Starting a New Career at 55

by Nancy Shishik, RPh • Member { View Profile }


My corporation helped me make a decision that I was contemplating for a year: when to retire. I reached the golden age of 55 and wondered, is working for one corporation, in one industry what I want on my headstone? Twenty-five years doing the same thing was long enough. But when I logged onto the company’s HR  website, to request retirement paperwork, I could never push the “submit” button.

Well my company had no problem pushing buttons. One day I got a call to tell me that my position was eliminated. They gave me a retirement package I couldn’t refuse, in a phone call, in an instant with absolutely no warning. I went through all of the emotions: anger, pity, nausea and denial. This Fortune 500 Company will not last a month without me. For the record they are doing just fine.

Now what? I am 55 years young, have worked my entire life and have a half a million dollars invested in business suits and high heels.

Everyone always dreams of having a second to spare when you work 12 to 15 hours a day. Now I have thousands of seconds to spare. What to do first? Travel, shop, rearrange a closet. I was thinking of all of the possibilities. Then it hit me. This was the opportunity I’d been waiting for. In less than a week the emotions subsided and I sprang to this new life quicker than it was taken from me.

I left in a week for a 2 week trip to Japan and never once thought of memos I needed to get out nor the spreadsheets I needed to create, or the expenses I needed to submit. 

The lengthy business plan I was laboring over was left unfinished; once printed, I used the reverse side to jot down things I was going to do on my trip. Essentially the business plan intended for one of the VPs was reduced to scrap paper.

When I returned home, from Japan, I had a new PC on my desk with my very first noncorporate personal e-mail it read:

Mom, I have made you Talent Acquisition Specialist for my company. I was just in the process to post this position and I cannot think of anyone better than you to find candidates for my recruiting business. Your e mail address is Call me at your earliest convenience to discuss the particulars. I need your talent immediately hope you had a great vacation in Japan.

Love, Serge, your son,  AKA your  new boss

So needless to say my 2 weeks of retirement was long enough. I became a voice to people seeking opportunities. I phone interviewed 4 hours a day got my son’s company going gangbusters and passed the baton to my son in law, Chris

I moved from the Adirondack’s to my boyfriend’s apartment in Manhattan for the winter. I took on another job that became my passion, more so than any other job I held. I became a bridal consultant in the largest salon in the world, Kleinfeld’s, in NYC. From the very first day I walked into the Salon I felt I was in my element, fashion, elegance, happy customers and a TLC TV Show: SAY YES TO THE DRESS, all under one roof. My suits reemerged along with my heels and the makeup I always longed to wear but couldn’t in corporate America, along with great big earrings, were not a corporate no no. It was actually encouraged to be as stylish as possible. Hoorah!

I connected to my brides and their family members in all different ways. The mom’s loved the fact that I had the opportunity to “restart” at an early age and do such a fun job. I worked 3 days a week and enjoyed dressing the part and having the opportunity to be in front of a TV camera.

My summer reinvention:

My summer’s take me up North to my home in the Adirondack’s where I joined a Master’s Rowing Club with other 50 something ladies, and am in training 5 days a week @ 6:00 AM. I will be competing in the National’s in August, in Camden,NJ.

I, too, am doing all of the things around my home that I longed to do, like gardening. I no longer have a lawn boy; I mow my own lawn, wash my own car. I painted the antique chairs that have been sitting in my garage for 7 years and quit my gym; no need for that sort of exercise.

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