After roughly three decades in a career, Eric Vogelsang, director of the Center on Aging at California State University, San Bernardino, says many Gen Xers might have a sense that, if they’re going to make a change, it’s now or never. “Thirty years [in the workforce] is a long time,” he says. “And I think part of it might be that they see this as a final chance to do it.”
That was the case for Rosenmiller, whose transition to nursing was the fulfilment of a 30-year-old life goal. “When I was in college, I was pre-med at the beginning,” she says. “Then I took pottery courses and loved it and ended up transferring to art school. This was sort of a return: I’ve always loved medicine, and this is a full circle kind of thing.”
Rosenmiller felt that by entering the field at 50, she’d be giving herself a good number of years to ensure her new degree was worthwhile. “I’m hoping I can work for a while to make use of this,” she says. “I’m hoping I can work into my late 60s, if not 70s.”
Similarly, in New Jersey, US, Jeremy Puglisi has also taken this moment in his life to chase a dream. After more than 20 years as a high school English teacher, he resigned to make his hobby a full-time job.
While still teaching, he and wife, Stephanie Puglisi, started a podcast about camping called The RV Atlas. Unexpectedly, it took off, and the pair secured a contract to write a book. “It was just one of those stories where our side hustle became more profitable than our day jobs,” says Puglisi. “In February of 2020, literally a few weeks before the pandemic, I told my principal I was going to finish the school year, but that I wouldn’t be coming back the next year.”
For Puglisi, the change wasn’t seamless. A few weeks after he gave his notice, the RV manufacturers and businesses that supported the podcast shut down, and “it felt like the worst timing on planet Earth”, says Puglisi. “I was waking up at night sweating. I thought, ‘how embarrassing, I’m going to have to go and beg for my teaching job back’.” When a major sponsor called to cancel their contract, “I felt like my entire world was crumbling”.
Luckily, the fear was short lived. Things turned around as people began road tripping and camping in record numbers during the pandemic. “I thought I had nightmare timing on leaving my teaching career and it was a month of real uncertainty,” says Puglisi. “Then it felt sort of like this fortuitous, perfect timing, and we were busier than we have ever been.”
The couple has now published multiple well-performing books, but Puglisi says it took a while to feel like his career pivot was validated in the eyes of family and friends. “I think pretty much everybody looked at me like I was crazy when I said I was quitting a stable and successful teaching career,” he says. “To be 43, and all of a sudden say, ‘OK, now I’m a podcaster’… it almost sounds like make believe.”