You know her.
You may even be her.
She has several young children in tow. She's actively involved in the school, church and community. Without this go-to woman, this linchpin, many of our communities would come undone.
Ironic then, that as her children begin to grow up, few want to hire her.
Which is why I immediately became enthralled by the work of Carol Fishman Cohen (with whom I serendipitously connected via social media) and Vivian Steir Rabin, the authors of Back on the Career Track. Carol worked in corporate finance at investment bank Drexel Burnham Lambert before taking a career break to begin her cherished dream of children and family. Eleven years and four children later, Carol figured out how to relaunch her career, nabbing a full-time job with Bain Capital, a prestigious Boston-based investment firm. Subsequently she moved on, driven by a desire to help other women figure out how to reenter the work force. Carol is a woman who can walk her talk.
Imagine then my delight at being able to attend the iRelaunch Return to Work Conference at Bentley University in Boston. In this standing room-only session, Carol and Vivian had assembled over 200 educated, vibrant women, who had taken a career break to put their mothering dream on track, and now are ready to return to work.
Importantly, their story line wasn't, "I've been out of the workforce, I'm unemployable", a line that many have been spoon fed to believe by corporate America. Rather, the narrative went more like: "In addition to being highly trained as a ______, if you hire me, I won't take maternity leave because I already have, spousal relocation is unlikely because we're already settled, I've got a maturity and perspective that I didn't have at thirty (remember Ann Crittenden's If You've Been a Mother You Can Do Anything"), along with the energy and enthusiasm I couldn't have even begun to muster when I was sleep-deprived."
Not too long ago, once women began pursuing their long-held dream of motherhood, they closed the door forever on career aspirations: people like Carol and Vivian are helping to wedge that door open.
Career re-entry is no doubt quite difficult. But given all the prodigiously talented mothers I know whose contributions the world surely needs, the possibility of re-entry makes me happy. Could it even be, that we are moving into an era where we can have our cake -- and dessert too?
Besides iRelaunch, what other career re-entry programs are you aware of?
How does it feel to know that there will be more doors open to you than you previously thought?
P.S. I also recommend Becky Beaupre Gillespie and Hollee Schwartz Temple's book Good Enough Is the New Perfect. After surveying over 900 moms born between 1965 and 1980 they found that the "constant need to be the best at everything" was the single greatest roadblock to juggling work and family. One of my favorite paragraphs (pg. 59) which applies to mothers across the board is this: Don't equate being a good mother with doing the things you don't do well. Even the fun things count. For me that means, if I love sitting with my daughter in the backyard on Memorial weekend while we both read books, then that's something that makes me a good mother because we are building a relationship. If we do what we love with our children, we'll find that all of our good enough's add up to a whole lot of perfect.