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Thread: Career Advice

  1. #1
    Member
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    Career Advice

    I just had my first child and will probably take a break from the working world for a few years. I've been a planner for the past 10 years and I'm nervous about leaving the profession for a while. Have any of you folks done this and were you able to pick up where you left off in terms of responsibilities and salary? Also, do you have any advice on how to maintain connections in the profession while being a stay at home parent?

    I know that being at home right now is the best thing for my child, but I don't want my mind to go stale while I change diapers and sing lullabyes all day.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Can you consult for a few hours a week, maybe from home? How about getting appointed to your planning commission?
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  3. #3
    maudit anglais
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    Congratulations on the addition!

    I'm not really qualified to answer your question...there are a few people around her in your situation, but I think they have generally taken the maximum parental leave available and then gone back to work.

  4. #4
         
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal
    Can you consult for a few hours a week, maybe from home? How about getting appointed to your planning commission?
    Ditto this. I have children but went straight back to work, in fear of the same questions you have. I suggest trying to get appointed to a Planning Commission or even a Board of Adjustment. Anything in the community that will help keep "your mind from going stale"

  5. #5
          Downtown's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Planner Mom
    I just had my first child and will probably take a break from the working world for a few years. I've been a planner for the past 10 years and I'm nervous about leaving the profession for a while. Have any of you folks done this and were you able to pick up where you left off in terms of responsibilities and salary? Also, do you have any advice on how to maintain connections in the profession while being a stay at home parent?

    I know that being at home right now is the best thing for my child, but I don't want my mind to go stale while I change diapers and sing lullabyes all day.
    I would ditto the advice about trying to get on a local board. However, where I am, those appointments tend to be highly political, so I would suggest getting involved with a non-profit organization that has a lot of dealings with the planning profession - ie: your local branch of The Nature Conservancy, or a local organization that does rehab in depressed urban neighborhoods. I would also suggest staying invovled in local planner's groups - our section of the upstate chapter has monthly luncheons that are great for meeting people and keeping abreast of what's going on in planning in the area.

    My son is 14 months, and I'm due with twins in July, and haven't left my job for the exact reasons you stated. I'm in one of the highest paying municipalities in our region, and there is no way I'd consider returning to the consulting world with children still at home.

    Best of luck!

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    My sister left her government job after a 15 year career to be home with her child for 5 years. She had been a GS-13. When she went back to work, she initially took a temp or contract job (I don't remember which) and that led to a GS-12 position. She had her GS-13 back in about a year. It might be more realistic to expect to go back close to but not right at the same responsibilities and salary. Also, if you do not have a Master's degree but can pursue that while you are a SAHM, you might find yourself moving up. (Or some other kind of education -- like a certificate in something.) Time taken off from work to pursue an education is the only thing I know of that consistently leads to more opportunity rather than less.

    Alternately, you could view this as a chance to grow as a person and perhaps become interested in a whole new career direction -- maybe related to planning or maybe not. I graduated high school with academic awards and everyone kind of implying that I should be a millionaire by age 30. I gave up a national merit scholarship and dropped out of college to follow my military husband's career around the world. I had kids younger than I planned, with the first one arriving "7 years ahead of schedule". I originally figured I would be home with them for 5 to 7 years, until the youngest was in preschool or some such. But I have health problems that weren't diagnosed until much later and I have special needs kids. My oldest really needed me 24/7 for about 15 years. So I have now been married 20 years and I am kind of still a SAHM, but also a sometime college student, I have a long pro-bono (volunteer) career behind me, and homeschooling my kids took me in new directions that I never would have dreamed of, and I am sort of launching a business (or three). Being home for so long taught me things I could not have learned any other way. I wouldn't know where to begin to explain the value of my experience of working for my personal values and not for money. It has been a very enriching, healing, empowering experience. I think I love my life a lot more than most folks I talk to. I feel an enormous sense of freedom to choose and to design the life of my dreams. Being home allowed me to escape the 9-to-5 "box". I have a completely different set of assumptions than most people I speak with.

    Anyway, if you have a brain, it is possible to walk completely away from it and come back to it later, with a fresh perspective. My sister did. And although my detour was a lot longer than I planned on, I expect to have a satisfying career as well.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Trail Nazi's avatar
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    Congrats on your new edition.

    This one is a tough question because I have been dealing with this answer for the past 20 months since the birth of my son. When we found out that we were having our son, we were right in the middle of moving from Florida to NoVA for my husband's job. Since I came from another state, the local government was nervous about hiring me as a planner because I did not have VA experience. However, I did get on and all was fairly well, but then came Mac. The only reason I went back to work was because the cost of living in NoVA was so expensive that I had to. Daycare is expensive the DC area. I did get to spend 3 months at home with him and at first, I thought I was going to go crazy, but the time goes by faster than you think.

    There was another woman in my office who had her daughter a couple of years previous to me that they allowed her to job share with another. So she got to work part time. Which worked great for her.

    When we moved to Philly back in April/May, I just stayed home since the cost of living was so much cheaper but because we wanted to come back home to Florida, I took a job to get us back on the path of being home. However, although I love my job and I almost back up to the salary I left at but did return to the same level in position; however, I would much rather spend my time at home with my son and working part time as a water aerobics instructor. I did have a little bit of shock after becoming a fulltime mom again, but after a couple of weeks, I got into the groove of everything and found other outlets to keep my mind stimulated. I started working fulltime again in September - for one reason only - to return home to Florida. Again, I am reconsidering.

    It is a tough call so I wish you the best of luck in your decision.

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