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Ep 8: Return to work: Carol Fishman Cohen, CEO & Co-Founder iRelaunch, TED Speaker, Podcaster, HBR

Updated: Jul 21, 2023




EPISODE SUMMARY



Hello, Sirisha here! Today's guest interview is with Carol Fishman Cohen - CEO & Co-Founder of iRelaunch, TED Speaker, Harvard Business Review Contributor, and Podcaster. Carol Fishman Cohen is the CEO & Co-Founder of iRelaunch and has built a community of almost 100,000 members. Her TED talk on "How to get back to work after a career break" has had over 3.6 million views and her articles regularly appear in HBR, Fairygodboss, Forbes NBCNews.com and other publications. Carol is the author of the seminal Harvard Business Review article "The 40-Year-Old Intern" which was recognized as an "HBR Article That Changed the Way I Think" as part of HBR's 90th-anniversary recognition. She co-leads the STEM re-entry task force with the Society of Women's Engineers (SWE). Join me on this podcast as Carol talks about How to Relaunch your career, Research roles, Networking, and Career Pivots in this podcast.



Follow me on Instagram @womencareerandlife, and don't forget to listen & subscribe to the podcast here!


You can also follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/womencareerlife &


Below is a transcript of the episode, slightly modified for reading.


PODCAST TRANSCRIPT OVERVIEW


[00:50] - Carol's career break [Jump to section]

[03:00] - iRelaunch...Roadmap [Jump to section]

[06:05]- TED Talk advice [Jump to section]

[09:32] - Career Transition [Jump to section]

[12:02] - Networking [Jump to section]

[13:01] Reframing...Career break [Jump to section]

[16:17] Relauncher... Ramp up...Stories [Jump to section]

[25:01] Breaks are longer... Enriching time ... [Jump to section]

[30:59]Note to your 21-year-old self... [Jump to section]

[33:04]One word to describe yourself [Jump to section]

Food for thought. Episode takeaways [Jump to section]


PODCAST DETAILED TRANSCRIPT


Carol's career break [00:50]

Sirisha: Hello, everyone. Today I have a guest speaker. She is a pioneer in the career reentry space, is a podcaster, has also done a TED talk with over 3.6 million views and she's the author of the Harvard Business Review "The 40-year-old intern." She also co-leads and co-founded the reentry task force with the Society of Women Engineers in the STEM space. I would like to welcome Carol Fishman Cohen thanks for being here today.

Carol: Hi, Sirisha, thank you for having me.


Sirisha: Thank you. So before I jump into iRelaunch, which is the organization that you lead, I wanted to take a few minutes to hear your story and what made you get into the space. And how do you empower women?

Carol: Well, before I got into the space with iRelaunch, I live this myself. So I was a financial analyst at an investment banking firm in the late 80s, a long time ago, and my company collapsed while I was on maternity leave with my first child. And so that began my career break, I decided not to go looking for the next big job. I had three more kids in close succession. and I was home with them for 11 years, from 1990 until 2001. So, you know, that was 30 years ago at the beginning of that. When I returned to work in 2001, I returned to an investment firm, where there were people who used to work with me from the investment bank years before, and they remembered me. That's how we got this whole concept of being frozen in time when people remember you from the past if you went to school together or worked together. So they had a frozen-in-time view of me. I got hired and I had been through every phase of this transition firsthand. So first I lived it. Then subsequently I wrote a book about it with another relaunch of Vivian Steer Raven, and we got a book contract to write a book called Back on the career track. There was an auction for the book, we got paid in advance it came out in 2007. That was the same year that we co-founded, iRelaunch.


This whole concept of being frozen in time when people remember you as you were in the past, if you went to school together or work together

iRelaunch...Roadmap [03:00]

Sirisha: Very good, seen some of the podcasts that you've had and some of the workshops you have. I know you have other events as well. So can you actually talk a little bit about iRelaunch itself? What does it do to help women enter the workforce?


Carol: At iRelaunch our mission is to normalize the career path that includes a career break. Our vision is that every company that runs a student internship program at the entry level, should be running a mid-career reentry program side by side. And we're the pioneering company in the return to workspace, we worked extensively with employers to help them create and expand their own in-house return to work programs. We work with over 200 clients on return-to-work programs and programming over the years. We also lead and support a community of almost 100,000 Relaunchers, who are in all stages of returning to work after career breaks from one to over 20 years for a whole range of reasons. And it's men and women, even though it's predominantly a still a female pool.


