I'm not sure where to start, so I'll just jump in!
I have been a SAHM for the past 10 years. I have a Master Degree in Structural Engineering, but never worked long enough to get my PE, which I totally regret now. Our family is having financial stress, which is adding a lot of stress to dh and my relationship. I am beginning to consider going back to work, but am totally lost in how to start! My first instinct is to go back to school for a little bit to refresh my memory, but I live in a very small town, so classes would be limited. I looked at an online MS degree, but I already have my MS and with money being so tight, I don't know if I can afford to do that.
It has been soooo long since I worked, and honestly I kind of hated the work I could do in our small town. The fact remains that dh's not able to earn enough to support us and I'm feeling like I need to pick up the slack. . .
So, has anyone else returned to their profession after a long absence? How did you freshen up your skill set? I thought about going to some continuing education seminars, but would love any advice or encouragement I could get!
Living the good life
It looks like your post might have been missed so I'm bumping it up for attention. Anyone have some BTDT experience to share? OP, I hope you find your way easily through the path back to your profession and that working eases the stresses that have been on you and your family.
I have been a SAHM for almost 8 years. I have a BA in English and never used it or had a career pre-kids, so when I separated I immediately started looking for work, and it was a huge disappointment. I applied for hundreds of jobs. I ultimately decided to go back to school and work on getting my license to teach English/Language Arts. I am not guaranteed a job. I could have just sat here saving up money and waiting it out another year and getting a job when dd turns four but I took the risk and the debt of more school. I do not know how it will pan out since I am still not ready to apply for teaching positions. That will be dependent on passing the Praxis next week. If I fail, then I will go full force into getting a good para/teacher's aid position in my town. I have been told (per a teacher friend) since I now have teaching related courses I shouldn't have a problem getting an assistant position within a school district. (I had previously applied for at least a couple dozen aid/para positions in many districts and did not even get a phone call for an interview. )
A few things: is there anything you can go without? Have your squeezed the extras out of the budget? How old are the kids? Will there be daycare costs? Could you babysit for spare money if the kids are younger?
Do you want to work in your original degree area? Is there something else you could apply your previous education to? I was only off work for 3 years, but it's hard to get back into a decent position with any kind of gap on your resume, and 10 years seems like a really long time in any field. I think you'd almost certainly have to brush up with some fresh education/certifications/volunteer work of some kind. I was laid off from an IT position while pregnant when the economy tanked and after nearly 3 years I decided to go to school to get a teaching degree. (I went to an online college so it wasn't incredibly expensive, as far as graduate degrees go.) And then, ironically, I ended up getting a degree in my old field because then "going to school" filled up so much of the gap in my resume and I had developed some good portfolio samples in the mean time.
I didn't take a break, but your idea of going to some conferences, especially national ones, would be good. It would serve to help you brush up on your skills, as well as give you a chance to talk to people and network. This might help you figure out if you still want to work in this field.
Can you explain what it means in engineering to get your PE? Is that a credential? Is it something you could still do?
Thanks for all of the replies!
Lauren- Getting your PE means getting your Professional Engineer's license. Without my PE I can only work under another engineer because I don't have a license to guarantee my work (you could compare it to taking the Barr for lawyers or being board certified as a doctor). I looked into getting my PE after all of this time and it turns out they have increased the requirements. I'd have to work for another 4 years before I could even try to take the exam :(
It seems like it might be best if I got a job in a related field or started with some classes/seminars first. My decision making process is clouded by the fact that my dh is looking into getting work out of state or out of country. Going to an ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) conference could be a great start.
Living the good life
I was a SAHM for 7-8 years before reentering my profession. It was tough! I was able to do a fair amount of continuing ed, conferences, networked through volunteer "jobs"over the couple years prior to returning. I sat for another certification in my profession and received a job offer from a contact that I had volunteered with. That job lasted 2 years before budget cuts left me jobless again. I am now working but not in my profession. I am unable to work full-time and part time jobs in my line on work are few and far between. DH owns a business so I'm doing some accounting work for him so that I can continue work around the kids. I am still keeping up on my certifications, continuing ed, and conferences in my actual profession and will try to re-enter that yet again someday.
I say go for it. It may spur your dh to be more ambitious, and at a minimum it will give you the ability to make choices about your life from a standpoint of financial independence.
I can't tell you enough how much it helped me to find some good mentors. I contacted one from college who helped me from the beginning of my career restart. I found another one at that first contract I got. Both of them know I produce good work and will vouch for me and network for me, as well as hire me when they have contracts that fit my skills. Having good mentors has helped incredibly to compensate for the lack of a graduate degree and for the 6-year gap.