The World Needs YOU :: Moms Re-Entering the Workforce

I was going to be the next Katie Couric. I was sure of it. I’d just graduated from Virginia Tech and I had a degree in Broadcast Journalism in one hand, and a job offer as a news reporter in the other. One of only five people in my program to land a job in my field upon graduation, I was perfectly poised to climb my way up the news media ladder.

But then life happened.

And what I’d hoped would be a climb straight to the top turned out to be a series of shifts and pivots as I navigated my way through changing and difficult times.

“Forget everything you knew about business idioms: The age of climbing the corporate ladder is over. Instead, we’re in the age of jungle gyms.” —Sheryl Sandberg

My first attempt at graduate school was at George Mason University. I had completed three semesters when I started temping at Verizon. (Shift left.) I was eventually hired full-time as a technical writer. (Pivot right.) Identified by leadership as a high-potential employee, I was assigned to a high-profile Y2K contract tasked with updating technology at military hospitals worldwide. (Step up.) The Project Manager on the team was Bob Hauser, who insisted I meet his son from Texas. (*heart eyes*) By the time the project was in its final stages, I was married and living in Dallas. (Move diagonally.)

My second attempt at graduate school was at UT Dallas. I’d left Verizon to be home with my kids after my second child was born and thought it would be a great time to finish the master’s degree I’d started six years before. (Pivot left.) Shortly before classes started, we received an unexpected gift: our third child. (Step sideways.) I delayed my enrollment to focus on my family. (Pause.)

Then my husband died. (Shift. Into. Pure. Survival. Mode.)

Pursuing Work-Life Balance

“I hope you find true meaning, contentment, and passion in your life. I hope you navigate the difficult times and come out with greater strength and resolve. I hope you find whatever balance you seek with your eyes wide open.” —Sheryl Sandberg

After the sudden loss of my husband, I made the biggest shift of all. Instead of going back to the corporate world, I accepted a position as a high school English teacher at a university-model school. It provided the flexibility to juggle both work and family as a single mom. I worked in the classroom three days a week, and the other two days I lesson planned and graded from home. Thankfully, there was free childcare for teachers at the time, so my two youngest came to school with me while I worked.

I learned a lot of valuable lessons those first few years, not all of them easy. For me, and many other professional, educated women, this choice was the way to make my career fit the changing priorities in my life rather than the other way around. It meant sacrificing a higher salary and possible career advancement opportunities. But in the end, the sacrifice has been worth it.

A common misconception about women opting out of the corporate world to work at home is that they somehow lose their “professional” skills. Way too often, women who work at home believe they’re “just a mom”. I totally fell into that trap. When the time came to consider my next career options, I mistakenly believed that somehow I’d been disqualified from having a seat at the corporate leadership table.

I was wrong.

It’s a Jungle (Gym) Out There

Yes, navigating a balanced work-life journey can feel like climbing a jungle gym. It’s strenuous and scary at times. But it also gives the opportunity to explore, stretch, and, let’s face it, get some much-needed exercise. This is true both for women who opt to stay in the workforce, and those who opt to work at home caring for their families.

Redefine Your Personal & Professional Self

“Want to bring more women into your organization? Try recruiting at a PTO meeting.” —Susan Davey

Many women who opt out have the intrinsic motivation to stay active and involved in challenging work: serving as volunteers, chairing non-profit committees, and working part-time in a different field. These women strengthen their emotional intelligence and relationship management skills, skills identified as the most crucial tools of today’s leaders.

Women who choose to leave the workforce for a season can maintain as healthy a work-life balance as women who don’t. And when they’re ready, they can return with confidence, knowing they are more than qualified to make a positive impact.

Resources for Returning to the Workforce

For women like me who are evaluating all their career options, there are many corporate initiatives and resources to support a successful return to the workforce.


“A strong advocate for the unique value that relaunchers bring to the workforce, and for the employers that engage with them, iRelaunch works closely with employers to develop paid re-entry internship programs for returning professionals.”


“Changing the trajectory for women returning to work by partnering with forward-thinking companies to create environments where women thrive, advance, and lead. We select and prepare top female talent who voluntarily off-ramped and are ready to on-ramp into a defined returnship or permanent role. We work with companies who appreciate the skills, perspective, loyalty, and leadership of professional women passionate about bringing their experience, knowledge, and drive to today’s biggest business challenges.”

On Ramp Fellowship

We are building our own unique version of the “Returnship” model—with a robust selection process and a comprehensive training and coaching component. The goal is to provide returning women with additional experience and skills while helping firms replenish their talent pipeline with diverse, high-performers who have a desire to return to and advance in their professions.”

“And I hope that you have the ambition to lean in to your career….because the world needs you to change it.”  —Sheryl Sandberg

My third attempt at graduate school was the charm. I graduated in December, the day after I turned 50. I now have a Master’s Degree in Leadership and Organizational Development in one hand, and a lifetime of relevant, valuable experience in other.

Companies are aware of the need for and benefits of diversity in leadership and they’re focusing their attention on the pool of talented and qualified female professionals.

The world needs us. The world needs YOU, mamas!

{Read More: Working Moms Roundtable}

Alisa Hauser
Alisa’s 15 minutes of fame was as a news reporter just after college. These days, she embraces multiple roles – a mom of three (one teenager and two who are #adulting), a writing consultant, and a college application coach. When she’s not in a Zoom session, you can find her in her backyard with a chiminea fire. She loves indie movies, eclectic music, random road trips, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, her family "bubble", and her cat Jack Jack (although not necessarily in that order). She grew up as a military brat, residing in four countries and eleven states before settling in the Dallas area. After 20 years here, and with the help of her Aggie daughter, she can seamlessly use “y’all” and “howdy” in a sentence like a true Texan.