My hub and I have just become "micro" workers at a large university. I say "micro" since we are each committing small amounts of time for what amounts to micro pay.
In his case, it is a 1/4 time position at a pay grade miles below his last full-time salary. In brief, he will be netting less than 1/10th of his former pay to give them 1/4 of his time during the coming year -- all of course with no benefits.
But hey, it's a job. A nice job, in fact, doing something he finds truly neat, bringing business world methods to academic R&D. So it will keep his resume current while doing some good on both sides.
In my case, the pay is more psychic. I have a nice title, a tiny stipend, and a lot of leeway to shape my flex-time role in a campus lab doing brain science. Technically, I am not a real employee; I have a time-limited fellowship sponsored by an outside entity.
In business, we would call me a consultant. But "senior fellow" will sound nice on my resume too; and like the hub, I have a smalll quixotic hope it might aid in some way with some real pay some day as well. But if not, at least I will learn some interesting things about current-day neuroscience while helping them to communicate.
That may be as win-win as it gets in this frozen economy.
Joining a Wave
We each got our gigs on the same campus at the same time via different routes. He was recruited after judging in a national science fair that put him on the radar at the School of Engineering. I applied for my mine in response to a flyer found on a table after a lecture, and wound up being one of four people picked for a cross-disciplinary program in Psych.
That our offers came around the same time seemed completely coincidental. We did not know when we accepted these posts that we were joining a new wave that already had a name. But, in fact, we are part of a new surge of "Encore" workers filled with Boomers extending careers with new kinds of employment.
Typically, an encore position entails enticing a retiree back into the workforce while gaining the added skills of a veteran worker. But in practical terms, you don't need to be past your 50s. You just need a good chunk of flexible time and a well-seasoned resume with skills that are relevant to the employer.
For a lot of us these days, part about flexible time is no longer an issue.
A potentially win-win tradeoff
I have to admit that taking an Encore post sure seems more constructive than to keep web-surfing the same scarce opportunities being avidly sought by hordes of job-seeking youngers who still have small mouths to feed. If you are, instead, in a phase where the kids are grown and you own your home, you might (in theory) be more willing to accept a fairly low wage if the job is sufficiently interesting.
Not that every such opportunity involves a trade-off between personal interest and personal income. Some Encore opportunites (details below) involve "real" jobs with "real" pay for companies who are increasingly more willing to value seasoned workers for the added dimensions they bring.
How refreshing for all the workforce vets who felt they had been set adrift long before it was time to go fishing.
If you would like to learn more about it, below is some detail about the more active players in this new wave of later life employment.
One of the more active entities in this new wave can be seen at yourencore.com. It represents a network of "retired and veteran" experts who are "providing our clients with proven experience." In their model, the veteran -- or "Expert" -- plugs in at a client company "without the long-term commitment of a full-time employee." Their current matchmaking projects seem to be mostly for scientists in chemistry and biotech, but they also list disciplines such as mechnical engineering, packaging, product design and organization development at the web site. The encore assignments can be as short as one day, or as long as one year, they say. Partner companies include Proctor & Gamble, Eli Lilly, Boeing, and General Mills. Enrollment details can be read here.
Civic Ventures & Encore.Org
Meanwhile, this page at the Encore site has a wealth of information and links related to the Civic Ventures intiative.
If this movement is of interest to you, you might also enjoy this look at parallel efforts back East as profiled in the Boston Globe, and this information from the first Encore Careers Summit last February, as well as this Smart Money article on "Switching Careers at 50" that takes a look at what it takes to live on less in later life.
Me, I am going to spend my Saturday night on the sofa muching a tuna sandwich while I feed my head with a stack of unread research articles.