After 50 Career Change-School Teacher to Manager
"How a School Teacher turned her love for Math and Science into an
After 50 Career Change to an Electronics In-House Sales Manager"
Explore Your Interests and Discover a Career Change...
Nancy had worked as a junior high math and science teacher long enough to qualify for a pension at age
62. But at age 53, she was frustrated with trying to do a quality job teaching.
The administration was pulling her one way and the parents the other. Teaching and the job no longer held the
fun and passion they had years earlier. After her summer break she hated going back to work in the fall.
After 50 Career Change by Working Various Jobs
Each summer she tried out various careers searching for something she could turn into a full time position.
Two summers ago she had worked as an inside order taker for a distributor of electronic switchgear. She
enjoyed the job but how could she turn it into a new career after 50?
Before the end of the summer she had a meeting with her supervisor. (Who managed three departments.) She wanted
to know what experience and education she needed to qualify for an inside sales position. She learned the
basic educational and experience requirements and verified that the inside sales
function was really an "orphan."
She had a friend who had an electrical engineering (EE) degree who agree to put together a basic EE self-study
course for her. They agreed to meet weekly and review her progress, answer her questions and lay out her study for
the next week. She started her study at the start of the school year.
In addition, she planned out a study course in sales management, adult education and corporate
business analysis and accounting.
Nancy also had occasion to meet others at a trade show working in inside sales with her
employer's competitors. They discussed customer service, employee turnover and employee training problems.
Informational Interviews Found Vital Career Information
After some research she found the names of several executives of high teck and electronic wholesalers.
Three agreed to short fifteen minute informational phone interviews.
From what Nancy learned on the job, discussions with her supervisor, other sales
personnel working at competitors, the results of her informational interviews and added
research she put it all together with recommendations to upgrade her seasonal employer's inside sales
function. (Nancy's secret weapon was her 85 year old father who used his executive experience to help her work
up return on investment projections.)
Her recommendations along with estimated returns on investment included:
- Redesign of the computer sales system to include alternative items if the ordered item was
out of stock or not immediately available.
- Install a formal upsell system, for example: if an item was ordered but if additional add
on items could save energy/money/time they could be suggested.
- Additional training of order takers to turn them into real sales
- Additional customer service and technical training.
- Add inside sales personnel to presentations and meetings with customers to build more solid
Shortly after Christmas Nancy secured a meeting with her former supervisor and the company's CEO. They were
impressed with her presentation, and even more impressed when they learned of her comprehensive self-study. She let
it be known that with her teaching background she would be ideal to conduct the required training.
After several more meetings, some with computer programmers to bring the ordering system up to meet her
recommendations, Nancy was offered the job of inside sales manager. She worked out the school year and
accepted the job and now after a year she is enjoying the challenges of her new career.
Summary of Nancy's Career Plan
Here's what we learned on Nancy's journey from junior high school teacher to a sales manager of a distributor of
electronic products and electric switchgear. She wrote out her career plan laying out each
1. To work in the field to get a feel for the career requirements.
2. Informational interviews to learn more about career requirements and issues.
3. Using her math and science background to develop a comprehensive course of study.
4. To leverage a friend's electronics education and experience to accelerate her study of
5. Took the risk to write a detailed report to company president, training and equipment
required and projected return on investment if her suggestions were implemented.
6. Continue to learn customers needs, evaluate and adjust as required.
Nancy made the transition for teaching to sales manager through a well thought out after 50 career
plan. She leveraged her teaching experience into defining her new position, the training of sales people,
building relationships with customers and most important finding a need and showing she was the one qualified to
fill the new position.