How To Perfect Your Next Act

Even the most beloved career might not last forever. When the curtain came down on their original choices, these Volusia County residents decided it was time to open their career’s Second Act. 

An Entrepreneur is Born

Jeremy Craig of Ormond Beach had worked as a basketball coach for a small college in Georgia, but because of the low pay and travel involved, he knew it wasn’t going to be a long-term career. When he and his wife Jenni moved to Ormond Beach so she could take a job at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, he found himself selling computer software.

A two-week vacation to Italy proved to be the turning point. “About a week into our trip, we found out my wife was expecting our first child. The next day, I tried to log into my work email and couldn’t get in. They had sold the company while I was on vacation.”

Craig’s father and two grandfathers had worked in the beer industry, and he’d considered getting into the burgeoning craft beer market. “When I realized I’d been laid off, I said, let’s do it!” They spent the last week of the vacation writing out a business plan on cocktail napkins, and once they were back stateside, they started looking for a good business location. They found one in an old laundromat in Holly Hill.

It took two years of planning and getting the necessary permits, but the Copper Bottom Craft Distillery at 998 N. Beach Street is now open for business. It’s a family business owned by Jeremy, his wife, and his parents. He spends his time creating small batches of unique beverages and giving free tours of the place.

“I’m loving every minute of it,” he says. “Getting laid off was the best thing that ever happened to me.”

His advice to those who want to—or might someday need to—break into another field? Save as much money as possible. “Live off one income if you can, so when an opportunity comes along, you’ll be ready.”

From Non-Profit to Real Estate

After 20 years as the Executive Director of Family Renew Community—a local non-profit agency that helps Volusia County’s homeless families—Claris Mac’Kie felt it was time to retire. But she says, “I knew I would want to be involved in something.”

She spent a year relaxing and then realized she’d need more money if she was going to remodel her home or travel—things she said were “not included in my budget.”

At age 80, Mac’Kie did something people had always encouraged her to do: She became a real estate agent. After she passed a challenging licensing exam with flying colors, she signed on with Adams, Cameron & Co. Realtors. She has yet to make a big sale—and that doesn’t bother her at all. “I’ve never rushed into things,” she said. “I want to feel 100 percent capable first.”

Mac’Kie encourages people to stay active throughout life. “Even if you retire with enough money to live on, you still need social interaction,” she says. “Your brain and body need exercise.”

Many Choose Second Careers

Robin King, president and CEO of CareerSource Volusia/Flagler, said second careers are not uncommon. Some clients come to CareerSource looking for help after losing their jobs, but about 20 percent of the people who seek her agency’s services are employed. “They just want something better.”

She said many adults choose careers where they’ll earn enough money to raise their families and put the kids through college—and they stay, even after they realize that career isn’t a perfect fit. Then the kids grow up, and “When that responsibility is lifted, they want to do something that has more purpose for them.”

CareerSource uses various assessments to help those looking for second careers figure out what kinds of jobs they might love. Their services are free. The federally funded agency can even sometimes help pay for retraining in a second field, especially for veterans or people with disabilities.

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A Career in Caring

Going back to school led Desirae Gilmore to her perfect job. She’d spent many years of working in banking services, but began spending her free time helping her aging grandparents as they coped with Alzheimer’s disease and vision and mobility issues.

That’s where she first discovered Occupational Therapy. While describing to a rehabilitation specialist how she had worked out ways for her grandmother to cook and get around her house, the specialist asked, “Oh, are you an OT?”

“And I said, ‘What’s that?’”

Occupational Therapy, like the closely related Physical Therapy, includes helping clients whose abilities are limited by illness or accident to learn work-arounds, so they can still do the things they love. To work in this field requires creativity, patience—and two years of specific classroom and field training, followed by a national certification exam.

Gilmore, who had returned to school to earn a business-related degree, switched gears and completed Daytona State College’s Occupational Therapy Assistant program. She sailed through the certification and licensing processes, and then started working as an occupational therapy assistant at Halifax Health/Brooks Rehabilitation Center for Inpatient Rehabilitation.

But then the hospital gave her an opportunity that would merge both her skill sets, using the attention to detail she had acquired in banking and the insights she’d gleaned from occupational therapy training. She became the rehabilitation facility’s coordinator for inpatient assessments. Now she reviews documents to meet Medicare requirements and also serves as part of a team that tracks how much progress patients make during their rehabilitation stays.

She says she enjoys the teamwork and variety her new position offers. “My ultimate goal is to help people,” Gilmore says. “The analytical part of my job comes from banking, and the heart comes from OT.”

Whether you need to make the leap into entrepreneurship, return to school, or find a spot that synthesizes everything you’ve learned in life … a new career might be just the ticket to your own Second Act.