Most of us are heavily influenced by the beliefs the older people in the family hold, especially on the role of women. We do not question these beliefs; we accept them as given. For example, “Women hold the family together. Women must be selfless. A woman focused on a career neglects her children“, and so on. We do not have the benefit of a different way of thinking, because our friends and peers come from a similar background. But times are changing and when you see classmates who have built great careers and have accomplished kids, you secretly wonder if the elders knew what they were talking about. Did you make the right choice? Do you wish someone had told you that you could have both? Let us talk about coaching and how it can help in developing an alternate perspective and in getting back to work after a career break.
This post talks about two women – both of whom used the services of a coach differently.
In a long-ago post, I wrote about Nalini – after completing her engineering degree, she worked for three years as a manual test engineer in a large IT Services company. She got married and gave birth to her first child and found it difficult to find childcare that was available beyond 6 PM. Her office location and the commute meant that the earliest she could pick up the baby from the childcare center was 7 PM, and that was if she left office on the dot at 6 PM. So, she quit her job, hoping that she could figure out the situation and return to work in a couple of years. It has now been ten years. A long career break, indeed!
Some of the questions Nalini grappled with were
- Could she go back to testing as a career? – but the industry has moved on and manual testing is no longer a growth space
- Was it time to upskill to a different area like mobile apps development or data analytics?
- Which is the right area? How expensive would it be? Could she trust the courses offered on various online platforms? Would the theoretical programme translate to being able to code in the real world?
- Should she explore a completely different field? – maybe HR? maybe Admin?
- Her children are still young – could she work from home?
- Is part-time work a possibility?
Her mind went round and round with these, and other similar questions and she froze. Every option looked attractive and scary at the same time. She was unable to take the next step.
Nalini used her indePenn coaching sessions to discuss her career options and concerns, and make a choice.
No decision is going to be optimized in all dimensions. Some issues are outside our span of control or influence – we can only hope that events will go the way we want them to. Some other areas, maybe we can use the coach’s help to weigh pros and cons to arrive at a good solution.
And this what Nalini did. She has completed her coursework and certification and found a job that can become a career. Her company has accepted her request to work part-time for a year.
Pratima, on the other hand comes from a very traditional family which frowns upon women going to work. She is a design engineer and had decided to transition to data analytics after a five-year break. When she signed up with indePenn, she had already completed a large part of her course work.
Some of the concerns Pratima had were
- Would she be able to handle a boss who was younger than her?
- Was she being selfish – putting her ‘wants’ ahead of her family’s ‘needs’ by going back to work?
- How would she organize her household chores?
- What if one of her kids fell sick and she had to stay home?
Pratima used her coaching sessions to gain an alternate perspective from her coach – a senior woman professional who has been through the journey herself. Pratima decided that she would be comfortable moving forward once she had a frank conversation with her family and they were willing to support her. It didn’t happen in the first conversation, but with the help of her coach, she designed and had multiple conversations with the whole family and won them over.
Pratima has been a data engineer with a mid-sized IT Services company for the past six months. She settled into her job smoothly and is looking forward to growing with the company and building a career.
A coach creates a safe space for you to explore perspectives and options that you may feel hesitant to explore with anyone else. Talking through pros and cons, exploring a different way of thinking, and occasionally gaining an ‘aha’ moment – all these open up possibilities that we hadn’t considered before.
So instead of letting what-ifs swirl around endlessly in your mind, find a coach and have a conversation!
indePenn coaches and prepares women on a career break returning to work, to present themselves as confident professionals.
Visit us at indePenn.com and Sign Up – we’ll handhold you through the process of getting back to work.
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