In this series, we meet inspiring over-50s who are re-defining the way we look at age. This time, we spoke to Mumbai based Kiran Jain who studied as a teacher before she got married and recently did a Waldorf teacher training programme to re-invent her career - coming back to work after a gap of 37 years. Let's hear her story.
Briefly share with us with your background. Where you grew up and what your childhood was like?
My name is Kiran Jain. I am 61 years old. I was trained to be a teacher after my diploma in home science, before I got married and I taught at a school until my marriage. Post marriage my in-laws didn't allow me to work and I also got busy trying to manage a home and raising my two daughters.
Through my life I focussed on being a good parent and also took pride in being a good homemaker. I have always looked after my health and worked on my fitness which has held me in good stead in this phase of my life. After both my daughters were well settled in life, I felt the need to do something to keep myself occupied.
I was fortunate through my grandson to discover the waldorf schooling system and did my year long waldorf teacher training programme. After graduating from the programme at the age of 60, I applied for a job as a handwork teacher and have been teaching since then. This is my second year as a teacher.
I grew up in Khar in Mumbai. I had a fun filled childhood in a joint family where 11 children grew up together. Childhood was filled with a lot fun and play with my siblings and cousins. I loved reading and was an average student at school.
How old are you now and what are you currently doing?
I am 61 years old and I am teaching 'handwork' at a waldorf school in Mumbai.
For the majority of your career, what would you say you have been doing?
I have been a homemaker.
What would you describe as the proudest moment of your career?
The proudest moment of my career was to get a job at the age of 60. I started teaching again after a gap of 37 years.
What has been the turning point in your career that led you to explore other avenues?
I was introduced to the Waldorf philosophy thanks to my grandson who goes to a Waldorf school. The Waldorf schools have a parent/teacher training programme. To understand the philosophy better, I attended the year long programme which proved to be the turning point. I was inspired to get back to teaching and applied for a job at my grandson's school.
When not at work, what brings you joy? Could be hobbies or passions in life? What do you most enjoy about them?
I love travelling, reading and watching movies/TV series. I love meeting new people. Through travel, its always interesting to meet new people and explore new cultures. I feel very satisfied to be able to create handmade products using my crochet and macrame skills. Besides being a teacher, I have recently started my own instagram page where I sell my handmade creations. I make various items through crochet, macrame, knitting and other handwork techniques.
Does it bother you that you are now older? When does it bother you the most?
No, my age doesn't bother me but sometimes I feel my age could limit the number of years I can teach or travel.
Tell me a time in your life when you looked for a job after you turned 60. What was that experience like?
I was anxious as I was applying for a job after so many years and felt inexperienced. I wasn't sure they would hire me because of my age. But I was fortunate to get the job and enjoy every moment thoroughly. I love being in the school environment with the children and it gives me great satisfaction when children are able to grasp what is taught to them. I also enjoy the camaraderie with the other teachers. The sense of financial independence also gives me more security. The other aspect I enjoy is the continuous process of learning at a waldorf school as the school regularly holds workshops for the enrichment of the teachers.
What advice would you give to those who are older and exploring second careers?
Just go ahead and do it and many avenues will open if you really desire it.
What keeps you motivated to stay productive?
The school environment keeps me motivated and also the idea of keeping myself busy and occupied. It also makes me feel younger. At school, considering my age I am active and energetic which often makes my colleagues appreciate my efforts which also keeps me motivated. Also my husband's and my daughters support and encouraging attitude keeps me motivated.
Which aspect of work gives you the most joy? (Salary, designation, team, purpose etc) and why?
I always wanted to work but because of family constraints I couldn't. I always envied my friends who worked but now finally at the age of 60 I am able to do what I always wanted and that gives me immense joy and pleasure.
How would you say your approach to work has changed since you first landed a job?
When I first got the job, it was more of a training period which I enjoyed but took lightly. This year, I feel more responsible, connected, committed and invested in the role of playing a teacher.
What advice would you give to your 30 year old self to prepare for a 100 year life?
Always be positive and open to new opportunities and never lose hope. And very important take good care of your health.
What advice would you give to companies who are not sure if they should hire older talent?
Everyone should give older talent a second chance because of their wisdom and maturity which makes them more committed to their job.
Where can people find out more about you?