VT: Tell us about yourself.
KJ: I am a mom of two (9-year old son & 7-year old daughter), and I was trained as a lawyer. After having my first child, my family relocated from Washington, D.C. back to Westchester, NY (where I grew up). I stayed home for a few years, through the time my second child was about 1.5 years old. I then started a part-time job as a legal writing coach, where I could use my legal education, and get out into the professional world a bit, but still largely stay at home. Last year, I really focused my energy on getting myself back into the workforce full time. A few months ago, I started work as a career counselor at a law school.
VT: What was your most difficult challenges and how did you overcome it?
KJ: I really struggled with deciding what I wanted to do with my career. I had so many options that I had a hard time narrowing my choices. But, I finally concluded that I wanted to use my legal degree. I also found the Myers-Briggs test to be really helpful, because it helped me to identify which kinds of jobs would be fulfilling for me. Those two things really helped me to narrow my choices.
VT: Tell us about your journey back to work.
KJ: Although I had been working part time for several years, I didn't think that what I was doing was a career for me - it was more of a job that worked really well for me when my kids were young. I had occasionally applied to jobs over the years (through a passive job search), but nothing was the right fit. So, about a year and a half ago, when my daughter started Kindergarten, I decided to really focus my energy on finding a career path for myself. I knew that I didn't want to practice law, but I wasn't sure what would fulfill me professionally. Initially, I cast my net very wide, considering a range of careers from baking to nutrition to law and law-related jobs. I did a lot of soul searching and identified which strengths and personality traits I wanted to use in my next job. And, honestly, I applied to a lot of random jobs that either sounded interesting, or sometimes that just seemed practical given the hours and location of the job. But when I saw a posting for my current job, I felt that I had finally found a position in which I could use my skills, feel the satisfaction that I was helping people, and have the kind of work-life balance that I wanted.
VT: Were there any questions asked during any of your interviews that were surprising to you?
KJ: During one of my interviews for my current job, I was asked about a decision I had made that I regretted. I was definitely caught off guard, but thankfully was able to think on my feet.
VT: You also made a career change in your current role. Tell us about this and what led you to this point?
KJ: I had previously decided that I didn't want to practice law. But, I wasn't sure what I did want to do. Through my job-search process, I figured out several things about myself that helped me identify fields that would be a good fit for me: 1) I am much more successful and happy working collaboratively with other people than on my own; 2) I wanted a job where I could use the skills I had developed as a legal writing coach; 3) I wanted to feel like I was helping people; and 4) I work better on shorter-term tasks than on long-term projects. All of these things made me realize that my current job would be a good fit for me.
VT: How did belonging to Vermilion's talent community help you?
KJ: Being a part of the Vermilion community was very helpful as I proceeded through my job search. Learning about other people's journeys helped me feel like I was not alone, and like it was okay for me to take a while to figure out my next steps. In addition, Vermilion's programming was very relevant and helpful; one program in particular, during which we discussed our results on the Myers-Briggs test, was extremely helpful as I tried to identify what I was looking for in my next job.
VT: What adjustments have you had to make in your home system as you re-entered the full-time workforce? Any surprises?
KJ: I was really ready to go back to work full time when I started. But, I was definitely surprised by how difficult it was to get a good, reliable part-time babysitter. Having now spoken to many other working moms, I have learned that almost everyone has the same issues with childcare, and that those remain the most difficult part about being a working mom.
VT: What do you recommend for those who are going out on their first interview after a career break?
KJ: I would recommend that you be careful to not undersell yourself in your first interview. After several interviews, I realized that I had been either undervaluing my skills or signaling my apprehension about the job. I did much better in interviews when I was confident and when I was really ready for the change in my life circumstances.
VT: We often encourage women in our community to always be prepared to deliver your "elevator pitch." Any tips?
KJ: Identify the 3-5 things about yourself that you want to communicate, and practice delivering your pitch. You'd be surprised how much easier it is to deliver your pitch comfortably after you've practiced aloud a few times.
VT: Any parting words of advice for our talent community?
KJ: Before I got my current job, I had interviewed for many jobs that weren't the right fit for me. I had actually decided to stop actively looking for a while, because I figured that it wasn't meant to be. Then, I saw the posting for my current job. My advice is to be patient and to not give up.