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Encore careers take off

Post-retirement jobs are often personally and financially fulfilling

Freelance Writer

Published: Friday, February 18, 2011 1:06 AM EST

A new study by the Families and Work Institute, a New York City-based think tank, finds growing numbers of Americans age 50 and over are now in “encore” careers, jobs and businesses they’ve jumped into after they retired, were laid off or were fired.

According to the report, 75% of near-retirement-age workers expect to engage in some kind of post-retirement work – often in a business they’ll start themselves.

Making the jump into an encore or second-act career can be challenging, but the following Clevelanders show it can also be hugely rewarding – both personally and fiscally

From the ACLU to acting

When Shlomoh Sherman, 73, was laid off from his job in 2000 as an ACLU computer programmer in New York City, he got a part-time job and took classes in what he knew he wanted to do for the rest of his life: stand-up comedy and acting.

He got a reality check from one of his teachers, he recalls. “The instructor told the class not to wait till they were 65 to try to break in to comedy. When I held up my hand to tell him I was 66, he apologized, but more importantly, he later became my comedy coach.’

Coaching and workshops – covering everything from comedic timing to on-camera acting – paid off. He did his first paid stand-up comedy act in late 2003 and the next year was doing a local cable comedy show with a fellow actor that aired in New Jersey and New York. Soon he started getting work as an extra in New York City-based shows, including “Sex and the City,’ “Law & Order,’ and “The Sopranos.’

Getting gigs requires relentless research, face-to-face networking, and traveling to auditions, says Sherman, who now lives in Euclid. It also helps if you look the part. “A lot of times I know I´ve done a good read, but I didn´t get the part,’ he explains. “They had a specific look in mind.’

Sherman admits his post-retirement career isn´t what he thought it would be – he´s not doing as much stand-up comedy as he´d like – but it comes close. “I started acting when most people are thinking about retiring, so when a director likes what I´ve done or an audience laughs at my routine, it really fulfills something inside me.’

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