I Landed My First Corporate Job At 54

Having worked from home all my life, I always wanted to work in a corporate role that required me to leave home and go to the office each morning.

The #100careertransitionstories is our effort to normalise career transitions amongst mid-level professionals. We share the stories of professionals (mostly women) who have made bold career moves post their 30s – whether it’s pivoting into the unknown or returning from a break – with the intent that their journeys, complete with challenges and learnings, can inspire other women.

This is the story of Sashikala Polisetty

I used to be a state level basketball player in my teens. As a sportsperson, you learn a lot about people and team building at a very early stage. This has been my guiding light – in life and career.

At 20, I got married and began living in a joint family, picking up responsibilities right from the beginning.

Getting into the work space

I always aspired to work, though. Since circumstances didn’t allow me to work in a traditional role, I started my entrepreneurial journey with a small-scale printing business and then a digital photo studio. Despite its initial success, growing technology started to make my line of work redundant, and I had to move on.

Not giving up on my career, I tried my hand in a new sector, joining a software company as a project manager. Just as I began gaining momentum, sudden familial responsibilities had me put my professional aspirations on hold.

My years of experience helped me realise that my strength lay in working with people. During my years of break, I channelled this strength into social work, establishing a Resident’s welfare association.

Everything was going smoothly until the pandemic hit. Confined at home, my involvement in the association work gradually reduced. With all four of my children having moved out, I began to experience a sense of emptiness. I wanted to do meaningful work and build an independent identity.

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Upskilling to get into a new role post pandemic

In the midst of my contemplation, a friend suggested that I pursue a Diploma in counselling psychology, and it immediately resonated with me.

At 53, I went back to the classroom and worked on assignments. I came across a six-month Google Certification course in project management, which I took up in parallel.

Having worked from home all my life, I always wanted to work in a corporate role that required me to leave home and go to the office each morning. On completing my Google certification, I started applying for jobs on LinkedIn.

I experienced severe self-doubt during the application process, often finding myself thinking – “I highly doubt I’ll receive any interview calls. What could possibly make them consider me?”

I would feel out of place when every job application asked about my previous salary, accomplishments etc.

When I finally got an offer my first reaction was to step away: I didn’t know if I was ready.

“How will I compete with the youngsters?”

“Will I make a fool of myself by asking basic questions?”

“Will people take me seriously or just think this is just my retirement plan?”

It took me days to accept the offer.

At 54 years I have taken up my first 9-5 job as the General Manager of a construction company. My experience with social work has given me skills like decision-making and team-building which helps me in my new role. I continue to dedicate my evenings to social work, as the President of our Residents’ Welfare Association which now is 3000 members strong. My days are hectic, but I love every minute of it.

Image source: LinkedIn

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