Steer toward a career YOU LOVE.Oct 31, 2022 11:30AM ● By Jan Weeks
Some people know from an early age what they want to do with their lives. Others take awhile to figure it out. Even if your career trajectory is heading in a different direction, these local seniors prove it’s never too late to change career paths and do something that truly makes you happy.
Live the childhood dream
Jack Ranney, 78, knew when he was 15 that he wanted a career that involved forestry after his father took him on a fishing trip in northern Michigan.
Ranney fell in love with the back woods, but was appalled by miles of stumps left from clear cutting in the early 1900s. Forest fires had later devastated the region, eliminating organic matter in the soil. Only scrubby trees, tall grass and bracken fern—indicators of poor soil—remained.
“The forests were not growing back on their own,” said Ranney. “I spent days, weeks and months imagining bringing back a beautiful forest and all the wildlife that comes with it. I had to become a forester and correct the clearcutting misdeeds of the past.”
Ignoring well-meaning advice to become a civil engineer, Ranney followed his passion and became a forester. He studied land use planning, landscape architecture and finally landscape ecology, working with forest growth models.
Ranney spent the rest of his career overseeing research on trees. Just before he retired, two graduate students worked with him to study oak regeneration and fire management in the place Ranney and his father had camped, which is now reforested with pine.
That trip inspired Ranney’s career, and also brought him and his father closer.
Go back to school
Lorena Krizman, 60, has always wanted to help people. As a child she was fascinated by the medical field but didn’t think she was smart enough to follow her passion. So she settled for less.
Then as a single woman in her 20s, Krizman and her son moved in with her mother. She began working for the school district but soon realized she wasn’t making enough as a teacher aide to support them.
So Krizman enrolled at the Technical Trades Institute and received an associate’s degree in business. Even though the idea of working in medicine frightened her, Krizman applied at an internal medicine office and was hired.
She learned all aspects of the front office, from medical records to scheduling. After seven years, she moved on to a family practice as a front office manager and then to the billing department, becoming a certified biller and coder.
Twelve years ago, Krizman was hired at the physical therapy department of Western Orthopedics and Sports Medicine. Patients come in several times a week for therapy, and Krizman considers them all to be friends.
“I plan to stay here until I retire,” she said. “I love meeting so many wonderful people. I do my best to help them feel comfortable and realize they don’t have to be scared.”
Krizman said she can’t imagine working anywhere else.
For those looking for a change, Krizman advised: “Go for the dream. Go back to school and learn something new.”
Keep up with tech
Cliff Kramer came to real estate through a more convoluted path. After attending Mesa Junior College after high school, the draft board sent him on an all-expense paid trip to Vietnam. When his tour of duty ended, he came back to Mesa, made the Dean’s List, and finished at Colorado State University, earning a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts.
“I got a job at World Savings and Loan in Denver, working as an appraiser and loan officer. But I’ve always had knack for computers, so when they became more common, I became the IT go-to guy,” said Kramer.
He convinced the powers that be that computers and the Internet were going to be essential for businesses.
Kramer moved back to Grand Junction and decided to go into real estate, working as an agent for another broker. He spent 21 years with Bray Real Estate, and convinced the Grand Junction Board of Realtors to start using the Internet to sell homes. He was one of the first agents to have a web presence in Grand Junction.
Kramer enjoys real estate, though there are challenges, such as getting clients qualified for loans before he writes a contract. And when that process falls apart because of a failed home inspection or a client losing a job just before closing, it’s heartbreaking for everyone.
Yet there are compensations.
“I love working with people,” Kramer said. “I can show them 40 homes, and when they walk into the forty-first, their eyes sparkle and I can tell they’re going to buy it.”
Kramer, now an agent at BL Real Estate in Grand Junction, has no plans to retire.
Working independently has its rewards, too. Since he isn’t tied to regular office hours, Kramer enjoys cruising the highways and byways on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle and takes his camera along to document his trips
Want a career you love?Whether you’re looking to transition into a new career or add on another, it’s important to find work you’re passionate about. Contact your local workforce center for job search support, such as career assessments, resume writing help, job fair dates and more.
Mesa County Workforce Center, 512 29 ½ Road, Grand Junction - 970-248-7560
50+ Networking Group
through Mesa County Workforce Center meets virtually on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of the month from 8:30-9:30 a.m. You must be registered as a job seeker at www.ConnectingColorado.com.
Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) provides paid job training for qualifying individuals 55 and older to help them find employment. Training doesn’t impact subsidized housing or food share benefits. Call 970-256-1382 or visit www.ser-national.org