This piece was originally post on The Atlantic on April 19, 2013
I read Lean In expecting a manifesto for my generation. Instead, I found myself in a statistic on the bottom of page 98. "43% of highly qualified women with children are leaving careers or off-ramping for a period of time." This is me. I am the 43 percent. For those of us who left the traditional workforce to raise their kids with full intention of returning to the workplace, Sheryl Sandberg provides no advice or strategies for re-entry.
I have a similar background to Sandberg. With a BA from Columbia, a Masters from Harvard and an MBA from Wharton, I also spent time as a management consultant, working long hours. My OB still jokes about my phone call when I was seven months pregnant to ask if I could go with work to visit an oil rig in Jakarta (the answer was no). I negotiated the first maternity leave ever for a consultant in my office. There had never been a woman at my level who had gotten pregnant before. I was back at work after 10 weeks as I always thought I would, leaving my baby with my supportive husband and a nanny.
I was missing out on key moments in my daughter's life and I was an exhausted, nervous wreck. It would be an easy story to say that my consulting firm pushed me out—but it was the opposite. They tried hard to keep me. They let me work from home often and take time off for appointments. "Just get the job done," they said. That was the problem, though—getting the job done was all about giving everything to the job, and that wasn't sustainable for me once I had a child. I don't fault my firm at all. They are a scrappy service business that needs to consistently deliver high value to their clients by working better and harder. I was good at my job, which was why they were willing to accommodate me—but it was also why, after having my second child, I had to leave.
Leaving the workforce was not easy for me. I spent many a mommygroup crying in the bathroom after other moms declared that being a stay at home mom fulfilled everything they had ever hoped for in life—the best job ever! I mourned my career, and the role where people listened to me, where there were right answers. That couldn't have been the farther from the truth as a mom. Turns out that you can graph milk intake in many different ways, but it still doesn't mean your five-month-old will sleep through the night. READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE ON THE ATLANTICRead More
Recently, Laura Gerson wrote an insightful article on the challenges of getting back into the workforce after taking time off to raise her child. Though Gerson had plenty of successes pre-baby, afterward, she found it difficult to find work, even polishing up her resume and meeting with recruiters.
What’s a new mom supposed to do? In her piece, Gerson highlighted a great point: Flexible work environments exist. Not only are these environments tailored to your schedule, they can also help you to transition back into the workforce after you’ve taken time off. The flexible workforce is the fastest growing segment of the employment market, which means even more of these jobs will be available in the future.
Freelancing is part of this flexible workforce. Not only is it a great option, but by 2020, 40 percent of the workforce will be freelancing. Let’s get you ahead of the curve by looking at some reasons why you should consider this path:
Helps you to gain needed experience
Freelancing is a great way to make waves in an industry, especially if you don’t have much experience. Like Gerson, you may have worked in the marketing industry before you decided to take a break. By applying these skills to a freelancing career, you’re able pick your projects, boost your resume, and gain much needed experience to build a freelancing business.
Freelancing is the perfect career for a stay-at-home mom. It allows you to be your own boss, make your own hours, and focus on work you find creatively fulfilling. The increase in work-life balance doesn’t hurt, either -- in fact, data shows that 86 percent want work options that include flexibility. Therefore, by being your own boss and freelancing your skills, you take control -- and responsibility -- for your career without someone having to make the rules for you.
Removes the location barrier
Freelancing is a business without borders since you don’t have to go into the office every morning. Job searching for a traditional position means limiting yourself to the opportunities close by, unless you’re ready to uproot your life and move to a new location. With a family in tow and an already established life, freelancing gives you the best of both worlds: You can dedicate time to your family while earning money and forming a business.
Expands your business network
As a mom who wants to get back into the workforce, freelancing can help you grow your business network back up. In the world of freelancing, someone always knows someone who needs someone. Once you work with one client, they may be able to refer you to someone else who could use your skills. This has the potential to bring in more revenue and expand your operations to new companies or industries.
While it’s tough to get back into the workforce, flexible options like freelancing are available. Get your career on track on your own terms, without compromising a lifestyle you’re used to.
What do you think? What are some other great reasons to freelance?
Lynn Dixon is the co-founder and COO of Hourly.com, an employment network that quickly matches people who are interested in flexible positions with the right opportunities. Lynn regularly contributes to outlets like The Huffington Post, Mashable, and Business Insider. Connect with Lynn and Hourly on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Many of you had the pleasure of hearing Michelle Patterson, Executive Director of the California Women's Conference speak at our October event. Michelle shared some words of inspiration about working together as women and "lifting each other up."
Well guess what...we are going to be doing just that as MomFair and the California's Women's Conference team up in May. We have signed-up as a Strategic Partner of the conference and will be in attendance at the event. If you are following us on twitter you will see updates from the CA Women's Conference in our feed.
Why attend? Thousands of women congregate to the California Women's Conference every year to be inspired and to learn from influential speakers, business leaders and political figures who are all making a difference in the lives of women everywhere. This year the main stage will host Jada Pinkett Smith talking about the issue of Human Trafficking and her initiative Don't Sell Bodies. Jessica Alba amd Christopher Gavigan will be telling their story about building the Honest Company and their journey to bring healthy options to famialies throughout the US and Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul and many other titles will inspire and uplift us with his words of wisdom. And this is only the beginning. To see a full list of speakers visit the California Women's Conference site .
The spiritual predecessor of the California Women’s Conference, namely the California Governor & First Lady’s Conference on Women, was an annual non-partisan event, and was created in 1985 by then-Governor George Deukmejian, to address the high failure rate among women-owned businesses by giving women entrepreneurs greater access to funding and other helpful resources. Selecting the city of Long Beach as the event’s host, city officials and businesses quickly became enthusiastic supporters. Then-First Lady Gloria Deukmejian assumed responsibility for the conference, which became known as the California Governor and First Lady’s Conference. In the recent past, this conference became a star-studded event. Past speakers have included: His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, First Lady Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson, Barbara Walters, Jane Fonda, Queen Noor of Jordan,Tyra Banks, Martha Stewart, Madeline Albright, Condoleeza Rice, and many others. Today, the tradition of enthusiastically serving women-owned businesses continues under the stewardship of Michelle Patterson, Director of the Global Women Foundation.Read More