It was a fantastic 90-minute webinar talking about how we all started with a job different from the one we currently have, as Meredith Wheeler said, “careers are not linear.” We have to pivot now and then to either follow a passion or fulfill a need or service.
Yes, we often hear a lot about “follow your passion” as a key to find happiness. This concept focused on avoiding being weighed down by the stress of working on things you don’t love. But as Lian Pham bluntly told us, “not everyone has the luxury to pursue their passion,” you have to find out “what motivates you and align it to the necessities of your projects.” More important, Lian said, “you need to find your why.”
Anna McKay added that “reflection is key,” and you have to “understand your value in combination to fulfill a need.”
For me, on the other hand, fulfillment exceeds passion. I mean, solving problems and feeling accomplished on what you do, and the results achieved, is the driving force that lifts you.
Of course, we addressed some of the challenges that come with motherhood—particularly those regarding going back to work. We talked about the mom’s guilt, not having enough family support, and lack of balance that leads to burnout.
Still, we all know those are not the only ones (hello motherhood penalty!).
The conversation continued on how we deal with work and family, especially nowadays! We all agreed that there is not such a thing as a single recipe to manage how to return to work after motherhood hits you, but handling your day is critical for success.
It doesn’t matter if you have a Mom Cave like me, you take your kids with you as much as possible like Lian, you include the little ones to color next to you like Anna, or ditch homeschooling to go outside to have fun on the trampoline, like Meredith and her kids.
There is no wrong or right way of being a working mom. Just do what works for you.
Time Flies When You Are Having Fun
Time passed so fast that without even noticing it, the sky was dark. Of course, we went over the allotted time, but the Q/A was so interesting that we couldn’t rush it!
We covered a vast array of topics, from soul searching to career gaps, and everything in between. Anna and Meredith recommended to have “informational interviews,” that is, to ask someone in your network about a career you are interested in, so you can understand better what it is about and their experience. This way, you can make an educated decision on where to apply or keep looking for a better fit.
I loved Anna’s advice on how to find clarity in your life: “Examine when was the last time you felt strong, and that is your starting point. Then follow the breadcrumbs and see where they lead you.”
Someone asked how to handle negative vibes, and I jumped right in: “you drink tequila, and they’ll disappear” (Yes, that was my Mexican side showing off).
Joking aside, my advice was simple: don’t pay attention to rude comments or backstabbing attitudes. Try to hang out with positive people, avoid the gossip lounge and gossipers. You don’t need negativity in your life (especially now), remember that you have what it takes to succeed, and no matter what you do (or don’t) haters going to hate.
“You can’t control what is outside of you, only what you receive. It is in your power (to accept or not) what you receive.” Lian Pham.
Talking About Gaps
For a stay-at-home mom (parent) with more than a decade since their last paycheck, you’ll have a hard time getting noticed by recruiters. Career transition would be a bit more difficult, not because you are not attractive to the market, but because of the Automated Tracking System (ATS) recruiters use, that will not pick up your data.
Anna mentioned that it is essential to have a 3-year max of a gap. Anna recommends focusing on networking, find associations, meets, organizations of like-minded individuals to boost your career transition, online platforms like Facebook groups, and career coaches to help you navigate these unchartered waters.
How to Include Transferable Skills
A final tip that I forgot to mention during the webinar because of lack of time is the power of volunteering.
Are you a volunteer at your kid’s school? Community-based organizations? Use your volunteer experience as part of your resume and any freelance work (paid or not) that has concrete projects and accomplishments.
I made a list of transferable skills I know any company would love to benefit from:
- Leadership: Chairs and co-chairs, head of a committee, school board representative.
- Development: Fundraising, book fairs, and spirit nights.
- Customer Service: School improvement,
- Marketing: Newsletters, Flyers, Facebook/Instagram posts.
- Community Engagement: Food drive, youth clubs.
So next time you volunteer, think in terms of your career transition: document the project, accomplishments, skills, and team members.
Thank you, Gabriela Zahoranska, from General Assembly, for reaching out to me and organizing this webinar. Thanks, Meredith Wheeler and Maggie Segrich, from Sesh Coworking and Anna McKay from Parents Pivot for sponsoring this event.
Ladies, your rock!
A special thanks to Lian Nguyen Pham, from Company of Nomads, who joined us, bringing her impressive entrepreneurship experience. Talking about juggling work, family, and social causes, Lian does it all!
Resources for Mums (and Dads too)
- Resources for Job Seekers: Parents Pivot, FlexJobs
- Mom and women-focused resources: TheMomProject.com, Bossed Up, Fairygodboss, Hire My Mom
- Resources for Freelancers and Startups: Sesh Coworking, Back2WorkMom, Small Business Administration, Score
- Training to upgrade skills or develop new ones: General Assembly, edX, MIT open courses, Coursera