Thinking About The Future
No, I’m not bothering to comment on the Republican race for President, as Romney is pretty dull.
Instead, let me speak briefly about the future. I’m 30. I’ve been in my current profession for more than 9 years already, and just recently took a promotion as quality manager. I honestly didn’t expect to get so comfortable as to get this far in one place. But now that I have, I need to begin laying the groundwork for what lies ahead.
I’m not talking about saving for retirement (I’m not that old!), nor about mortgages (in DC, it’d be prohibitively expensive or a prohibitively far commute). While I can begin to make some financial plans in earnest, I like having a cushion of liquid savings to play with, so I’ll put off that discussion for another day.
Instead, I’m thinking about how I can best prepare for my next job. Is it a supervisory position? Is it a job with a new employer?
Being a supervisor requires skill, but aside from the HR paperwork I am not sure I need to know more.
Instead, the preparation I’m doing now is for a new employer. The Funds, my employer, has a rapidly declining health-plan population and a slowly declining pension population, trends that will only accelerate in the years ahead. While its workforce is also similarly aged and thus could shrink just on attrition, there will reach a point, perhaps before the decade is out, when I may need to be thinking ahead.
So what can someone with highly specialized skills in pension processing and an underused skill set in political management do for a second act?
Fortunately, my current position lends itself to branching out. Quality assurance (QA) is a skill that many employers need, regardless of subject-matter expertise. So the more I can do to build on QA practices will not only enhance my daily work performance but improve my flexibility for new work.
Beyond that, I’m doubling down on my pension expertise by pursing a professional certification in that field, called Retirement Plans Associate (RPA), which is a subset of the more well-known Certified Employee Benefits Specialist. The RPA certification requires passing 3 tests, covering a multitude of rules and regulations on retirement benefits, from IRAs to defined benefit plans. I passed the 1st test last month, and have begun studying for the second test.
What else can I do? It may seem silly to mention, but there is a method to my madness regarding my screenwriting “career.” Yes, it’s primarily a hobby and may end up paying no better than my novel writing or my extended practice in speechwriting. But all these are more creative and more in line with my truer passion than the more number-cruncher work I’m used to and don’t mind doing.
If I can do well in all of these, I will be adding to my career options even as I quietly sock away more savings to prepare for that rainy day that may inevitably come.
I think I’m on the right track, in thinking about the future. How about you?