Sirisha: That's awesome. I mean, you are absolutely right. It's not just a female-oriented thing. It is men and women and with COVID Right now, the way the situation is, it affects everybody from all walks of life in all spaces. And I really like the fact about your book. I know I didn't mention it before, but that's pretty neat that you have a book that actually helps women, men or other people to just see where to get into that space as well as what to do.


Carol: You know, and I should say the book came out in 2007. So instead of doing a 10-year anniversary edition to the book, we decided that we had so much knowledge, that we had gained through working with 1000s of relaunches since the book came out that we created a product called "roadmap" which you can access through the iRelaunch site. And it has some of the original principles from the book. But it also has tremendous new learnings. And it's 30 steps and five phases, we really get into all the details of how people can make that transition back to work. So that is the primary offering we have now for relaunches that captures the bulk of our knowledge in terms of strategy.


Sirisha: That is really good, because I think, when anyone is making the transition, I've had my own career breaks twice, got laid off, and then I took a break with two kids. When you're making that transition, you're already mentally overwhelmed with a lot of stuff going on. So it will help to have a roadmap and someone who's had that experience to help you walk through it, either through the relaunch community, the 100,000 members you're talking about, or even just having a sheet of paper that they can just check off the box and say, yes, okay, I've got this step, I've got this step.


Carol: You know, it's worksheets and podcasts and video casts and lots of content, and people can jump in at any point, that's relevant for them. So it's a really effective tool.


It's (iReaunch roadmap) worksheets and podcasts and video casts. People can jump in at any point, that's relevant for them. So its a really effective tool.

TED Talk advice [06:05]

Sirisha: I know you did a TED talk, like I said, it's got over 3.6 million views. Very impressive. So what were some of the key takeaways?


Carol: The TED talk I actually did in November of 2015. It was a local Boston TED talk from TEDx Beacon Street. But then in the spring of 2016, the big TED platform editors selected it to be on the big TED. So that's when it started to amass millions of views. And it's been an amazing vehicle to connect with individuals and companies all over the world that are interested in career reentry strategy and helping people return to work. So the key messages in it are, first of all, it's completely possible to relaunch your career after your break, even if it's an extended career break.


First of all, it's completely possible to relaunch your career after your break, even if it's an extended career break

In fact, on our podcast, we have a mini-series of people who take the longest career breaks. And the range of the longest break rates ranges from 25 to 31 years, even people returning to technical roles almost six years after the original break. And we have documented so many more success stories, it's completely possible to relaunch your career, you have to think about exactly what you want to do. That's your job, not the employer's job to figure out where you can add the most value. You have to reinvigorate your network, so connect with those people who have that frozen-in-time view of you. Or you can connect with people who are junior to you who've been moving up while you have been on career break, they can often open a door for you. And you can start that rescaling and upskilling part at any time. So one message I want to make sure to communicate to real launchers is that we're realistic. I realize we know that people take career breaks for a reason and that they're not immediately taking their career breaks. So they can then be strategizing on how they can get back to work. So think about what you have to do, what you plan to do on your career break. If you can keep up on the side with what's going on in your field, that is going to be helpful to you later. It's totally possible to relaunch if you haven't done that.


You have to think about exactly what you want to do. That's your job, not the employers job to figure out where you can add the most value. You have to reinvigorate your network.

Let me just put in one piece of advice for people who are still working, who are anticipating the future career break. And that is to document some of your milestone moments right now while you're living them. Anytime you've learned something positive or negative, write it down, create an E file. It doesn't have to be anything perfect or grammatically correct, just dictate into your phone and add to it. Because if you take a career break years later when you're returning, one of the key things you need are anecdotes from your prior significant work experiences. So you can talk about examples of what is relevant to an employer even years later, based on something in detail that you actually did. You will remember that and you will thank yourself if you had taken notes, when it was actually happening, as opposed to having to recreate the past years later.


For people who are still working, who are anticipating the future career break, document some of your milestone moments right now while you're living them.

Career Transition [09:32]


Sirisha: Yeah, that's really good advice. Because I think the stories stick with us, not the verbiage that we use. Like you said now with video and audio recording devices, it may not be a bad thing to even record yourself and just save it on tape. what you emphasize is key. Some of the onus lies on whoever is coming back on what it is that you want to come back to because it may not be where you were before. Your energy and your passion might be a little different based on your break, if it's five years,15 years or 20 years on how you want to drive that career when you return.


