By Mark Miller
CHICAGO Mar 26 Intel Corp. has
something new inside: A $25,000 retiree benefit to help older
workers transition into new careers in non-profit organizations.
Last year, the technology giant launched the Intel Encore
Career Fellowship - a program offering a paid, one-year, $25,000
stipend to encourage near-retirement employees to put their
skills to work in new careers with a social purpose.
The fellowships are part of a broader movement to encourage
encore careers spearheaded by Encore.org, a non-profit led by
Marc Freedman, a leading thinker and author on the topic.
Much is at stake. While Washington worries about the growing
burden of entitlement spending to support an aging population,
programs like Encore are focused on leveraging the experience of
millions of retirees for the greater good.
Continued participation in the labor force is a net positive
for the economy and the federal budget - and it can boost
retirement security down the road for seniors by allowing them
to delay filing for Social Security, and by adding to retirement
saving accounts. At the same time, Encore appeals to the
instinct for a second act that is so prevalent in the baby
Intel isn't the only company to experiment with this type of
retirement transition program. There have been encore fellows in
15 states and the District of Columbia, and dozens of companies
and foundations have participated in the program.
Hewlett-Packard Co is a founding sponsor of the
program and Goldman Sachs Group Inc has also
But Intel's program stands out because the company is
offering the benefit to any employee over the age of 50, at any
level, as part of its retirement benefits, depending on the
length of their service. Employees must submit applications for
evaluation, and then Intel attempts to match them up with
non-profits, which post openings for fellows.
The fellows program is still in its pilot phase, but it has
the potential to ramp up into a major program at Intel - and
it's off to a strong start.
Forty employees are working as fellows, and another 80 are
in the pipeline, says Julie Wirt, Intel's global retirement
"We wanted something that would work for all of our U.S.
employees, no matter what previous work history," she says. "And
we thought this would bring tremendous value to nonprofits. The
numbers are higher than we anticipated, and it's one of the
benefits our people are aware of more than any others."
Indeed, participation is coming from all parts of the
A construction project manager is doing similar work for a
Portland, Oregon non-profit, while an engineer from
Massachusetts is working as a site manager in Florida for
Habitat for Humanity.
Sonia Hodshire was an Intel manufacturing supervisor in
Albuquerque, New Mexico. She retired last year at age 67 after
26 years with the company and won an encore fellowship working
with the Roadrunner Food Bank of New Mexico. The 30-year-old
non-profit distributes more than 26 million pounds of food
annually to a network of hundreds of partner agencies and four
regional food banks.
Hodshire put her expertise in sophisticated, robotics-based
microprocessor manufacturing to work helping Roadrunner
reorganize its warehouse operations to improve its process flow.
"I'd been feeling anxiety about separating from the
company," she says. "I had a feeling like, 'I'm no good anymore
- I'm going to be put out to pasture. I knew I didn't want to
sit at home on a rocking chair, that just isn't my style."
The shift into non-profit work has been a culture shock -
but in a wonderful way, Hodshire says.
"As a manufacturing supervisor, you're accustomed to giving
orders - making sure goals are met, no deviation. You
investigate and analyze outputs," says Hodshire. "I often felt
like an extension of my machinery."
"At the food bank, everything is different," she says. "The
equipment is archaic, and the budgeting is hand-to-mouth. But
people have a pride in their work and their mission that I
haven't seen in many people. And the job satisfaction is
enormous. I know when I make the operation more efficient, the
faster we can deliver food to needy people in New Mexico. And
that is a human reward that is priceless."
Hodshire's fellowship at the food bank draws to a close at
the end of April, but she plans to continue working in
non-profits, probably with a combination of volunteer and paid
work. She retired with a lump sum pension payout and Social
"I'm okay financially, but don't want to work for no pay at
all," she says. "Maybe I haven't grown enough to say I'll do it
just for love. But I don't need to make as much, maybe enough to
pay for gas and a couple of little things."
"I've discovered a passion within me and I want to feel that
I've used the end of my life to accomplish something that will
help people," she adds.
And that's a good feeling - inside.