I remember being a kid and seeing my neighbor's wife all decked out in her designer suits and high heels getting home from working in NYC off the express bus that dropped off near my house and thinking, "I want to do that." It helped me think that way that my grandma always said how much she admired her for getting that high powered job and wearing those power suits when she had only the option to work in a factory or a department store.
I did not always process how hard the woman's life might have been with two young kids and a husband, who like all husbands, maybe did not do as much work around the house and kids as she did. (Please do not attack me on this, books have been written about the inequitable split of household and childrearing activities to the "mom" or the "mom figure" - I am projecting as I did not live in their house...well, you get the idea.)
My goal during college was to get a high paying job, to be a true "girl boss" and I did everything to make it so. I have posted on my other blog www.thenextstep1234.com/blog about my college resume and how focused I was in getting this "Career" up and running. I took a minor detour to the career part by getting a full tuition scholarship to go to the Rome, Italy campus of my alma mater to get my MBA. I remember telling the neighbor lady that I was going to get my MBA in Rome and she said, "Why would you do that? You need a job - moving to Rome, NY is a bad move." And then I said, "No, I am going to Rome, Italy." And she said, "Well, that's a different story - GO!"
She got me the most beautiful personalized stationary, that I still have a few pieces left of even now almost 20 years later, and though I never told her and we really were NOT that close, she inspired me to build this plan for myself of power suits and management life.
When I came back with my MBA, I hit the ground running at Merrill Lynch in Jersey City (now Bank of America), Skudder Kemper Investments incubator program in Boston, Standard & Poor's in downtown NYC, McGraw-Hill Education by Penn Station, Marsh in upper midtown. And through those careers and years of power suits and sensible shoes (I learned early on I could not do the high heel thing) things changed for me.
The girl who my grandfather relished in bragging about saying, "My granddaughter will never have children - she is too busy, her husband will have to have the children!" (Which he said to the very Sicilian father of my then-boyfriend and shows he liked to stick the knife in and twist it - all good-naturedly of course but this potential father in law of mine did not want to hear of his son having a baby). Well, that girl was gone. All of a sudden, even though I used to even tell my grandmother that I had no intention of getting married or having kids until I was "at least 40" found myself married at 28 and a mom for the first time at 30 and again at 33. I still joke that I do not know how it happened. In fact, colleagues from my earlier career portions CANNOT believe that I got married and had kids. It is a long running joke about how it happened. I still do not know.
Something in the balance changed for me - or lack thereof. There were issues, I needed to be closer to handle them and I switched to my fall back - the most "prestigious" job I ever did - that of "College Professor". I had begun that career in 2003 and it was always something I kept open even working at night at the Manhattan Campus of St John's while working full time at my big executive job at Marsh while pregnant with my daughter.
So for a while, I worked part time as an adjunct cobbling together some salary (never a lot - nothing compared to what I had been making). We made do - with help and as frugally as possible.
Then, I started my entrepreneurship kick in full force and started making some inroads, wrote some books and had the potential to make it work BUT if you have never been an entrepreneur, let me tell you about the "dark side" - the dark side is the focus you have to build your business and the pain you feel when something that seems like a perfect fit for you and your company is not even an option for you despite promoting, press and more. It is not something I truly enjoyed doing along with the whole "pimping" out of the business to try to earn money.
As much as I "enjoyed" it all, I "hated" it, too. When I got offered a full time teaching job, I jumped at it thinking it would be perfect for me. It was not - long story, different time.
Now, I am thinking it is time for me to dust off my professional credentials, my degrees, my project management certification and get out there into the big world of power suits and sensible flats. I did not think I would ever want to do this again because for all that it defined me and my childhood lessons about "never depending on a man or anyone" and wearing those suits and working - I ran away from it for so long to focus on home and hearth. Me, who was voted most likely to be CEO of a big company, was technically more of a stay at home mom than a career person.
I treasure the time I have spent home with my kids but I know now that although life is short, there is still time for me to be me - for me to focus on a combination of my past, present and future to take my own big step back into Corporate.
This is what I do during the time between.
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