Moms getting back into the workforce – Are startups the way to go?

mom joining a job after long- Parenting resources by ZenParent

The stories are many, widespread, and often similar. Smart women, highly educated, who have worked very hard to build a career, often against several odds and myriad constraints.Just when their career has taken off, inevitably, life happens – marriage, oftentimes bundled with relocation, and finally the advent of kids. How drastically their life does a U-turn,voluntarily, of course, and with its own share of euphoric, immeasurable payback. Another couple of years or so before number two comes along, and then another few years go by. Before you know it, between diaper changes and preschools, karate classes and Kumon, a decade has flown by. Enjoyable times and well spent but away from the workforce all the same. So many women find their groove as full time moms and grow into their new found roles.

However, the story is not as happy for so many others, who regret their decision of having left work, for financial and other reasons. Getting back into the workforce in the dog eat dog corporate culture is certainly not easy. Especially considering the constraints, mommy territory almost always comes with. Not to mention the lost confidence which comes with having been out of work for an extended period of time. Then there are always the young, the restless, the footloose and fancy free Gen Next, who, despite not having the kind of experience and patience, are available to put in those extra hours, so critical for Corporates, forever looking for accelerated growth. In such a scenario, moms after trying hard to attain that elusive work-life balance, and oftentimes being unable to do justice to either, may get frustrated and tragically may even give up.

hitch while getting back to work after a long break- Parenting resources by ZenParent

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Does this scenario resonate? Sound all too familiar? How do we break through these shackles to find an identity while maintaining a life balance?

The very first step to finding this balance is, to know that YOU are in control, when it comes to approaching companies and communicating your needs. That is where start ups come into the picture. I had long been pushing the the idea of getting back to work for all of the constraints already mentioned earlier. Made excuses for myself for months, before a friend acquainted me to a small startup she had recently started working for. Up until then, in my mind, the startup culture meant long, unending bleary-eyed hours spent in a makeshift office in a  garage or basement with 20 somethings running the show (yes, I have probably spent too much time reading eulogies on startups!). That, as it turned out, was is a very stereotypical understanding. Within a few days of starting work, I was sold to the idea that moms returning to work for startups can be a mutually beneficial arrangement, a match made in heaven.

Flexibility is the key, the non-negotiable, for all working moms which comes with the need to constantly juggle between doctor’s appointments, school duties and other omnipresent errands. Startup culture knows no boundaries of the 9 to 5 workweek. Working for a start up is not about clocking in your 8 odd hours but about getting the work done, in all probability from not even from the confines of your office desk. Maybe its just to do with the trust that comes from working in a smaller set up. Being a part of a culture that understands this itself spells out a huge, unbeatable advantage.

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Looking at things from the point of view of a start-up, what is it that they need?What they are looking for are clever, scrappy and responsibility taking team members. Broadly speaking of course, a universal startup attitude is that many skills can be taught whereas a good fit cannot.

Startups usually have constant struggles with cash. A lot of them are bootstrap operations so they don’t have much money to dole out. At the same time they need high quality talent. Action taking, multitasking and being organized is a skill that moms seem to have loads of. In short they become wired for these skills that start ups seem to need in abundance. In return they can provide flex-time work hours. I found that this was a perfect fit for me, as I took those tentative first steps back to work, found my groove and gained back the confidence I had lost during the Dora the Explorer and Chota Bheem years.

mom joining work after long- Parenting resources by ZenParent

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Even though personally speaking, I am re-energized and feel a high sense of satisfaction after having joined a startup, I do recognize that for some it might not be a long-term option but just a stepping stone. For such moms too,startups are an invaluable opportunity to get reacquainted to the professionals in themselves, build a resume that ‘sells’ and then apply to more stable smaller companies or to larger companies which can give them the flexibility they need.

So it’s time to get started. Startups around you are hiring for most functional disciplines like marketing and communications, content creation, business development and customer service. Areas which do not directly compete with the technology driven Gen-Nexers. But which require experience, good language and communication skills, maturity of thought and action, real world awareness and most of all, empathy. All of these areas are very difficult for the startups to fill with their bootstrap budgets.

Read here and find out the confessions of a SAHM…

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