Vicki Kunkel is a member of The Reporters Inc’s Board of Directors. To learn more about her, click here.

Too Old to Get Hired?

Create Your Own Job Security

November 2014


(Editor’s Note: This article is one of several interviews the author conducted for an upcoming book about people who are successfully starting new careers and/or new businesses later in life.)

At age 52, Anthony Smith had achieved the brass ring: a top-level marketing executive position at one of the largest athletic wear companies in the world. He lived in Germany for ten years, Holland for two years, and Italy for nine, working at various corporate divisions of Nike. He rubbed elbows with some of the most famous athletes in the world. His bosses regularly promoted him and gave him the plum assignments. His co-workers liked to play basketball with him and go out for the occasional after-work drinks. He had what most would consider a “dream” life.

But something had changed in Anthony a few years earlier when he was asked by Nike to host a series of high-profile celebrity athlete interviews for TV shows, as part of a product promotion for the company. He started to have an identity crisis: I don’t think I want to work in corporate America anymore. I want to be a motivational speaker; I want to act and host TV shows and perform!  I want to express my personality and creativity. I don’t want to be a suit!

What started out as a little voice in his head grew into a full-blown obsession. A few years later, Anthony knew it was time to make the leap into speaking and acting.

Problem was, no one wanted to hire a 52-year-old corporate V.P. with no speaking or acting experience, to speak and act.  Oh, he applied to several places. He tried for a couple of years to break into the performance field and get full-time work. He applied everywhere from local theater companies to New York modeling and acting studios. Some gave him a polite, “Thank-you-for-you-interest” response. Others sent the obligatory form rejection letter.

Some laughed in his face.

That’s when Anthony had an epiphany:  If you can’t get hired in the industry, become a player in the industry.

“Look, at a certain age, you’re not going (more…)

Amanda Werner tends to Becca Collins, a teen living with Batten Disease.

Mari Grigaliunas is a reporter with Shaw Media in Downers Grove, Illinois. She writes for the Elmhurst, Lombard, Addison and Villa Park Suburban Life weeklies, specializing in community journalism, investigations and features. She believes we all have a role as global citizens– and that hers is to share the stories that remind us of that.

Searching for Nemo:
A Community Rallies to Help a Struggling Teen "Keep Swimming"

November 2014


A little more than a year ago I walked through the doors of Mokena Elementary School into a sea of children chanting, “Just keep swimming!” The hundreds of suburban Chicago students held fish in the shape of the cartoon character Dory from Finding Nemo, waving them in the air.

The experience was more than surreal. Here I was, strolling the halls where I learned how to spell and do multiplication years ago, side-by-side with some friends I probably hadn’t talked to since my recess days.

We were there for Becca Collins, a 15-year-old girl who, like us, used to walk these halls lined in coat hooks and cubbies constructed for miniature people.

In fact, the masses of chanting children were there for her, too. Finding Nemo fan Becca lives with Batten Disease, a fatal nervous system disorder; she fights every day against this inherited (more…)