Salute to Spouses Blog

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By Amy Nielsen

In my recent reentry into the world of work after an absence for motherhood, I have been casting about for a specific purpose. I am starting a new career in a different field than I had BM – Before Motherhood. I chose the career I did because I can’t help doing it every day. I fall into the service of health and healing with each conversation I hold. I am proud that I have been able to build a structure around something as amorphous as “wellness”.

However, translating that concept into a solid paying job has been a bit tougher. I finally figured out why. I have up to this point not had a specific job that I knew would fit what I am capable of doing. My pre-mom careers had nothing to do with my current profession. So while I have decades of experience, it’s not exactly the right experience. Then there’s that 10 year gap in my portfolio to deal with.

While I say I have gaps in my timeline, those gaps are only of a professional nature. I spent that time very actively volunteering for several organizations. That experience is valid and worthy of mention. I was still engaged in community and working with large non-profit organizations. So while the topics may not have been specifically tied to the work I am doing now, it can be used to support my current desire to work with a non-profit.

I have been networking over the last year in our local community in an effort to discover where the needs are and where I might be able to fit to fill them. What I have found is a good base for growth, but a deeply entrenched apathy for change. The will is there to jog but the butt can’t get off the couch, as it were.

I volunteer with a community activism non-profit organization which has begun the process of creating a spin off sister non-profit working to farther the exact campaigns I want to spearhead. It was announced late last year that they are in the active search for an executive director for the spin off. BINGO!

Now, I am nowhere near ready for prime time or executive directorship. I have read the requirements and description put out by the head hunting agency. With the gaps in my timeline and my previous unrelated career experience, there is no way I would even be considered as a candidate. Applying would be shear folly and probably make more than a few people question my sanity.

However, what I can do is make sure to stay close to those folks who are the movers and shakers creating the structure of the organization. By continually putting myself in the path of this group, I hope to be tapped to join the supporting team, eventually moving up once my degree is conferred.

I know it will take at least another year before the organization is ready to launch public programs, things typically move slowly in the non-profit world as grant funding is a long process.  To that end I will continue to volunteer and perhaps work in a supporting capacity in another like-minded organization until I am better positioned to apply for a position with more organizational responsibility. I know that I have time to work through the beginning semesters of graduate school without being worried that I will compromise my focus on my studies or my career.

My plan of study is two years long. By the time I finish the Master’s, the new spin off organization should be just about ready to jump into high gear, putting me in a good place to move up the food chain into a more senior position.

Two years from now seems like a hugely long time, but as I have kids, I know that two years is the blink of an eye and I had better be ready to hit the ground running if I want to keep up and be in the best place possible to launch into a full time position upon completion.

So while I work through school, and continue to volunteer, I have my sights set on a very specific job. It gives me purpose and drive to make sure I am the best positioned candidate when it comes time to apply. By joining the organization in its infancy, I can follow it through the early growing pains and be in a better place to help it move forward to greater heights.

So what if it happens that when I am ready for the job, the job isn’t ready for me? Well, I will have spent two years developing a career path and reputation within the community that will allow me to apply to other similar organizations. I will have watched this one grow and evolve and I can use that experience to build upon for other organizations. Heck, I might even feel ready at that point to start my own, filling a specific niche that the others don’t.

For now, I have clarity of purpose and a goal to drive towards which is more than I had a week ago. I can begin my Master’s program with a direct intention for its use. I know what I shape if not what color this is going to take and I can now formulate a plan to gather the best set of personal resources I can to make it happen. Today, I will hang the job description post on my bathroom mirror so I can keep it in my focus.

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