I work 24/7. I don’t get a lunch break. I can recall nursery rhymes and children’s’ songs at the drop of a hat. I am a stay-at-home mom.
I’m also a graduate student looking towards the future when my children are in school, and I want a paying job again. I recently read “Moms ‘opting-in’ to work find doors shut”, an article written by CNN.com’s Kelly Wallace in which she describes the problems women face returning to work after staying at home with their children. Wallace bases her article on an infamous piece in the “New York Times Magazine” entitled “The Opt-Out Revolution”, describing a trend of high-powered women leaving their jobs to stay at home with their children. Wallace, like me at one time, could not believe that women in high-paying, high-profile jobs were choosing to leave work in order to stay at home and raise children. Of course, like Wallace discovered after having her own children, my entire perception of stay-at-home mothers radically changed when I had my son in 2011. Luckily, I am able to stay at home with him and my 6-month old daughter, and it’s a choice I don’t regret. I do, however, wonder what I will find once I return to work in a few years. Wallace’s article is compelling to me because I plan on returning to work once my children are in school, and I wondered how difficult it would be to re-enter the workforce. She cites the problems of employers not realizing the potential of a mother’s experience as well as a difficult battle in a troubled job market full of applicants with more recent job experience than a stay-at-home mother. Honestly, Wallace did little to alleviate my fears of finding a job, but her article made me pause and consider what I can do to place myself on equal footing with those job applicants with more recent experience.
You might be asking, “What does this have to do with technical communication?” The tech comm field is full of changing opportunities. Gone are the days of simply writing alone at a desk all day, editing an SME’s work. Many tech writers are heavily involved in work groups that insist upon collaboration and focus on new fields like social media and coding. With employers looking for new skills, this is a perfect field for women interested in writing and collaboration to become involved in. There are many resources available to anyone interested in the field, including stay-at-home mothers. I look at it as my responsibility to teach myself any necessary skills that an employer may be looking for. W3schools.com is a great site offering tutorials in coding languages such as HTML and XML. Gcflearnfree.org is another good site with Microsoft Office tutorials. I also found a blog that is a great resource for tech comm issues and aimed at women: techcommgeekmom.com.
The moral of the story is that with initiative and research into useful skills employers are seeking, mothers returning to work have a fighting chance in finding a great job that uses both newly attained and previous skills. Technical communication lends itself to a changing and emerging market and is full of opportunities for those willing to put in the effort to acquire new skills.