I’ve been very lucky. I started my business almost 13 years ago as a small side-line to raising babies and was fortunate that it grew at the perfect rate. Enough so that I had work to do when the kids were small and enough that for years now, since I’ve have more time, it now is a real gig for me and others. And it’s a blast.
I mean seriously. What could be more fun that learning new stuff on behalf of clients? For pay? Sometimes I feel guilty. Well, not really.
But how many women can say that they have the job of their dreams when the kids are in school and time off when they’re not? Not many.
Anyway, I was talking to someone today who, like many of my peers, took time off to raise kids. And like many others I’ve talked to lately, she is ready for a new challenge. Challenge is, though, that it’s hard to get back in.
I’ve broken it down into two parts – with three pieces each.
Potential Employer Point of View
1) Age. Businesses can get smart, dedicated people who are younger and have fewer responsibilities. They can pay them less and push them more.
2) Learning Curve. A lot has happened to change the way of work in companies (and the world) in the past 10 years. Productivity tools, new media, video conferencing just to name a few.
3) Dedication. While it may not be true, many employers feel that younger, hungrier, more aggressive employees will produce more in order to get ahead. Someone with an established life and a series of additional priorities may not be as dedicated. (Read: stay up all night working on a presentation that should never have been so last minute in the first place.)
Potential Employee Point of View
1) Time. When you have kids – even if they’re preteens or teens – there are times that you need to be there for them. Even if your hours mimic theirs. They might be sick, give a presentation during the day, have an orthodontist appointment. There’s just stuff. It’s hard to give up the time you had for all those years. It just is.
2) Money. After buying nice clothes, going out to lunch, and all the expenses for working that you didn’t have before, how much do you need to make to make it worthwhile? Maybe more than they are willing to pay. Particularly when they can get someone less seasoned to work her butt off for less.
3) Sacrifice. What can’t you do if you’re working? Lunch with your friend for her birthday? Take your grandmother to the grocery store? Help a friend who had surgery? Volunteer at school or go on that field trip? Bake challah for Friday night? None of these things are probably deal-breakers. But they feel kind of sad sometimes. It’s hard to becomre more removed from the community. But it happens.
But still. I believe.
I believe that if you want the intellectual challenge, the physical challenge and the emotional challenge of working and raising kids and (dare I say) keeping a house, that the opportunity exists. It takes guts. Moxy. Confidence.
You need to know what you want to do and walk in there and tell them. You’ve had years of experience, not only in your chosen field, but also managing hordes of unruly small people, much like the people you’ll be managing there. You’ve made deadlines by the score. You’ve accomplished huge goals with little or no coherent input. You’ve organized, planned, cajoled, presented, plea-bargained…. Really, there is virutally no skill left untested.
Moms don’t take time off of work for years. They just shift careers. And when you’re ready to re-shift those goals, take all you’ve learned and make it work for you.