The Career Clock

By Julie A. Kaeli

Last September, our second and last child entered full-day kindergarten. As she moved on in her life, I, a stay-at-home mom, was left wondering where my life was heading. I’ve always toyed with the idea of returning to work ever since our first child was born, but the timing was never right. As I became more entrenched in motherhood, I made a concerted effort to avoid gaps in my resume and to keep my skills sharp. I volunteered on numerous school committees, co-chaired an auction, and even freelanced as a writer and editor. It was an ideal situation for a stay-at-home mom with young children.

But what was the ideal situation for a stay-at-home mom once the children were in school? At first, I was excited to have more time in my day. But that soon wore off once reality set in. I knew deep down I wanted more for myself beyond the intermittent volunteer and freelance projects. With each passing week, my feelings about returning to work grew stronger. It was as if my career clock replaced my biological clock. I knew if I waited any longer to resuscitate my career, it might be too late.

I spent months contemplating how to jumpstart my job search. My mind was consumed with questions. How am I going to market myself? Can I compete in this tough economy? Can I find a family-friendly job? How will this impact our family dynamic? It’s been seven years since I last worked for an employer. Was I ready to work for someone again? I felt such a lack of confidence and even came up with excuses for why I shouldn’t go back. But seeing a few of my friends return to work and find self-fulfillment encouraged me not to give up.

After much reflection and talking with my husband, I came to the age-old conclusion that it is never the right time for anything like having children, buying a home or starting a business. At some point you have to stop procrastinating, take the leap and hope for the best. So, I turned to my network of friends and colleagues for advice. One colleague helped me update my resume and also connected me to a job listserv. Another friend introduced me to a networking organization. The more people I spoke to, the more confident I became.

There is much more I need to do with my job search, but I am pleased with the progress I have made. The biggest accomplishment, so far, has been regaining my confidence. I have the opportunity to create a career path that also allows me to be a mom. I’m not sure where this path will lead me, but the time finally feels right for taking the leap and hoping for the best.

To be continued…

JulieKaeliJulie A. Kaeli is a skilled writer, editor, content strategist and project manager in web, print and TV with 15 years of experience. She is a graduate of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and Colby College. She currently manages several projects, including writing for print and electronic publications, co-editing a newsletter and generating web content on education advocacy for a public school. Julie is also the marketing and communications chair for the Philadelphia chapter of 85 Broads, a professional women’s organization. She would like to apply her skills toward a career in communications at a university, independent school or philanthropic organization. Most important, she wants to create a career path that makes sense for her and her family. Julie resides in Philadelphia with her husband and two children.


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