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Thinking of a Return to Work, Moms? You Must Learn About Untapped Potential
I was grateful I had the opportunity to stay home full time with my children when they were young. While managing our family’s needs in our home, I soaked up the unstructured time with my children and the many opportunities to attend toddler music classes and playgroups with them. Later, when they entered school, I enjoyed volunteering in their classrooms and for some local nonprofit organizations.
In 2016, as my sons were becoming more independent as they entered the 6th and 9th grades, I was feeling a strong pull toward restarting my career to do valuable and meaningful work outside of our home. Although volunteer work was rewarding, I wanted to get back onto the career trajectory I had stepped off of in order to care for my children in their younger years.
Prior to having children, I had enjoyed a career in healthcare quality management. I had always considered my work to be an integral and valuable part of my personal identity, and I was really missing that aspect of who I was. I’d been out of the healthcare arena for over ten years, and I didn’t quite know where to start or how to get my footing back onto a career path.
I enjoyed digital creativity and had learned some basic website design and social media skills on my own. In the spring of 2016, I’d taken that a step further by running the local website for a national online family resource (Hulafrog.com). It was a good move, but it didn’t pay much, and there wasn’t a clear path within the organization to career advancement. I was ready for something more substantial, yet I still valued the flexibility of part time work that allowed me to carve out time for my family.
I learned about Untapped Potential in 2016 (www.upotential.org)through a happenstance virtual meeting with the organization’s founder, Candace Freedenberg. Mrs. Freedenberg lives right next door in Canton, CT and is an MBA-degreed engineer with an impressive career studded with positions at Eastman Kodak and IBM. She founded Untapped Potential in 2015 when she realized there are many professional women wanting to find flexible paths back to fulfilling careers after “stepping off” those paths to spend time at home with young families. She also recognized many employers are searching for the professional expertise and skills possessed by these women. Her vision was that UP could be the winning solution to this resulting economic loss for both the women and the employers. Set up as a benefit corporation, UP was formed with the ultimate goal of preventing these educated professionals from being side-lined for the remaining 30+ years of their careers and returning them to the pipeline of senior roles supporting business.
At Mrs. Freedenberg’s encouragement, at the end of the summer in 2016, I visited UP’s website and created my profile to be considered for a “flexible return” engagement, coined a ‘Flex-Return.’ These are, typically, time-limited (12-24 weeks), paid work arrangements set up by UP between an UP candidate and a “Pledging Partner.” Pledging Partners are companies that have agreed to support UP’s mission towards gender-equity and diversity in the workplace.
Mrs. Freedenberg reviewed my profile, and set up an interview for me with Janice Gucciardi, founder and owner of Jabberhead, LLC (www.Jabberhead.net), a local social media, branding and website marketing agency. Jabberhead works with local, regional and national businesses. The interview went well. Ms. Gucciardi offered me the opportunity to do a 12-week Flex-Return at Jabberhead. I was paid a stipend by UP while Jabberhead paid a fixed fee to UP for the experiential engagement.
It was a great fit. At the end of the contract, Jabberhead immediately offered me a permanent part time position as a Digital Content Specialist. I’ve now worked for over a year for Jabberhead, and it’s the perfect flexible work arrangement. I’m able to offer my growing digital marketing and content development skills to our Jabberhead customers – blog writing, social media marketing development, email campaign content – from my kitchen computer. But make no mistake - even though I’m in workout clothes when I’m putting in work time for Jabberhead, I’m working hard, enjoying the new challenges thrown my way, and I truly value being at home when my kids get off the bus or need transport to a piano lesson, orthodontist appointment or sports practice. It’s the best of all worlds. I’m very grateful to both UP and Jabberhead.
Untapped Potential offers an impressive and growing complement of services to support women seeking to get back onto career paths. Everything from career re-entry support, such as resources to help brush up interview skills and resume recrafting, to online training and local professionally staffed seminars to help women build confidence in technical skills (a lot has changed in the work world in the past few years, and new tech can be intimidating when you’re thinking of re-entering the workforce). UP also holds networking and speed-interviewing events between candidates and Pledging Partners. They provide mentors and coaches for candidates to help them identify strengths and weaknesses, career interests, and strategies for returning to work.
UP provides an impressive talent pool of high-caliber professionals for its Pledging Partners. For a fraction of what it might cost to hire a consultant, UP can place a seasoned professional candidate with just the right skills into an experiential engagement with a Partner company. Companies “hosting” a candidate benefit from high-caliber experienced talent while providing a benevolent environment for our returners. It’s a no-risk opportunity to test a candidate’s skills and personality fit with the company. It’s a win-win as the work experience will add to the candidate’s skill set and eliminate the dreaded work gap on her resume.
I would highly recommend Untapped Potential to any mother wanting to find a flexible way to return to work via UP’s supportive framework. Whether she’s just beginning to think about it or truly ready to jump right back in, UP provides support along that continuum and offers an impressive spectrum of resources to women who have “paused” their careers to care for their families. UP was an invaluable resource for me and it was the key to my finding the perfect flexible part-time job with Jabberhead.
See www.Jabberhead.net Social Media, Branding and Website Agency