Go Ask Mom

Back to Work: reacHIRE helps women transitioning back to workforce

Pamela DeLoatch, a recent graduate of the reacHIRE program, shares how it helped her find a way back to full-time work after 21 years as a stay-at-home mom.

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Pamela DeLoatch, reacHIRE certified graduate
Sarah Lindenfeld Hall

Pamela DeLoatch has never stopped working. But, like many stay-at-home moms, she stopped getting paid for the important work she was doing - raising four kids and running her household.

DeLoatch is a Cary mom of four kids, ages 17 to 22, with a master's degree in business administration from Duke University and plenty of experience juggling schedules and tasks and getting things done quickly and efficiently. Now that DeLoatch's youngest is making college plans next year, she's thinking about what's next for her.

Since leaving the 9-to-5 workforce 21 years ago to stay home with her growing family, DeLoatch has dabbled in paid work. She and her husband owned a business together. She also has worked as a freelance writer. (Full disclosure: I had the pleasure of working with DeLoatch in a previous job and, potential employers, she is awesome!).

With all four of her children nearly out of the house, DeLoatch wondered if there was space for her in the corporate world again. That's where reacHIRE came in. DeLoatch is part of the first Research Triangle Park graduating class of reacHIRE, a Boston-based organization that helps women transition back to the workforce.
reachHIRE's career re-entry program offers women with an opportunity to refresh their professional skills and take advantage of career coaching and assessment. It also matches them with a paid project assignment at a local company. Groups of 15 to 20 women take part in the program together where they learn from each other and serve as a support network even after graduation. (Addie Swartz, reacHIRE's CEO, recently shared some great re-entry tips in Working Mother.).
reachHIRE is looking to fill spaces for its next program, which costs participants $1,995, in Research Triangle Park. Free information sessions are scheduled for Jan. 26 and Feb. 4. Space is limited. Be sure to follow those links to sign up. Not all applicants are admitted to the program. They must be accepted to take part.

I checked in with DeLoatch to learn more about the program and how reacHIRE has set her on a new path toward her next career stop. Here's our email conversation.

Go Ask Mom: Tell us about your work experience. How long have you been out of the workforce and why did you leave?
Pamela DeLoatch: I worked in human resources for about five years and left the workforce after my second son was born — 21 years ago. Our company was being restructured and my job was being eliminated. I could have transferred to another division, but between that uncertainty and my desire to be home with my two babies, my husband and I agreed that I should stay home. Subsequently, we had two more children and, for us, it was impractical for me to return to work while juggling four little ones.

Since then, my husband and I owned a business for a few years, where I used my HR and marketing skills, and then about eight years ago, I started my own freelance writing business, creating marketing content for other businesses. The flexibility of freelancing was perfect because I could scale my work hours as needed, depending on my children’s schedules.

GAM: When and why did you make the decision to go back to work?
PD: As my children got older, I considered going back to work, but worried I no longer had the skills I needed. I applied to some full-time jobs, but got few responses. As more time passed, I thought the opportunity to re-ignite my career full-time had passed by.

In the last year, with my youngest child getting ready for college, I began wondering two things: How can I contribute to college tuition for three kids next year, and, even more importantly, as this current phase of Mommy-hood comes to an end, what’s my next step? As my child began preparing for her adventure, what would be mine? I was trying to figure that out, but had no answers until I heard about reacHIRE.

GAM: How did you get involved in reacHIRE? How was the program helpful for you?
PD: I was very fortunate. Many years ago, my husband worked with a woman who, like me, left the corporate environment and became an at-home mom. Recently, she participated in the reacHIRE program and loved both her project assignment and subsequent contract position. She’s in Boston, where reacHIRE originated, but when she heard reacHIRE was coming to RTP, she tagged Bryan (my husband) with the information in case I was interested. I talked with her at length and was intrigued. I went to the introductory meeting and was very excited that there was a path and support for getting back to work. I applied, interviewed and was thrilled to be accepted.

The program has been exceptional. The support and direction of the leadership team; the exposure to the cohort of wonderful, talented, experienced women; the sessions, which included information on project management, presentations, data analytics; the visits and tours of area corporations that served as reacHIRE training partners — these all helped me recognize my strengths and envision myself contributing to organizations.

GAM: What are the big lessons that you've learned as a mom seeking to re-enter the workforce? Would you encourage them to consider reacHIRE?
PD: Most moms I know tend to talk about their children’s successes instead of their own — and that’s fine, but as a result, we sometimes overlook or minimize what we’ve accomplished. reacHIRE gave me the space to think about and highlight my abilities, talents and successes. I learned that the lessons, maturity and perspective I’ve gained as a mom are imminently transferable to a work environment, and that organizations want and need those talents. For me, the key is recognizing them, articulating how I can use those to benefit an organization and (through reacHIRE) identifying those organizations that most appreciate what returning moms can offer.

I definitely encourage moms to consider reacHIRE. I’ll be honest — you may not feel completely ready when you first start with the program. You may wonder how you will handle childcare details if you start working, but I think if you’re ready to take the leap, the details will fall into place. reacHIRE is a rare opportunity — don’t let it pass you by.

GAM: What are your hopes for your own future?
PD: Most immediately, I’m looking forward to beginning a project assignment with a corporation. I’m excited about the potential projects and am looking forward to contributing in a company environment.

Longer term, I hope to work in a corporation, where I can continue to learn, but at the same time where I feel confident that what I add is important and valuable.

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