I ran across a recent interview Manilow did with AP: Barry Manilow embraces technology. Watch it. The basic premise is Manilow believes the only reason he is still around is because he has been willing to embrace change.
Well, folks, I can humbly say that most likely the only reason I was able to make a strong comeback into a career after taking over a decade off to raise my boys is because I did the same thing. I adapted.
In 2012, I had to come to terms with the fact that inflation was rising faster than my husband's DOD "cost of living increases" (in scare quotes because the government's impression of inflation is ridiculous). Yet, my boys were not quite old enough for me to be away at an office all day. What to do? I had done freelance work back in college (as a cartographer) and again between jobs in the early 1990s (for Southern California Edison and Fischer-Watt Gold Exploration). I do well as a freelancer, and that kind of setup is conducive to being at home when my kids need me. As my own boss, I make my own schedule and choose my own assignments.
But, what work should I do as a freelancer? Certainly, cartography was out of the question. America made the switch from hand-drawn maps (my forté) to Geographic Information Systems during my senior year of college. Whereas I was able to afford all my own drafting equipment back in the 1980s, buying a GIS was out of the question. I had to get creative. I had done a lot of editing when I was the Desktop Course Manager at ESRI. It was just one of those acquired job skills (made a bit easier as a result of majoring in English at Cal Poly). I decided to take a course in copyediting to test the waters. I figured a $100 investment would be a wise choice to help me ascertain if editing was truly in my blood.
I took that introductory class online through the University of New Hampshire and discovered that I do bleed grammar, punctuation, and syntax. The next step was jumping in the deep end by enrolling in a copyediting certificate program at UCSD. I loved it. And, I loved my instructors. I'm still friends with two of them. I stole my Twitter handle (@EditorMelinda) from Mark Allen (@EditorMark). And, Lourdes Venard has become my mentor and champion. She handed me my beloved position as a freelancer for TNQ on a silver platter. Jobs dropping in my lap--Life doesn't get better than that!
Now, being creative also involves figuring out how this little fish can make my own big splash apart from all the zillions of other little fishies in the sea of job hunters. It was a pretty easy angle to come up with actually. I just chose to focus on editing works that would enable me to use those 25 years of science, technology, and medicine training and experience. Aside from the obvious (cartography, GIS, and geology), in those early years of GIS, I had to learn how to program in various languages and to maintain a number of ancient computer systems (e.g., Primos Mini or Sun SPARC workstation). I'm not sure how things are now, but in ancient history when I was doing GIS analysis, there wasn't enough cash being thrown at the GIS department (AKA Melinda) to afford a system administrator. Add to that, I received extensive medical training for my position as a volunteer firefighter back in the early 1990s. I also trained and worked as a part-time veterinary technician in the late 2000s. There's more, but you get the idea.
If you get the chance sometime, take a listen to an interview with Catherine Austin Fitts (she writes the Solari Report). She believes there is opportunity in today's job market if one is creative. You have to wiggle into your own niche, often creating something new and fresh. And, most importantly, you have to adapt. If not, you will wither away like that bass player whose name no one remembers.