A PLAYLIST FOR PERSPECTIVE
The school year is a great time for stay-at-home parents to start considering going back to work. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. Here’s my essential playlist to help navigate the process:
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For by U2
You may not want to resume your prior occupation. An experienced career counselor can help, or you can use reference books (such as Do What You Are by Paul D. Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger) or online tools (such as helpguide.org/life/finding_career.htm) to help identify the right career path. Make a list of the enjoyable attributes of your prior job and see if they lead you anywhere.
What’s New, Pussycat? by Tom Jones
If you’ve been out of the workforce for several years or if you’re pursuing a new career, you may need to update or acquire new knowledge and skills. Fortunately, New York City has many continuing education programs, trade associations often offer workshops, and strategic volunteering is a great way to gain skills and experience.
You’ve Got a Friend by James Taylor
Networking is the single most effective job search strategy. Personal contact and strategic use of LinkedIn is a powerful combo. Study LinkedIn, complete your profile, amass as many “connections” as you can, follow companies, and use that knowledge to reach out for “informational interviews.” The key is to ask for information, not a job. But when there’s a job prospect, cultivate a contact to help guide your resume to the right person.
4 WAYS TO MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR INTERNSHIPS
I often recommend internships for career changers and adults looking for productive experiences during their parenting years—especially as kids have gone back to school and require a tad less attention during the day. They’re a good way to test out a field and build your resume, and often they can lead to a job.
2. Learn about yourself.
Internships are opportunities to learn about yourself and your preferred work environment for the future. Do you work better alone or in a group? Are you self-directed or do you benefit from structure? Do you like predictability or spontaneity?
4. Transmit your goals.
Let people know what you are looking for. If you’re a part-time intern or volunteer, they may not realize you’d be willing to work full-time. Or they may think you have different career ambitions. If you’re interested in a permanent position, make sure the people you are working with know that.
Think about the way you actually spend your time during an average one-week period. List all the major activities in your life: family, commuting, work, sleep, meals, exercise, TV, chores. Calculate how much time you devote to them in seven days (168 hours)—so if you sleep 6 hours a night, that adds up to 42 hours per week. Now draw a large pie (a circle) and divide it into slices that represent these activities.
Spend some time thinking about the results. Are they what you predicted? Do they reflect your priorities? Are you satisfied with the way you spend your time? Any surprises? Anything you’d like to change?
Draw a second pie and divide it to reflect how you want to spend your time. This is a chance for you to add or expand categories that are important to you and remove or shrink ones that aren’t.
If you conclude that work or family occupies too much or too little of your time, you can either embrace the imbalance or recalibrate your time. Many of the women I work with shift their perspective rather than their schedules after they analyze the way they spend their time. They evolve from feeling out of whack to accepting that their situation is due to an important value or priority that they cannot or are not willing to change. Someone struggling with career demands might reframe their perspective from “my career is keeping me from seeing my children” to “I want to spend as much time as possible with my children, but right now it’s important for me to make money so that I can save for their education.”