Finding a new path

Burke and Penn at OffiCenters' North Loop location.
Burke and Penn at OffiCenters' North Loop location. Photo by Tracy Walsh

Sometimes, I wish we still lived in a world where you could find a career path, study or train, then get a job and then, finally, stay the course in your field for 30 years or more, maybe even becoming an expert or perfecting your craft — all at a single organization (or two).

OK, so maybe that mythical time never really existed quite the way I’m imagining it.

And maybe it’s good for us to change jobs every three to five years — at least that’s what Forbes says.

But the speed of our world already demands so much change of all of us, it seems.

It can be exhausting staying sharp and fresh, with innovation and new technologies swirling all around us in a constantly evolving business climate.

And then, in the middle of it all, we must change jobs, voluntarily or not.

Fortunately, there are at least two people in the Twin Cities who can help: Meet Nancy Burke and Marg Penn, this month’s Cover Stars and the rockstar founders of Burke&Penn, a Minneapolis-based career-consulting firm that caters to ages 50 and up.

Burke and Penn have had long and successful careers. They’ve seen it all in the business world. (Peruse their dazzling work histories at They know the speed of fast companies (and slow ones) and they know very well the grueling pace of corporate (and small business) America.

Many of their clients have thrived in those environments. But they’ve also found themselves drained by them — especially when nearing middle age or retirement.

“They’re saying, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore,’” Burke said.

Burke and Penn, now in their early 70s, didn’t want to do it anymore either.

So about five years ago they struck out on their own terms to meet the needs of older, career-minded adults.

“We’re working for ourselves,” Burke said. “We can do it at the pace we want to do it.”

There’s a demand for this duo. Changing jobs — even when you leave on your own terms — is incredibly hard. Burke and Penn have personal experience with that, too.

“It’s a loss of identity,” Penn said.

Finding that new path — that new, perhaps more thoughtful sense of self — is where Burke&Penn come in with expert advice, positive energy and patience.

They help clients brush up their resumes, use online tools more effi ciently, expand their networking and even do a little soul searching.

“We’re really good at helping people step back and see for themselves how much they truly have to offer,” Penn said.

Burke added: “We tell people, ‘Don’t defi ne yourself by your past, but by the future you want to create.’”

Well, despite being happy in the job I have now, I sure like the sound of that!