'I Thought the Chance to Re-Ignite My Career Passed Me by. I Was Wrong'

Women back to workPamela DeLoatch has never stopped working. But like many stay-at-home moms, she stopped getting paid for the important work she was doing—raising four kids and running a household.

A recent graduate of reacHIRE a Boston-based organization that develops custom programs for women looking to transition back to the workforce, DeLoatch tells Spring.St about her time out of the workforce.

I worked in human resources for about five years and left the workforce after my second son was born, 21 years ago. Our company was being restructured and my job was being eliminated.

I could have transferred to another division, but between that uncertainty and my desire to be home with my two babies, my husband and I agreed that I should stay home. Subsequently, we had two more children and for us, it was impractical for me to return to work while juggling four little ones.

Since then, my husband and I owned a business for a few years, where I used my HR and marketing skills, and then about eight years ago, I started my own freelance writing business, creating marketing content for other businesses.

The flexibility of freelancing was perfect because I could scale my work hours as needed, depending on my children's schedules.

As my children got older, I considered going back to work but worried I no longer had the skills I needed. I applied to some full-time jobs but got few responses. As more time passed, I thought the opportunity to re-ignite my career full-time had passed by.

In the last year, with my youngest child getting ready for college, I began wondering two things: How can I contribute to college tuition for three kids next year, and more importantly, as this current phase of Mommy-hood comes to an end, what's my next step?

As my child began preparing for her adventure, what would be mine? I was trying to figure that out but had no answers until I heard about reacHIRE.

I was very fortunate. Many years ago, my husband worked with a woman who, like me, left the corporate environment and became an at-home mom.

Recently, she participated in the reacHIRE program and loved both her project assignment and subsequent contract position. She's in Boston, where reacHIRE originated, but when she heard reacHIRE was coming to Research Triangle Park [in Piedmont, NC], she tagged my husband with the information in case I was interested.

I talked with her at length and was intrigued. I went to an introductory meeting. It made me very excited to see there was a path, and support, for getting back to work. I applied, interviewed, and was thrilled to be accepted.

The program has been exceptional. The support and direction of the leadership team; the exposure to the cohort of wonderful, talented, experienced women; the sessions, which include information on project management, presentations, data analytics; visits and tours of area corporations that served as reacHIRE training partners—these all helped me recognize my strengths and envision myself contributing to organizations.

Most moms I know tend to talk about their children’s successes instead of their own—and that’s fine. But too often we overlook or minimize what we've accomplished ourselves.

ReacHIRE gave me the space to think about and highlight my abilities, talents and successes. I learned that the lessons, maturity, and perspective I've gained as a mom are imminently transferable to a work environment and that organizations want and need those talents.

Now I'm looking forward to beginning a project assignment with a corporation. I'm excited about the potential and am looking forward to contributing in a company environment.

Longer term, I hope to work in a corporate environment, where I can continue to learn, but at the same time where I feel confident that what I add is important and valuable.

For me, the key to the training I received through reacHIRE is recognizing my skills, articulating how I can use those to benefit an organization and, with help from the program, identifying those organizations that most appreciate what returning moms can offer.

I'll be honest: You may not feel completely ready when you start down this path. You may wonder how you will handle childcare details if you start working. But I think if you're ready to take the leap, the details will fall into place.

It's a rare opportunity—don't let it pass you by.

This story is part of Spring.St's Back to Work series. You can find more here.