|My 1979 Graduate Handbook|
If you are like me, you will be in the year of the college graduation or thinking of it. The one you thought would never come when your children were trailing behind you with their favorite doll or truck in hand. Now grown and about to graduate, you guide them, in your own way, recalling the years when you were the same age, marveling at the similarities and differences to yourself at that age. It is natural for us to draw on our own experiences, they are the ones closest to our heart.
I find myself in a conundrum. I often feel like I am in the dark ages. As a mother, who started her career in 1979 when the world was a different place, I feel at a loss when comparing the differences to women in business in 2013. In 1979, companies were hiring and they were looking for women. I graduated from a women's college with a Bachelor of Arts in Management. I was focused, I knew what I wanted and was offered a great job with a large consumer products company, renowned for it's sales management training program. At the age of 21, I loaded up a truck with a few belongings from home and set off for a new job, in a different state..to discover a 'new working world'.
The reality was that it was hard work, very hard work. I did not realize that I was one of a handful of women in the training program. There were 250 trainees at my first national sales conference and six were women. I stepped into a man's world and the competition was intense. I loved the challenge and felt my time with that company was a changing point in my life. My career progressed and then something happened.
A greater challenge presented itself, my husband, Mr. H. Between marriage, children and moving around the world frequently with his job...I fell out of touch with that side of my life and fell in love with my new life. I held on as long as I could, working full time, then part time until I realised that looking after a teenage au pair was harder work that my three young children and decided to call it quits. The au pair finished her contract and I took full charge. Another new world dawned and I was ready for a new set of challenges.
With time, you tend to forget. I always called my early work experience my 'other life'. With friends in similar positions, we would talk about our 'other life' like it was from a mystical land. We were the Band of Stay-at-Home Mom's...speaking less frequently of days gone by and focusing on our day to day life and cherishing what we had. Occasionally we would come across the Band of Working Mom's who managed to slip into school events when they could. I admired their ability to navigate both world's, some with success and some struggling along the way, just as many stay-at-home mother's did. At the end of the day we were all there for our families, doing the best we could, regardless of our situation in life. That fact still holds true today.
These past weeks, my husband and daughter have been reviewing resumes, reading cover letters and talking through job strategies. Although I feel out of touch, I feel at the very least, I can read as much as possible and guide where I can. I secretly admit...it has been exciting, to throw that hat on again...however lightly. I went into my LinkedIn page, found my old resumes and started typing. My last paying job was in 1995 but no matter, it felt good to remember. It helped me to look at my life as a bigger picture and not just segments. If you have been thinking about doing the same...I say do it! There is not telling where it may lead...
|Sheryl Sandberg, |
Chief Operating Officer
Along the way, I started reading and searching, looking for articles that might inspire, direct and encourage my daughter. First up Sheryl Sandberg and her new book 'Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead'. I have yet to read it but I have to say, if the reviews are anything to go by, I am looking forward to it. She has people talking..and 'leaning in', there is no question about that. Whether they want to or not is another matter. Book aside, if you want a light read into the woman..she has a few book suggestions which I have noted for my daughter, here. If you are curious about her...and want to hear her thoughts...you can watch this.
This morning I came across an article by NY Times writer, Adam Bryant. He writes the 'Corner Office' column. The article, 'When I Hire You, I'm Hiring Your Mentor's Judgement' prompted me to write this post. Mr. Bryant interviewed Ilene Gordon, C.E.O. of Ingredion, drawing on her advice to young managers. She talks about tenacity and never giving up. She recommends having Plan A, Plan B and Plan C or D..if needed. She looks for people who treat other people well, who are focused and organized. When interviewing, she asks potential candidates who their mentor was. Who did they learn from? She feels she is hiring not just the person sitting before her, but the four people who mentored the candidate and she wants to know why those mentors were important to the candidate. She looks to see how people have handled adversity, if they came back or walked away. Ms Gordon summed it by saying... "Very few people have perfect lives. You want people who are able to have Plan B and C, and to rise above a challenge, move ahead and just get on with it, and have that can-do attitude". I like the way she thinks.
|Illene Gordon, C.E.O. Ingredion|
Andrea Mohin/The New York Times
I am enjoying this little quest of mine. In many respects, as in the comments by Ms. Gordon, I can see that the 'words' have not changed over the years. Many of the qualities considered when I was interviewing are the same as what employers are looking for today. As for women in the workforce today, there has been a lot of progress with still a ways to go.
If you are like me, in a similar place in life, as I know many of you are, I hope there is something here that will resonate, if not now, perhaps later. Interestingly, in exploring this changing world for my daughter, I discovered something about myself. I still have the good fight in me and am looking forward to new chapters in my life. My other life may be in the past...but it's today that matters and what I have planned for the next day and the next. My father always had one word for me....Believe. I believe as strongly today as I did back then and only wish he was here so that I could tell him.
With that, I sign off from this lengthy post, one I felt I needed to write. I thank you kindly for reading. If you have any thoughts on any of this, I would be interested to read them. If you have any links, books or sites you would recommend for my daughter, I would love to know and would love to share.
Let's talk...have I sparked a thought or two in you?
As always, once we start taking, the ideas start flying.
Thank you for your comments...I love them!
The highlights follow here:
I mentioned Sarah @ Thyme videography..
it's fabulous, look here
Thank you Sandy @ you may be Wandering
for suggesting the book
'Knowing Your Value' by Mika Brzeniski.
You can find it here
Vicki @ French Essence wrote a great post
on the extraordinary women that we are...
'Jane Austen Got It Right'..you can read it here
I downloaded the Kindle version
of Sheryl Sandberg's book 'Lean In'.
You can find it here
I mentioned a book review by NY Times
writer, Maureen Dowd,
'Pompom Girl for Feminism'.
You can read it here
Tara Dillard commented and got me thinking.
I then went off to explore..
Joseph Campbell and 'Follow Your Bliss' here
Helen Reddy.. 'I Am Woman' here
'The Feminine Mystique' by Betty Friedan which
led me to an interesting article here
Keep them coming...loving 'the talk'!