Starting a new career in your 40s or 50s is no longer unusual, but it does require looking at things differently than you may have in your 20s when you began searching for your first career. With fewer working years ahead of you, is it worth the time and money to invest in starting something brand new? This is the question business executive Lauren Cope asked herself when she began to explore an encore career as a business coach.
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Ready for a New Challenge
Cope is Vice President of Business Development for Engineering Matters, a small business she runs with her husband. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from UMass Boston and a background in sales. With her youngest child preparing to leave home for college, Cope describes herself as feeling ready for a new challenge, anticipating the extra time she will soon have on her hands.
“I love sales and I love helping people,” Cope says. She wanted to put those interests to work and thought about consulting for small businesses. But after reading some books on business and life coaching, she was inspired to go in a different direction. Cope believes in “bringing out the wisdom a person already possesses to help them find their own solutions [to their problems] and empowering them to make productive changes.” The idea of coaching rather than consulting resonated with her passions and her leadership style.
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A Useful Education
To learn more about becoming a coach, Cope searched the web for business and life coaches. She studied their websites and looked at their backgrounds and credentials. Although some had advanced degrees, it wasn’t a job requirement, and Cope was concerned that the return on her investment for going back to college might not be enough to justify the expense.
Her research eventually led her to seek out coaching schools with industry accreditation. Along with reputation and price as top factors, she chose a school offering teleclass courses that connected students from around the country. “It was a good way to put my toe in the water,” Cope says. She will be a certified coach at the end of her training and then, if she decides more education is necessary, she will consider it again in the future. Cope also plans to stay on as VP of her engineering company while adding the title of Business and Life Coach to her résumé.
[A degree might be closer than you think. Learn how to get college credit for your experiences.]
Love What You Do
What advice would she give to others looking for new challenges in their their lives? Cope recommends researching jobs and their requirements, as she did. Find people who are doing what you want to do, and take note of their backgrounds—what education do they have and what routes did they take to get where they are?
[Find free online courses to get you on track for a future goal.]
Of course, hiring a personal coach can also help you come to a decision. “Hiring a coach is a great way to consider all your options, find your passion, and turn it into a job,” Cope says. “Research shows that if you do something you love, you will make money because people will be drawn to you. But in the end, it can’t be just about money,” Cope says—you have to love what you do for it to benefit everybody.