Is Social Work A Good Career

If we froze Diane’s career story right here, we’d see everything so many have told us about “opting out.” If only Diane had stayed the course, hadn’t left her career to focus on her family, she could have been leading a company, driving change, and modeling for the next generation of women who aspire to great heights. Instead, she was struggling to figure out how to get back in.

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But Diane’s career didn’t end there. She used her network to find a consulting job in marketing at GSVlabs, a start-up incubator in Silicon Valley. Within six months, she was hired full-time to become their chief marketing officer. And, to help women like her, she co-founded ReBoot Accelerator, a skills training program for re-entering moms. Like so many of the women I interviewed for this book, Diane worked, paused, and thrived. Despite her extended career break, she is now a model of female leadership.

Diane told me, “Everything I’ve done has led to where I am today. I have no regrets now, but I spent years filled with self-doubt. It wasn’t easy, but it was all worth it.”

We don’t often read about successful women like Diane Flynn. Why? Because pulling back on one’s career to put family first is anathema to our work-first culture. One of the most telling passages in Sheryl Sandberg’s game-changing book is where she recounts what Judith Rodin, the first woman to serve as president of an Ivy League university and currently president of the Rockefeller Foundation, said to a group of mid-career women: “My generation fought so hard to give all of you choices. We believe in choices. But choosing to leave the workforce was not the choice we thought so many of you would make.”3

Because a successful career has traditionally been defined as one in which the individual subsumes everything to rise to the top of their profession and does so as quickly as possible, the idea that someone can have a career that is less linear, takes longer, and allows for priorities other than one’s job is hard for many of us to accept. Pausing flies in the face of what those before us have defined as success. To some, like Rodin, leaving the workplace is tantamount to giving up. But “leaving” the workforce that is to say, pausing is not abandoning ambition.

Pausing takes the long view on one’s career and honors the reality that sometimes we must reframe our priorities to meet the immediate needs of our family. Doing so doesn’t have to end a woman’s career. In fact, it can lead to even greater success than if she had stayed on the traditional career ladder. For many successful women pausing was essential to their path to the top.

Pausing takes the long view on one’s career and honors the reality that sometimes we must reframe our priorities to meet the immediate needs of our family.

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