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Go Ask Mom

Career Relaunch: Raleigh mom brings back-to-work program for other moms to Triangle

Posted August 7, 2016

Janet Hammond

Janet Hammond stepped back from her career years ago to care for her girls, now college students, when they were babies.

Hammond, who had worked for a Canadian investment firm after graduating from college, had every intention of returning to the workforce five years later, once her girls reached grade school. But, life got in the way.

Hammond and her husband, originally from Canada, moved to Minnesota and then Raleigh. Hammond had no business network here, no family to help her care for her girls when she went back to work and few job prospects. She eventually managed to land a job at RBC Bank, which she lost five years later when PNC Bank bought the business out.

Meanwhile, she had the busy lives of her girls to manage. Thankful that her family's financial situation didn't require that she return to work, she threw herself into family duties and volunteer jobs. But, she said, something was always missing.

"I enjoy the camaraderie," Hammond said. "I enjoyed using my intellect. ... I felt like I had a lot to offer."

Through a series of events that began with the Back to Business Women's Conference in the Triangle last October, Hammond got connected with Inspiring Capital, a New York-based program that helps reconnect women to jobs in the social sector. Think non-profits, foundations and corporate responsibility programs.

The jobs fit well for moms, who may have taken some time off, but are eager to return to their careers and, after years of volunteering at their kids' schools or in their community, are looking for meaningful work. The sector also offers more flexibility and opportunities for part-time work than traditional 9-to-5 jobs, Hammond said.

The four-day program gives women a chance to learn more about the kinds of jobs available and build a network of professionals in those jobs now and women, like them, looking for work.

In September, thanks to Hammond's initiative, the program will launch its very first program outside of New York here in the Triangle. During those four days, women will go to HQ Raleigh, Burt's Bees and the United Way of the Greater Triangle to learn more about the work there and make connections.

"There's a lot of value in building not just your network, but your cohort, for support and growth," said Hammond, who parlayed her efforts into a job with Inspiring Capital. She's women's program associate.

"I've haven't been this excited in a long time," said Hammond, who, until recently also had found part-time work at UNC Kenan-Flagler's Center for Sustainable Enterprise. "I can't believe what's happening. It's just reinvigorating."

Hammond is excited about the work she's doing, but also eager to help women find a place for themselves in the workforce. After the Back to Business Conference, Hammond and a group of other local women started North Raleigh Relaunch, which began with five and has grown to 30 women, including engineers, lawyers and other professionals who want to get back to work.

"Not all of them are interested in the social sector specifically," Hammond tells me, "but, just through word of mouth, we have grown to the point where we have monthly speakers and our own LinkedIn group."

When Hammond graduated from business school, any career break was terminal. She's hopeful that programs like Inspiring Capital can make a difference, giving future generations, like her own daughters, better options if they choose to stay at home for a few years with their children.

"I'm happy they can see this side of me," Hammond said. "But the bigger picture is so things can be different for them. Perhaps taking a brief time off is a zag in a career instead of a death sentence. ... Just because you stopped working doesn't mean you don't still have a lot to offer."

Inspiring Capital is designed for professional women looking to re-enter the workforce. The tuition is $1,750 for the four-day program, which also includes programs and networking opportunities once it's over. The first cohort begins Sept. 8. More information is on Inspiring Capital's website.

Inspiring Capital will celebrate the women re-defining social impact in the Triangle at its first quarterly networking event on Aug. 9 at the Loading Dock. The event features a panel of social changemakers from across the sector, and a room full of influencers, innovators, educators, volunteers, students and women looking to re-enter the workforce at social impact orgs. Register today to reserve your ticket (space is limited).

Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.


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