Didn’t mean to take an off ramp

IMG_0017A few years back, I worked on a project for a large, local corporation on why women “off ramp” from their careers – leave a promising job despite the fact that they’ve educated themselves and fought their way up the ladder. In this particular workforce, we found two reasons:

  • They were leaving to care for young children – these women tended to be in their early 30’s and most intended to re-enter the workforce
  • They were leaving because they were deeply dissatisfied with their careers – these women tended to be 40 or older and many left for self-employment or consulting work

It was a little frightening to see myself in the profiles we developed for that project. I left for both reasons. I had my children late in life, and I hit both of these crossroads simultaneously. I had progressed in my job about as far as I could go, and the other jobs that were available to me were just more of the same. And I had no time to care for my kids, put a decent meal on the table.

I wanted to start a new phase of my career, not exit. I threw myself into my work seeking a different kind of success.

I loved consulting, for a while. But I was surprised to find myself, ten years later, again deeply dissatisfied – this time with the isolation of my work, my home office, the time I spent with my now teenaged kids who didn’t really need me for more than transportation and basic supervision.

It was time to make a change again. So I did.

The good news is that much has changed in the ten years I was on my own. I found a job easily, despite the horror stories you hear about how hard it is to find a job when you are a) not early in your career; b) have been self-employed; c) need a little flexibility to manage family. Granted, it’s contract work – but I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to pick up where I left off and contribute in a positive way.

But my mind keeps going back to those young women we talked to and their stories. How hard it was to get anyone to take them seriously when they were ready to go back to work. How they were offered less money than they were making before kids because they had “taken a break”. How they endured comments like “We aren’t sure you’ll be able to multi-task.” Really? Who multi-tasks better than a stay-at-home mom?

See, the thing is, I didn’t think I was taking an “off ramp”. I thought I was just taking the alternate route. And I’m guessing many of them thought so too.

This post is part of the SITS Girls Stop the Summer Slump writing challenge.

 

My next career – professional chaperone?

My recent experience chaperoning 80 junior high band students on a trip to Chicago makes me think there might be a future in this sort of thing. The chaperone is an integral part of a school trip. Without them teacher turnover would be much higher. (Picture the last time you took your kids to the zoo on a busy day. Now multiply that by 30. See what I mean?)

So I’m thinking I might be able to hire myself out as a professional chaperone. I will see theIMG_1254 bus country, albeit bombarded by a dizzying chatter of trivial conversation, in a crowd where everyone is ignoring the sites in favor of taking selfies. I’ll bet there are those among you who’d pay me to go in your place.

But it doesn’t stop there. If your children participate in league sports, you are usually expected to work at the concession stand (or as my kids always called it, the confession stand), that shack full of sugared happiness that subsidizes your sport to an almost ridiculous degree. You can buy out your shift, but in our league that costs $150. Multiply that by a couple of kids and you’re into some coin. I figure I could charge a $100 to work your shift and you’d still come out ahead. I’m experienced, and I’m going to be at the ballpark anyway, so why not? I almost know how to work the popcorn machine so I might even be worth a premium.

So think about it – tired of those children’s museums full of sticky handprints and virus-covered surfaces? Seen the staged version of that classic children’s tale one too many times? Rather watch the game than sling lukewarm hot dogs? Terrified to climb aboard a bus with dozens of hormone-crazed teens?

This gun’s for hire – at an activity near you.