Treating Your Career Like a Child

Posted June 7, 2011 by Marcy Twete in On the Ladder
In nearly every book written about women in the workplace, there are chapters (sometimes whole sections) regarding the balance of your family life and your career, how to take care of your children and your career simultaneously. And yesterday, while reading one of these books, I had an epiphany as a woman without children.

I should be treating my career like my child. And here’s how:

  • Flexibility. Women with children naturally look for positions that can be flexible to the needs of their children. These moms want to be able to work longer hours in the morning if they need to get to a Halloween party or Christmas pageant for their kids. And they absolutely should be able to do that – your kids only grow up once. Conference calls will last forever. So it occurs to me, I should be looking for the same flexibility – to attend networking events, to continue to volunteer for organizations I love, and to continue to nurture my career (not just my job) in the same way a woman with children nourishes her relationship with her family.
  • Openness and Chemistry with a Boss: Women with families look for and must have a great relationship with their boss in order to be happy. And that person has to understand their needs both inside and outside the office. When a child has a doctor’s appointment or medical emergency, that boss has to understand your situation enough to say, “GO!” and really mean it. The same goes for me and my career. I have to look for that same chemistry with a boss, but for different reasons. For me, it’s about finding someone who understands my ambition, who gets my drive, who will support me in my climb and continue to be an advocate for me in the company.
  • Convenience. I live in downtown Chicago, and I’d been looking for a job “within 25 miles” of Chicago. But after an interview where I took the Metra an hour outside the city and then a bus for another 10 minutes, I realized my career simply could not flourish in that environment. Many people can handle it, many can balance it all. But I realized last week that I couldn’t. Like a mom who needs to pick her child up from school, I need to be close to the activities and people that will continue to expand my career.

So there you have it. I’ve learned so much from the phenomenal mothers out there. If I could treat my career with a quarter of the nourishment many women treat their families with, success is inevitable.

(Disclaimer: I’m in no way diminishing the role of mothers by comparing children to my career. I love and respect working moms!)

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."