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Where is my career going?

November 8th, 2008 at 07:49 am

Nearly 4 years ago I was recruited to a job that exactly matched my career ambitions -- team lead/manager of a small group of software engineers. One month later I got pregnant. It was a happy surprise -- we'd be dealing with infertility for 3 years and just didn't know how or when we would become parents. For many months the question on my mind was, "Should I give up this great career opportunity to fully enjoy my baby?"

3 years ago, having a blast being a SAHM to my little munchkin, my question was, "How long can I stay out?"

1.5 years ago, feeling a little restless and in need of some intellectual activity, the question became, "Will I be able to get back in when I want to?"

And now while working in an ideal situation -- 20-25 hr/wk from home -- the question changes to, "Where is my career going?"

The conflict I feel comes down to time vs type of work. My preference is to work 20-25 hr/wk now, perhaps increasing to 30-35 hr/wk when my son starts kindergarten. The president of the contracting firm I am with has been amazing -- in addition to 4 full-time engineers, he's taken on 3 women with small children who want to work part-time as well as a part-time guy who is moonlighting, and has been very willing to tailor the assignments to the number of hours we want to work. He is building the firm, and as long as he continues to bring in projects there will probably be work for me.

The work itself is ok, but not exactly what I dream of doing. It's writing software -- designing, coding, testing -lots of software engineers are perfectly happy doing just that. Clients bring us in when there is small project they don't have enough staff to handle on their own, or if they need some help bringing up Linux on new hardware. So far it's been mostly telecommunications equipment, some military applications, and some medical equipment. I'm learning a lot of Linux, which is great for the resume. If I'm doing implementation, my dream would be working on a project that has special meaning -- for instance creating communication assistance devices for autistic kids.

In my heart I would prefer to get away from programming. I'd love to be either a systems engineer who designs the architecture for the whole product, or to go back into team/project management and organize the efforts of 10-12 people to make the product come together. The road to those jobs is to rejoin the corporate world and work 50-60 hour weeks.

At some point, perhaps when my son starts kindergarten, I plan to put my resume out to some headhunters and advertise myself as looking for a job-share. Surely there is another woman out there facing the same delima that I am...

3 Responses to “Where is my career going?”

  1. thriftorama Says:

    I think these issues are what all moms struggle with, including me. My bean is 7 months old. My salary makes day care not worthwhile financially, so I am stuck at home, trying to freelance when I can, but even those jobs are limited by how much my mom or MIL can babysit. I wish there were easy answers and solutions.

  2. cptacek Says:

    I don't know if you would want to tell me, but where do you work? I am a coder, and I know UNIX, but not Linux, but I've always been able to pick up anything that comes my way. I HAVE to find a telecommuting job, even if I have to travel some of the time. If you don't mind, shoot me an email...

  3. zetta Says:

    Your best bet for finding something is by networking with former coworkers. Perhaps someone who knows the quality of your work has become a manager and has a small project they need to outsource, or knows someone who has started a consulting firm.

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