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Broaden Your Job Search Horizons: Midlife Career Change


Midlife career change is not easy, but it can be done. Four members of the Financial Women Association have successfully transitioned from the corporate sector to nonprofit and government jobs. Here’s how.

Affiche pour le "Papier à cigarettes Job"., Digital ID 118512, New York Public LibraryOn Wednesday, May 16, 2012, the Not-for-Profit Committee of the Financial Women Association of New York (FWA) Educational Fund presented “Broaden Your Job Search Horizons-Tips on Transitioning to the Public Sector” hosted by SITI Corporation.

The four members of FWA , Betsy Werley, Elaine A. Kloss, Doris Simmons-Brown and Mary Ann Grossman, discussed their job search strategies and presented practical and effective tips which are summarized as follows:

  • Job search strategy: Networking is important. Try utilizing the contacts you’ve acquired throughout the years in the workplace and people you have known for a long time. Join professional associations, use social networking sites such as LinkedIn and volunteer for your favorite cause including environmental protection, community development and overcoming poverty.

Job search on the Internet is also effective. One of the panelists suggested to include two main paragraphs in the cover letter when applying for a job in the nonprofit sector. One paragraph presents an instant in your life that inspired you into this kind of profession and another paragraph highlights your job skills, transferable skills and professional credentials.

  • Job skills and credentials: Find out what kind of job skills and transferable skills you have for the new career and what kind of professional development may enhance your competency as a new professional. Professional certifications are increasingly important in the workplace as they increase credibility, enhance professional image, demonstrate professional knowledge and enrich self esteem.

For example, the FWA panelists made their career change with appropriate credentials. Betsy Werley took courses in nonprofit technology and fundraising at New York University before making the transition. Mary Ann Grossman prepared for the move with the CFRE (Certified Fund Raising Executive) certificate. Doris Simmons-Brown holds several professional certifications.

  • Do what you love: Self-exploration is essential in choosing a satisfying career. Find out what you enjoy doing or the kind of work that you feel passionate about. Do what you love will unleash the power of creativity, enhance promblem solving skills, increase job satisfaction and make life meaningful.

Please note that the Job Search Central blog, Resources for Choosing a Satisfying Career, will help you with self-exploration and occupational information.

Brief bios of the FWA panelists:

Mary Ann Grossman has a corporate background that includes working at Citigroup as a business development officer and at Standard & Poor’s as the National Business Development Manager. For the past ten years, she has directed private fundraising, community outreach and public relations for New York nonprofits. Most recently, she served as Executive Director of Career Gear.

Mary is a graduate of the University of Pittsburg, majoring in psychology and English, she holds a Master's degree from Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs, and the Harriman Institute, where she was a Ford Fellow. She holds a CFRE (Certified Fundraising Executive) certificate.

Elaine Kloss, the Treasurer of the City of New York, is responsible for the City’s treasury operations. She leads a treasury staff of 32.

Prior to joining the NYC Department of Finance in 2010, Elaine held various treasury and financial executive positions at a vast range of companies in the New York area and in Australia. She began her career at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in Washington, D.C.

Elaine has a B.S. degree in economics from Alliance College and an M.A. degree in Economics from Georgetown University.

Doris Simmons-Brown, transitioned from the private sector to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in 2009 to develop the Bank’s Business Process Excellence (BPE) program.

Prior to joining the Fed, Doris served as Vice-President, Operations Executive at JPMorgan Chase; National Account Executive at AT&T; and Circulation Manager for Telecommunications Report and MacRae’s Blue Book.

Doris has an MBA from NYU, holds several professional certifications and serves on the board of a non-profit civic association.

Betsy Werley is Executive Director of The Transition Network which is an inclusive community of professional women over 50 exploring “what’s next” in their personal and professional lives.

Prior to working in the non-profit sector, Betsy spent 25 years in the for-profit sector as a corporate lawyer and business executive at JPMorgan Chase.

Betsy received a JD from the University of Chicago Law School and a BA in History and English (Phi Beta Kappa) from Duke University.

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