Back to School, Back to Work

The scenarios can vary. The youngest begins full-day kindergarten. The oldest is off to college, the youngers are increasingly busy with their preteen/teen activities. Or, all the kids have been in school for a few years and the reality of another year with a (mostly) quiet house yawns ahead.

Whatever the specifics, fall is a time when many moms (and some dads) who’ve been focused on caregiving turn to thoughts of heading back into the paid workforce.

If you are just at the early stages of your return to work journey, here are a few ways you can take advantage of the (mostly) quiet days to restart your career:

  1. Clear your plate. While it might seem like the days are clear now that the kids are (mostly) in school, take a minute to think about your other commitments. Tie up the loose ends on volunteer jobs, tackle household organizational projects, and consider putting in some support networks to give you a few hours each week to focus on planning the return to work and that can hopefully transition into support for when you’re actually back at work. This can also mean transitioning some household responsibilities to other family members. (With a hat tip to Path Forward’s Christine Winston for offering this advice.)
  2. Write your next job description. Sometimes the hardest step in restarting a career is figuring out what you want to do. No matter how long you’ve been away from your prior career you may feel differently about what you used to do. I wrote up this exercise as a first step to help you explore the possibilities.
  3. Reconnect with your network. Start with a simple invitation for a catch-up over breakfast, lunch or coffee. Reach out to as many people as you can. Then, the exercise outlined above can give you a concrete way to follow up and ask a specific (and easily fulfilled) request. You can write something like “Thanks so much for taking time to catch up with me. I’m really excited to relaunch my career this year and I’m looking for some really quick feedback on a few roles I’m considering focusing on. Would you mind taking a look at what I have come up with and give me your honest feedback?”
  4. Refresh your skills. If your job description exercise revealed that you have new ideas for jobs you’d like to tackle, or you surmise that your skills in your former field could use some updating, take a class. While you can take advantage of the kids being back in school to go to a local community college or boot camp, there are also a ton of great online options. Our partner, Coursera, offer courses in every subject you can imagine. There are also a lot of free options, too. Many companies offer training courses in their software or subjects related to their software, to help make you competitive. One that a former Path Forward returnee, Marina Groothius, found very helpful was the digital marketing certification course from Hubspot.

Share your return to work questions, challenges and triumphs will us! Use the comments to post your thoughts on the journey.