It’s not surprising that a woman who has spent a lifetime mastering the “encore” career should be reinventing herself, yet again, as one of the behind-the-scenes supporters of Symphonia, Boca Raton’s world-class classical music orchestra.
While many people see retirement as a time to slow down, Boca Raton resident Susan Kaye keeps busy by finding new interests and tackling new challenges.
For years, Susan worked and traveled while managing her family’s business, then switched gears to start her first “encore” career on behalf of the Guardian ad Litem program, which protects and advocates for children in the court system.
She then went on to establish the Emergency Medical Technician program for Barry University as a second “encore” engagement, and is now working on her third curtain call serving on the Board of Director of Boca Raton’s Symphonia, focusing on marketing and advertising.
The Symphonia offers a professional classical music program featuring nationally and internationally acclaimed conductors and soloists, and also sponsors educational outreach programs in the local community.
While Susan has always been a strong supporter of the arts, a hands-on position with the orchestra didn’t seem like an obvious fit for her. She didn’t have much of a formal background in classical music. But what she did have was a great set of networking and organizational skills, and a desire to pitch in and help the organization, which had so impressed her with the quality of its music, its innovative programming and artistry, and its support of community and children’s programs.
For Susan, it was yet another welcome opportunity to reinvent herself professionally. Although her work with the Symphonia is on a volunteer basis, she still doesn’t really consider herself “retired.” She says she likes to be busy, and sees her current engagement as a “pro bono job.” While she can accomplish much of her marketing and strategic planning work out of the office, she does go in for meetings. In fact, one of the fringe benefits of her position is the interaction with the other talented and creative people who are also involved with Symphonia.
Expert tips on embarking on a satisfying “encore career”
Whether you’re exploring a paying career or just looking for volunteer opportunities in retirement, take a tip from Susan, who’s an expert on the subject.
She recommends keeping an eye out for an opening that truly matches your interests and skill set. A good place to find volunteer opportunities is on the Volunteer Florida site. Just type in your areas of interest to get a list of possible matches.
Or, for nationwide openings, check out the volunteer matching services at the Get Involved website. Don’t volunteer just to have something to do. Make sure the work really appeals to you, is a good match for your skill set, and gives you personal satisfaction.
If you’re looking for a paying position, you’re in good company. According to AARP, one-third of people 65 to 69 are in the labor force, more than in prior years, as extended and encore careers become the norm rather than the exception.
Don’t stop growing
Susan is so busy with her work with the Symphonia, as well as other interests, that she doesn’t have the time to consider herself “retired.”
Like many other Palm Beach residents, she’s a fan of the Lifelong Learning programs at Florida Atlantic University (FAU), which provide a wide range of stimulating programs and offer a great way to meet new people.
Like many other people of retirement age today, Susan’s found a way to give back to the community, all while staying engaged in a challenging and fulfilling new field.
“If you stop growing, you give up,” she says.