#MondayMentoring: When I Have Never Worked Before, How Do I Start My Career?

Posted: November 9, 2015

Getting back into the technology field can be daunting after a long gap. How do I start my career when I never joined work after college?

Every Monday, the Women’s Web expert panel answers questions from readers about workplace issues, career challenges and anything at all related to learning and work.

I am a 27-year-old married mother of a daughter. I need career counseling. It’s been 5 years since I have done my post graduation in IT. I did not get a job then because I got married and then I got pregnant. But now when I try to study again it seems that I have forgotten all the things. IT seems so difficult now, which was so easy back then; plus, I am not able to focus with a kid clinging to me 24/7.

What do I do now? Should I go back to IT or try any other option? I love cooking so I was thinking may be I should do some course in that or may be psychology. I am happily married but my husband’s job requires him to stay away from home for many days. I am looking for a career option so that I can work and take care of my child and home as well. I don’t want longer working hours – something that fulfills my wish of earning and taking care of my kid.

– PS

Dear PS,

First of all, congratulations on taking your first step into getting into the paid workforce! Wishing for something and wishing for it hard enough is the first step to gaining it, isn’t it?

That said, you need to ask yourself a few questions to understand what your next steps should be.

Ask yourself:

  • Do I feel passionate about IT (or technology in general)? Passionate enough to put in a lot of hard work to understand the subject again, given that 5 years will mean significant changes?
  • What is the most important motivator for me in returning to work? (Earning money? Making use of a skill?)
  • How much time do I have on a daily basis? Are there ways in which I can extend this time a little?
  • What am I willing to give up and what am I not willing to give up? (For instance, you may be able/willing to give up on one hour of sleep every morning to study, but you may not be able or willing to give up certain household chores. This will vary from one individual to another)
  • Do you have a decent chunk of time at one go (say 4 hours) or will your working day be broken up into many small slots? (Many employers may need some continuous time but freelancing could work even with slots of time distributed over the day.)
  • Would I be more comfortable working in a team or by myself?
  • Would I prefer a monthly fixed salary or am I okay taking the risk of less or more money each month? (If you work by yourself as a freelancer, you will have some element of risk).

If you can think through and answer these questions for yourself, you will find it easier to make a decision.

Whether or not you should choose IT or cooking or anything else will depend on what matters to you most, how much time you have available and what else you are willing to give up. No one else can really make that choice for you, but if you come to the conclusion that you have only 3 hours a day, but that you are most passionate about technology, then you can figure out how to use those 3 hours in the best manner possible. You could allocate an hour for study and two hours to work to volunteer projects. For instance, you could offer to do IT related work for an NGO or a friend or relative’s business or even for your child’s school.

Volunteering your time in the field you choose will help you put some experience on your resume, which you can then use to search for part-time jobs, or even freelance, especially if time continues to be a constraint. In your case, since you have never worked, it is important to get some live experience to boost your own confidence, add to your resume and give you some valuable skills that cannot be gained only from studying.

Finally, some things can never be gauged only by thinking about them. Once you have thought these things through, you will need to plunge in and find out if that field works for you. Give yourself 6 months to a year to learn and work in a particular field, and you will get a better understanding of whether it is the right option for you.

Even if it turns out to be the wrong choice, you will have learnt something valuable and made some useful contacts, so the experience is worth it.

Good luck!

Have a question that you would like to run by an expert and get an opinion? Use this form to ask!

Top image via Shutterstock

 

Founder, Editor of Women's Web, Aparna believes in the power of ideas and conversations

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