Encore career takes me back to my roots

Mike KnaakColumn, Opinion, Print Editions, Print Sartell - St. Stephen, Print St. Joseph0 Comments

You’ve heard about encore careers? That’s the work in the second half of life after retirement.

A lawyer becomes an organic farmer, a stockbroker pursues an encore career as a sculptor…you get the idea.

In your encore career, you’re supposed to find a job that provides greater personal meaning and social impact.

It turns out my encore career….Newsleaders editor…is pretty much the same as my pre-retirement career.

I worked at the St. Cloud Times for 42 years in a number of roles including photo editor, assistant managing editor and the No. 2 person in the newsroom. That job ended in October 2016 when my position and about a dozen others, including the publisher and executive editor, were eliminated.

My wife, Marian Rengel, and I planned to leave the full-time workforce in early 2017 so the abrupt end to work had little impact other than creating immediate free time.

For years, I’ve been an adjunct faculty member at St. Cloud State University teaching a variety of journalism classes. This last fall semester, I taught photojournalism. The man I’m replacing, Dennis Dalman, was one of my students long ago.

Since retiring from full-time work, people ask me if I miss being at the Times. Yes, I miss my former colleagues and I miss the news. Newsrooms are filled with the most creative and passionate people you’ll find anywhere. But I don’t miss managing a daily newspaper, a 24/7 web site and getting calls at all hours of the day and night.

Retirement allowed Marian and me the chance to travel, including visiting our adult daughters. One works in New York City and the other daughter works in Washington, D.C. Those are great cities for trips.

And for years we’ve been Twins, Wild, Gophers, Huskies and more recently Minnesota United fans. Now we have plenty of time for games.

About a year ago, I joined the St. Cloud Municipal Band. I’ve played saxophone since elementary school but my full-time journalism career didn’t leave much time for music.

That music connection led me to the Newsleaders. Fellow saxophone player (and Newsleaders designer) Patric Lewandowski, arrived at rehearsal one night a few weeks ago and said, “Hey Mike, I’ve got a job for you.” I replied I wasn’t looking for work. But he shared some details and here I am.

During the first meeting with my potential co-workers and boss, I was impressed with their passion, engagement with readers and clear sense of purpose.

So, I’m back. The hours aren’t nearly as long but I’m working with creative people reporting and photographing the news. Not bad for an encore career and I still have time for the saxophone.

Author: Mike Knaak

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