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Easing Back In - A 30-Something Returnee

  • Schonali
  • in
  • Back to Work
  • |
  • 13 Sep 2016
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“Give a new mother a sleeping child for an hour, and she can achieve 10 times more than a childless person.” - How To Be A Woman1, Caitlin Moran

How many women with children are reading this line out loud right now to whoever is around you, and then chuckling with delight and a smidgen of self-satisfaction... because it’s true? This line epitomises the reason why more and more progressive and highly profitable companies are choosing to “re-intern” women who took the big break – usually for children, but also, in India, to focus on marriage, relocation, and/or to care for the elderly in their families.

I have a similar story. I am a qualified, experienced, and enthusiastic marketing and writing professional who took a career break after 15 years in the events-marketing fray to raise my first child at 33 years old.   Here’s how I restarted my career as a returnee intern and never looked back...

The first few months after my baby was born were the hardest I had ever experienced. Nothing in my frenzied work-life thus far had prepared me for the zombie-land of sleep-deprivation, the unromantic reality of breastfeeding, or being needed and depended on so much by another person for his very survival. It shook me to my core.

Luckily, I had the advantage of being able to stay at home for two, or even three years if I wanted to, and so I decided to take that option. And the months that followed slowly became the most delightful and soul-awakening of my life. With every new development I grew to love my baby more and more and found it harder and harder to leave him for more than an hour or two a day.

And then he crossed his 18-month birthday and was walking, babbling, and socializing like a tiny human-being – and I realized with a bittersweet jolt that the time had come to end the big break.

He was beginning to relinquish the absolute dependence that he’d first had on me, and it was time for me to reflex those skills that had gone rusty and outdated in my time away from the workforce.

That’s when a start-up portal – JobsForHer – fortuitously showed up in my Facebook newsfeed. It was created for women like me to restart our careers. I visited the website and created a profile. One week later I received an email from them advertising a returnee program – a 3-month paid internship as a content writer and developer. It was a perfect fit for what I had studied in college and hadn’t yet had a chance to demonstrate my competency. Something I had wanted to do for more than a decade.

What better time than now? What better way than this?

It was the ideal opportunity for me to retrain and sharpen those slightly rusty skills, especially in today’s rapidly-advancing world where nothing has remained untouched by technology.  The returnee internship gave me a chance to learn about developing online content, using the latest keyword tools, meta-tagging, blogging and more than anything, re-entering the workforce in a gradual and phased manner.  It gave me a chance to prove to the world, and to myself, that I have it in me to juggle both my work and my family without compromising on either. 

And more than anything, it gave me a bounce in my step and a deeper sense of fulfilment. I was able to dust off my dreams and ambitions and once again believe that it IS possible to achieve them. 

As a Creative Writing and Women’s Studies graduate, to be able to read and write for 4 hours a day about women-empowerment and equality in the workforce was nothing short of glorious. Until my son started preschool I got to spend quality hours of playtime with him at home, before and after work. This was my trial-run in figuring out my own customized work-life-family balance for what I wanted to do once he did start school – which was to write professionally as a full-time freelancer.

The options for working flex-hours in today’s world have increased dramatically from the time of our mothers’ generation. It gives us the ability to enjoy our children’s early years and childhood, while also being relevant outside the home. We can re-employ our education and work-experience that seemed rendered redundant by the entrance of motherhood into our lives.

I watched my own mother work nonstop while raising 3 kids, constantly reinventing herself when her work-life called for it, and she continues to do so at the age of 62 with no retirement in sight. But, that’s a story for another day... However, her example and work-ethic imprinted firmly in my way of thinking has always been an inspiration to me.

I want to work and I want to spend time with my family and I want to enjoy the joys and rewards that both offer...and now I can.

And if I can, you can too.

JobsForHer lists numerous Returnee Internship positions with all manner of companies across India’s metropolises. In addition to this type of “ease-back-in” role, there are also Part Time, Work-from-Home, Freelance, and Full Time positions – all for women on a career break who want to restart their professional careers, on their terms. There are even Volunteer positions for women who want to return to the office space in a more leisurely fashion and work on assignments that aren’t deadline-critical, but still more challenging than those assigned to fresh college graduates.

At the end of a Returnee Internship, which usually lasts 3 months in either part-time or full-time capacities, a woman knows if she’s ready to jump back into that pool or not. She knows if she can balance work and home, or not. She knows if she’s a competent contributor to the workforce, or not.

Or, at the very least, if she wants to take the steps to re-launch her second career.

It is also a great way for companies to reabsorb high-calibre, qualified, experienced, and work-ready candidates, from a talent pool that’s usually available at a no-notice period.

Win-win? We’d say so.


If you’re looking to start your career, or for new and exciting roles to showcase the skills you’ve gained along your professional and personal journey, you can find them at 
www.JobsForHer.com. Create your profile, upload your resume and start job-hunting today!

 

Currently the Manager of Creative Content at JobsForHer, Schonali Rebello is a full-time mom to an athletic and bubbly 3-year-old, and has worked in a smorgasbord of jobs – from executive-assistant to a tech-CEO to fundraising for the classical performing arts, from bartending in Toronto to conceptualizing events at a supper-club in Bangalore, from heading communications at a family-owned group of agricultural and real-estate companies to handling Nespresso events with coffee planters in Coorg. After all of this she is finally living her dream as a Creative Writing & Women's Studies graduate, writing articles, blog-posts and reviews on women's issues in the Indian workplace, with JobsForHer – an online portal that connects women who took a break in their careers for marriage/motherhood/elderly care/relocation, with companies that want to hire them.

1How to be a Woman - Caitlyn Moran

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