Recently as I was driving my youngest son, 11, to his cousin’s house for a sleepover, I told him that my idea for a blog post had been given the green light, and I shared with him my feelings of excitement, gratitude and emotion.
He looked at me calmly and said “Mom, MILLIONS of people write blog posts every single day. Why is this one a big deal?”
Leave it to my youngest to make such a rational, accurate comment. Yes, it is true that a huge number of people write blog posts every day, but it’s the way that I came to post that makes it a big deal (even if only to me). I’m writing this because a fellow working mom whom I’d never met agreed to take a chance on me when I asked her to do so.
This is the power of the growing conversation about former working moms who opted out of the workforce for a variety of reasons, and their collective drive to get back in. And it’s the power of websites such as Maybrooks (now part of Après), which give representation and voice to working moms and those who want to go back to work, and provide us with ways to help each other find meaningful, family-favorable employment.
I represent the women who opted out long-term but decided to return to work, and in asking my similarly-situated friends and colleagues what would be helpful reading, they agreed that they didn’t want to rehash or revisit the what or why about the decision to opt out and then back in. They want helpful, concrete advice and conversation to move forward and it’s my privilege to share a bit of what I have learned in the four years since I re-joined the workforce:
ASK FOR HELP. This goes beyond telling everyone you know that you are looking for a job. Ask for a job. Ask for help. Ask if you can speak to someone about what it is like to work at their organization, then offer your relevant services. I’ve done this many times, with people I don’t know, and they all have been willing to help in one way or another. Do your research, find out who you want to speak with in the company, contact that person, and ask. It sounds implausible but it works.
IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO LEARN A NEW JOB SKILL, AND YOU DO HAVE THE TIME. I came out of the alternative dispute resolution field wanting to make a switch into Social Media Marketing. Talk about going in cold! Attorneys are notorious for being behind the curve on social media, so my exposure was minimal. Outside of legal the world was going 200 miles per hour and I was completely shocked. But I made an amazing discovery – online courses. They are real, they are good, and they are pretty inexpensive. I paid $120 to take an online course which required about 10 hours per week of my time for 6 weeks, and contrary to how it sounds, online doesn’t mean a Skype class. It means class interaction is based on posts and feedback in relevant forums set up by the instructor. You can “take” a class on Wednesdays at 11 PM if you like. Worth every penny, and then some.
READ AND BE INSPIRED. This sounds cliché, and my friends who know me well accept that I find clichés beyond irritating. This reading is different. Pick up or Kindle a recent book on the changes in the world of working women — Stiletto Network and Lean In for example. I take a little bit from each that I feel is relevant to me and my situation.
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