their car in to get fixed,” Page says.
Today, as a nurse practitioner and stroke coordinator for Highland Park Hospital, part of NorthShore University HealthSystem, Green is part of a team that provides acute intervention to patients in the hospital and the emergency room who are experiencing stroke symptoms. Working with other departments, physicians and therapists, she reviews test results and makes sure that they follow guidelines from the American Heart Association.
“We assess whether they need intervention, then follow through with them,” she says. lc