September is the New January

Happy New Year

The end of summer and start of a new school year feels like a fresh start.

The scenarios can vary. Maybe your youngest is beginning full-day kindergarten. Or the oldest is off to college while the other kids are increasingly busy with their preteen/teen activities. Or, maybe all the kids have been in school for a few years and another year of a (mostly) quiet house is making you consider a change.

Whatever the specifics, the back-to-school season is when many stay-at-home moms and dads turn their thoughts to returning to the paid workforce. If this describes you, consider September your new January. Make your New Year’s resolution now and take advantage of the (mostly) quiet days of fall to restart your career with these five steps:

1. Clear your plate

While it might seem like the days are open now that the kids are (mostly) in school, take a minute to think about your other commitments. Tie up loose ends on volunteer jobs and tackle household organizational projects.

Also consider putting into place support networks that will give you a few hours each week to focus on planning your return to work. This can mean transitioning some household responsibilities to other family members, for example, or finding a local college student to provide some after school or weekend child care. Hopefully these will carry over into support for you when you’re actually back at work.

2. Write your next job description

Sometimes the hardest step in restarting a career is figuring out what you want to do. If you’ve been away from your prior career for many years, you may feel differently about what you used to do. Try this job description exercise as a first step to help you explore the possibilities.

3. Reconnect with your network

Start with a simple invitation for a catch-up over breakfast, lunch, or coffee. Reach out to as many people as you can. Be sure to follow up and ask a specific (and easily fulfilled) request. You can write something like “Thanks so much for taking time to catch up with me. I’m really excited to relaunch my career this year and I’m looking for some really quick feedback on a few roles I’m considering focusing on. Would you mind taking a look at what I have come up with and give me your honest feedback?”

4. Refresh your skills

If the job description exercise revealed that you have new ideas about the job you’d like to pursue next, or you surmise that your skills in your former field could use some updating, take a class. While the kids are in school, go to a local community college or boot camp or take advantage of the tons of online options (our webinar A Returner’s Guide to Updating Your Skills has many helpful suggestions).

Many returners have told us they used YouTube videos as a way to polish their skills and you’ll find that companies also offer free training courses on subjects related to their software. One that a former Path Forward returner, Marina Groothius, found very helpful was a digital marketing certification course from Hubspot.

5. Apply

When you’re ready, take a look at the returnship opportunities currently offered by Path Forward’s partner companies and apply. You can check out all the current openings in tech and corporate fields, or see all companies that are currently taking applications. New opportunities are added all the time, so keep checking back — and make sure to sign up for our newsletter to learn about new returnships and resources as soon as they’re announced.

Remember, like all New Year’s resolutions, it’s important to get started and then persevere. Keep it up and by the time January rolls around, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your return to work goals.