By Brenda Johnson, Work, Careers and Job @40+.
The Noblesville resident, Sandra Hunt is a wife, mother, grandmother, First Lady of her church, recent early-retiree and a woman beginning a new career. Her advice to those still working is to “take ownership of your career.” It is a motto she has followed during her days in corporate America working for Hewlett-Packard. “I volunteered for projects, did extra assignments and became recognized by others,” says Hunt. That recognition, she explained, led to opportunities because people remembered her.
“I began working as a youth counselor when I was thirteen, so I developed my work ethic early”, explained Hunt. One of the other early lessons that shaped her life was a focus on education. “Growing up in the South, my Dad instilled that education was a way to reach your goals,” she said. After pursuing a Master’s Degree, Hunt decided to earn a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership which she said “kept her brain cells alive.” She always wanted to teach and incorporated it into her corporate career whenever possible. At New Life Community Church in Indianapolis where her husband, Andrew Hunt III, M. Div., serves as Senior Pastor, she is the Director of Christian Education.
After retiring early, she reinvented her career and began teaching at Ivy Tech Community College. “I love how Ivy Tech reaches out to the community,” said Hunt. Her position is more than a job and more of a calling for her. “I come alive in the classroom,” says Hunt. She explained that many times in a long career people accept different roles at work and move away from what excited them in earlier positions.
Before pursuing an encore career, Hunt suggests that Boomers think about what they really enjoy in life.
Her future plans include taking culinary arts courses and doing more baking. “I know it is totally different, but it is also something I enjoy,” she explained.
Juggling many roles requires great time management skills and Hunt has honed specific techniques over the years. The mother of three adult children and grandmother of three explained that writing down potential activities helps her prioritize. She also focuses on calendar items that are time sensitive. Hunt shared a story about participating in a dance program recently with her granddaughter on a day with many competing priorities. “I thought about how I could make my schedule work because it was important to my granddaughter and me. I love to dance and this was an opportunity to be with her, so it became the priority and we had a wonderful time,” said Hunt. Scheduling downtime and remaining flexible are important in time management because priorities change.
Hunt thinks of one day living in the South again, maybe Savannah, Georgia. “In the future maybe I will be semi-retired and spend more time volunteering” she says. Clearly, the idea of retiring to do nothing has not crossed her mind. Early retirement from the workforce is providing Hunt an opportunity to pursue her dream job, explore special interests and continue learning. It is a path more Boomers are choosing as they redefine their years after work.