Dear Christine, I have been out on an extended maternity leave (almost 8 years) and have found very little information on what it is like to rejoin the workforce after such a long break. Have you ever written a blog entry on this? Any suggestions on a voice of authority? I am not ready just yet, but the longer I am out the scarier the prospect becomes.
Thanks for writing in. This is an excellent question, and I know it is one that many, many moms grapple with.
Two resources immediately come to mind. The first is the Detours & OnRamps forum. I have spoken at this event twice when it has come to Boston (both times hosted at Bentley); it is a day long event that focuses on helping women figure out how to re-enter the workforce, balance work and family, and explore entrepreneurism. I'm not sure whether the forum will return to Boston again next year, but it is worth keeping an eye on. The setting is very intimate (maybe 100-200 participants), which makes for a warm and non-threatening environment, and the panels I have listened in on have been very informative.
The second resource is Carol Fishman Cohen. I first heard Carol speak at Detours & OnRamps and later featured her in my Boston Mamas Rock! interview series. Carol is a career specialist who focuses on helping women re-enter the workforce. I highly recommend you read my interview with Carol, but in short, she is the co-founder of iRelaunch (through which she organizes conferences and coaching programs about career re-entry) and co-author of Back on the Career Track: A Guide for Stay-at-Home Moms Who Want to Return to Work (which covers the nuts and bolts for relaunching).
If you check out iRelaunch's events, you'll see that many events are local, but they also travel. It also turns out that they are launching virtual relaunch coaching circles in September; you can participate from the comfort of your home. And while the September virtual circles might be too soon for you (since you mentioned you're not ready just yet), I thought I'd also share that iRelaunch will host a return to work conference at Bentley next spring (May 19, 2011). It's not on their events calendar yet, but when I received your e-mail, I immediately contacted Carol to see if they were hosting in Boston soon and that is the date she provided to me.
I hope this is helpful Sue! I wish you the best of luck when you start down the path to career re-entry. I know it won't be easy, but never underestimate the power of a mom to tackle new challenges!
Have a question for Christine? Drop her a line! And of course feel free to comment in if you have recommendations beyond those made above.