You have 30, 40, or 50 years in the industry. You are ready to retire, but, you are not ready to go home just yet. You feel like you have so much to offer future generations. You think to yourself, “All of this institutional knowledge can’t go to waste. I mean, somebody needs it. Right?” Well, the answer is—and I say emphatically, “Right!” Who better to continue to serve the industry and how it has evolved with the insight and talent to assist in the adaptation of future technologies than YOU! The retired professional who desires to ‘give back.’ Why? Not only does the industry need you, the next generation does as well.
One of the challenges that education program administrators face is the shortage of technical talent with the ability to disseminate the information where learners can grasp the concepts stated in the learning objectives of the course. Most professionals don’t know where to begin. Well, it begins with your desire. Your desire to give back. Is that all? Yes. Does this mean you’ll be good or great at it? No. Can someone help you become great and fulfill your next steps? Yes!
One research study showed that there are four primary struggles identified by participants who were making the transition from practitioner to professor. They struggle with role, self, cultural and future. Making the transition is not always easy. These struggles can lead to very real feelings of inadequacy. They can leave a person questioning whether this is right for them as they may feel like an impostor in the academy with colleagues who have been around their entire career. The cultural shift can be shocking and they wonder should they even continue on this path?
Yes, yes, and yes! Your students are just like you. Quite frankly, you may have even been your student! They are adults who are employed. They have families and prior learning experiences both formal and informal. They have interests and most of all, they have goals. YOU can help them fulfill those goals by sharing your wealth of knowledge and experience as an industry professional.
How do you find such an organization that can help put you on the journey from Industry to Instructor or Professional to Professor? Your local 2 and 4-year colleges and technical schools, training organizations and membership associations who provide training opportunities to various industries. A good program administrator will provide you with a supportive environment that is inclusive and informational. Instructor meetings, focus groups, pairing with a peer, professional development and continual support that keep you connected to the organization.
As your career comes to a close, I am sure you are asking yourself what’s next? If it’s not the golf course, social clubs or traveling the world, seek out an opportunity to share what you know with the next generation of the workforce. Your gifts and talents paired with practical and real-world approaches are priceless to the industry and your successors!
Casandra Blassingame, MEd, is the Chief Executive Officer of the International Association of Continuing Education and Training (IACET). She is a recognized leader in adult and continuing education and has over 20 years of experience in higher education, continuing and professional studies, and workforce development. Prior to joining IACET as CEO, Casandra was the Vice President of Education Services for the American Gear Manufacturers Association where she led the organization’s effort in achieving and maintaining IACET accreditation. She has also served as an IACET commissioner, reviewing dozens of applications, and an IACET Board Member.