Q: I'm a 43-year-old who's totally tired of the physical and mental strain of being a fire sprinkler installer. The company I work for is disorganized and slow to communicate. I will not go into the different ways this employer is messed up, but my patience has worn thin. I am presently volunteering as a baseball coach for an inner-city team. I know in my heart that working with kids is what I am meant to do. How can I turn my passion into a career? - Paul
J.T.: If your heart tells you that working with young people is your calling, then take that insight to the next level. Have you ever considered putting together an evening program for young people that they would pay to attend? This would give you some additional experience with kids and an opportunity to make a small income from it. It could lead to a referral for a job, or maybe even grow into a full-time business. And, it also would let you try out the career before you commit to it fully.
Dale: I know what you're thinking, Paul, about J.T.'s last sentence - that you've tried it out, and you love it! But one reason you love it is that it isn't work. There's no boss, no paperwork or oversight; there are no employer problems because there's no employer. What J.T. is trying to get you to do is test your love and see if the joy of teaching will outweigh all the nonteaching chores that go with such a job.
J.T.: Another approach is if coaching and teaching are in your blood, I also would suggest looking into becoming a trainer within the construction trades.
Tech schools could use someone with your experience to help them develop their students. This would further develop your coaching resume and would help open more doors to job opportunities.
Dale: Perfect. I once met a man who owned a motorcycle repair shop and was so frustrated about finding good help that he started a school for motorcycle mechanics, which soon was worth far more than his original business. That's the career arabesque that we wish for everyone who wants something new: Take your existing knowledge and contacts, and transform them into a new career, crossing over to a new field rather than starting over.
- Jeanine "J.T." Tanner O'Donnell is a professional development specialist and founder of the consulting firm jtodonnell.com. Dale Dauten's latest book is "(Great) Employees Only: How Gifted Bosses Hire and De-Hire Their Way to Success"