There’s a “U.C. Berkeley way of doing things,” says 65-year-old Irma Smith, who has been doing things that way for 29 years. Thanks to a website on the University of California campus, she doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon.
Not long after Smith retired in 2001 as a finance officer in the university's Office of the President, she learned about a website the university was pilot testing for retired staff at U.C. Berkeley. The concept was to create an online resource to publicize part-time temporary and short-term, project-based assignments and house profiles of retired staff members who want to be considered for those work opportunities.
Smith was eager to sign up—and has since had five successful placements, each lasting about three months. “Since I’ve been around so long—and know ‘the Berkeley way’—I’ve been able to walk right in and start working,” she says. “It’s been great.”
Shelley Glazer, executive director of the U.C. Berkeley Retirement Center, says that the website—an immediate success when it was launched in 2002—fills a growing need for both the university and its retirees. “When baby boomers retire, they leave behind them a huge gap of institutional knowledge and expertise that can’t be easily replaced by incoming recruits,” Glazer says. “Returning retirees can hit the ground running.”
Currently, at least 330 UC Berkeley retirees and more than 240 hiring managers have registered and are using the Retiree Work Opportunities website to find each other. About 80 percent of the opportunities listed are filled by U.C. retirees.
Here’s how the website works: Retired staff members post online web profiles and/or resumes highlighting their skills and interests, U.C. work history and preferences for scheduling and placement. They can edit their profiles and update their availability, for instance, whenever they want. Hiring managers post opportunities on the website, stating skills needed, project duration and schedule.
Then the two-way conversation begins. Managers seeking to fill a job can contact retirees directly, or retirees can initiate contact with managers if they see a listing of interest to them. Once hired, the retiree is paid by the department that posted the job.
Deborah Wolfe, manager of accounting and purchasing in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, has nothing but praise for the administrative staffer she found through the website. “Not only is she utterly reliable and dependable, she’s not looking to change jobs,” she says, adding, “She learned the upgraded university financial system quickly and in an unfailingly conscientious and pleasant manner."
The website now lists only nonacademic jobs, but the center is looking into adding part-time, temporary projects for academics.