Real-life experience for the work world

There is nothing as fun as sitting down with other parents and comparing notes on ages and stages of your children, as well as celebrating and lamenting the lives we lead in this marathon parenting journey. I have several friends who dedicated their lives to raising their families, foregoing careers and the hectic work-life balance challenges embedded in juggling both, but now face a return to the workforce. You can imagine how daunting it is to sit down in front of a computer and try and itemize your skills, after committing yourself solely to parenting for 20 years.

However, with the addition of a good bottle of white, the ideas began to flow. Like all good job seekers, we began by taking stock of our skills and crafting them into corporate language. It’s really straight out of What Colour is My Parachute, but with the wine mixed in we found ourselves becoming quite creative in our approach. We were also clear – once again, I blame the wine – that we were not aiming for entry level positions. With 20 years of practical experience, we targeted four key positions that we felt we were uniquely qualified to fill.

1. Head Scheduler for the NHL

Experience: Ability to download hockey game and practice schedules for all levels of league play; analyze and interpret communications from team management, prioritizing needs; field requests for tournament availability; organize equipment sizing (for players who are constantly changing size); organize fundraising; integrate multiple on-ice and off-ice training sessions; obtain and maintain hockey equipment; manage hotel reservations; determine transportation for multiple players at multiple rinks (i.e. which parent is driving where and for which child), and calculate travel times in all seasons and traffic conditions, ensuring on-ice availability with nutritional needs achieved.

2. Air Traffic Controller

Experience: Ability to move 30 small bodies (grade school children) with varied destinations into one elongated vehicle (school bus) safely and on time; ability to determine that passenger safety is maintained at all times (i.e. all children who left the school on the field trip are returned to the school after the field trip); ability to anticipate and avert accidents; ability to problem solve under pressure. At this point, I believe I would add in that I once managed to add a child to the return trip from the Toronto Symphony – it played havoc with another school’s field trip, but to be fair, the child was my friend’s son, and I simply forgot that he attended another school and hustled him onto our bus.

3. Hazardous Materials Cleanup Team Lead

Experience: Ability to clean up infectious waste in crisis situations (a 72-hour stomach virus that passed from family member to family member over a hellish March Break); ability to clean up dangerous materials, avoiding further injury (“put down your hockey stick, get up on the couch and how many times have I told you no hockey in the house. Don’t move.  I’ll get the broom and clean up this glass”); ability to dispose of fatalities (dead goldfish, gerbils, hamsters) effectively and safely; ability to manage post-incident trauma (crying children) and return operations to normal in an effective manner (get everyone to school on Monday).

4. Head of Fleet Management for UPS

Experience: Ability to move multiple Underage Persons with Sports (UPSs) from point to point on time; ability to ensure logistics are coordinated with appropriate dependencies (i.e. if Alex has soccer at 8 p.m. in Markham, we need to have John picked up at his hockey practice and returned home by 6 p.m. in order to feed and water the driver, change over the sports equipment, and refuel the vehicle for next run); ability to negotiate both urban and rural areas in all road conditions; ability to anticipate traffic patterns, and ensure appropriate passenger levels to utilize car pool lanes legally (apparently an upright hockey bag in the back seat does not technically qualify as a third person under the Highway Traffic Act);  ability to secure appropriate parking for the duration of the event and return in a timely fashion (to ensure homework is complete).

Given our day to day lives had been filled with cooking, laundry and mending broken hearts and broken bones for many years, we were determined not to get back into the trenches with jobs like head laundress for a hotel chain, or head chef for the Canadian Forces Base in Trenton, or a medic for Doctors without Borders, although we all agreed that we had the necessary skills.

We practiced our reframing of our life skills into marketable job skills so well that we all felt ready, but still struggled with the toughest question at any job interview, which is “What are your salary expectations?”

We did agree that it’s not the right answer to say “anything above what I currently earn, which is … ummm … nothing.”

We’ll keep working on that angle.  More wine may be required.

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