Activating the best of you!

New career column: Tech engineer is dreaming of non-profit jobs


I’d like to introduce myself. I am Joan Tabb, the new Press Democrat career advice blogger.
I am founder and principal of Great in 8 Coaching, now based here in Santa Rosa. My professional focus is on empowering people forward in their careers. I transitioned to this work after 20+ years in management for Apple, 3Com and Memorex, and marketing leadership for several start-ups. It is so gratifying to help people develop the self awareness, insights, strategies, skills and market knowledge and connections to drive their careers forward with purpose and alignment. I’ve helped hundreds of people to advance, transition,launch and re-launch their careers. And I look forward to sharing my knowledge with you.

My goal with this column is to help to empower you your work life! And I plan on doing that by using the questions you write in to me as the basis for our discussion. Your questions can range from day to day job issues to broader career planning topics.

Please send your questions to:  [email protected]

And here comes our first question: 


Dear Coach Joan,

I have just accepted an early retirement package after 25 years as an engineer in a high tech company.

I enjoyed my work but always daydreamed of doing outdoor work, immersing myself in nature and playing a role in preserving our environment. I have been a lifelong birder. I am 55 years old, in good health, my wife continues to work and our kids are grown and on their own. I can afford to take a pay cut but still need to have an income. Is this ‘daydream’ a flight of fancy or something I should really consider?

I value your thoughts on this.

Brian the bird loving engineer

Dear Brian,

What would the world be without our daydreams! Some of the best inventions, innovative ideas and remarkable people have started with their dreams!

But does that mean to throw caution to the wind and look to hug trees for a living??? Not necessarily.

I’ve had several clients in your situation and the prudent thing to do is to make a transition and exploration plan.

Identify the key values and work style preferences that drive you. Reflect on the actual skills and strengths you bring to a work environment.

Then begin your research. Look for organizations that support the outdoors and the environment. Set up informational interviews with staff members there. Informational interviews are typically 30 min sessions where you ask to get the inside scoop on a job or profession. You are not there to ask for a job. You are to prepare some thoughtful questions so you can learn more about what it’s really like to do a job for an organization you are attracted to. Also, assess what your financial income needs will be. Perhaps you might set up a lifestyle where you work part time as an engineer and part time as a volunteer, outdoors, supporting a cause you love. Brian, this is the time for careful planning, exploration and discovery.

It is often the time people come to see a coach to help build and execute on a transition plan that includes accountability and structure. Most folks need that.

Good luck and may your dreams take flight!

Coach Joan

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