Convention Idea: Retirees?

The roundup of convention ideas is here.

When putting people on your career panels, you have many choices; the guest, the hip student, the hard working pro.  Once you start looking for potential guests you'll be amazed at the people you can call upon.

Have you thought about inviting people who are already done with their careers?  In short – have you looked at retirees?

Think of all the people you may know – or others may know – who have had long and successful careers.  Some of them may even be guests or the parents/grandparents of attendees.  Consider, just for a moment, how many people out there who have had amazing careers and lives that can share that information.

To give an example, I live in an area that has a Computer History Museum (  The staff is largely volunteer, and I've met some who were completely or partially retired.  Imagine what they could say to a group of young potential programmers at a science fiction convention.

Or retired actors who may want to speak on the craft – seasoned enough to speak, but out of the spotlight to enjoy enough privacy.

Or writers . . . well, you get the idea.

Tapping into retirees gives you some special edges in events:

  • You have living examples of success.  People may not take the 20-something person who just broke into videogames seriously, but they're going to listen to someone who worked at IBM for 40 years.
  • You have people who understand the sweep of history, which is something that you have to live career-wise.
  • You have people who can speak to evolving technologies and their impact on careers.
  • The retirees can probably help connect you with even more resources.

So when you're thinking profan panels, don't forget those who have already had long careers.  They have a lot to say.

– Steven Savage