Carol: I say make-up what works for you because what we tell employers, and one of the attributes of relaunch tours is that we are not in exploratory career mode anymore, like we appropriately should be early in our careers, we are more fully formed as people were more self-aware. The career break actually gave us the opportunity to reflect on whether we were on the right career path, to begin with. So once we're relaunching, you're getting someone who has already gone through this thought process of where their interests and skills are strongest now, and where they can add the most value to an employer. So that's why we say to launchers, if they're at a career fair, return to work conferences, don't go up to the employers and say, I'll do anything, they don't want to hear that they want you to have already done the work to figure out where you can add the most value.


I'll just mention one more thing from the TED talk I talked about that you have to go public with your job search, until everyone you know, knows that you're interested in returning to work. You have to expect that you are going to have many conversations that don't go anywhere. Out of those many conversations, will yield a few that will ultimately lead to that, that special opportunity for you. But don't get discouraged when you have lots of conversations that don't go anywhere. Don't only rely on researching companies online and applying online because that almost always does not work for the relaunch, you have to develop those personal relationships. It could be someone at your place of worship, or someone who you know, casually or a friend of theirs, who turns out to be that key person, you don't have to officially figure out how you're going to network professionally, although you should be doing that too. But it's really a mix of lots of different people that you want to be networking with.


You have to go public, with your job search until everyone you know, knows that you're interested in returning to work. Out of those many conversations, will yield a few that will ultimately lead to that, that special opportunity for you.


Networking [12:02]


Sirisha: Networking is not going to LinkedIn or going to one space, but trying all the different avenues in around your community as well. And LinkedIn does give you the opportunity, to look for work and looking to be hired. There are different tags that you can put that help you reconnect, and I've had a couple of friends including myself, that's how I got I got back to work. But I've had other friends who just reached out to someone on LinkedIn and they sent her opportunities and invited her to come and interview. So that wasn't, what she was looking for but it really was a big leap that really enabled her returnship.


Carol: One of our engineers who was also a military spouse, returning to work said that she started commenting on a thread on LinkedIn and connected with some people in her area. She's a civil engineer and through that, they ended up being the key people who led to an internship, that she treated as a return.


Reframing...Career break [13:01]


Sirisha: That's good, there are so many ways now. More people are used to the idea of people taking a career break and coming back probably from 15, 20, or 30 years ago; where the culture is more prevalent now. So there are opportunities, and people are not going to question your career break as much as before. They understand that people take them. The question is, how are you going to make that jump and entry back?


Carol: That is so significant that you can even say that, because, we see that complete reframing of the career break; from something that used to be the basis of we're going to toss out this resume because the person had a career break. Now with more and more companies having formal return-to-work programs, you have to, have a career break in order to be eligible to apply for and participate in them. We consider that the first step of an institutional shift that we're going through right now in terms of how employers view relaunches, and that was accelerated by what happened with COVID.


Sirisha: Just going through the break coming back to work for me personally, it sort of levels a lot of things. It wasn't intentional, but I realised as I look back now, it's been a decade since I came back to work. My mindset is significantly different from if I had not taken the break and the sort of risks, I'm willing to take are a bit more than I would have. And there is a sort of maturity, maybe is the right word, or a different type of confidence that, I've done this, so you know what, what can be done and how to make that change. And to your point, when you were talking earlier about confidence, maturity and just where people are coming from. It's different from when you're early in your career, to when you're taking the break in your mid-career or you've taken a break and you come back, It is different attributes you bring to work that are not as easily upskilled or acknowledged when you're streaming through the process as such.


My mindset is significantly different from if I had not taken the break and the sort of the risks, I'm willing to take are a bit more than I would have.

Carol: This is something we talked to employers about a lot. The attributes of the relaunch not only as you're saying before, what we talked about, we're more fully formed as people and can pinpoint more about what we want to do. But the idea that's always been true about launchers and you know this yourself is that we took career breaks for reasons that had nothing to do with our work performance. That's why we're a hidden talent pool and companies and employers are discovering more and more about the skill set that relaunchers offer. So education experience, the mature perspective, as you're talking about, we've worked already. You know, we've worked on teams with different personalities, and we have faced work deadlines before, that do not have to be taught, a perspective that we bring. We have energy and enthusiasm because we're so excited to be back at work and managers often comment on that. In general, there's a critical mass of launchers inside organizations, now for the programs that have been running longer, and we're starting to see changes because we see launchers wanting to hire other launchers. It being not viewed as risky, and used to be perceived as risky. Now it's like we want the launchers because we know how great they are. So we're witnessing in real time a shift that's happening.


That's why we're a hidden talent pool and companies and employers are discovering more and more about the skill set that relaunches offer. We've worked on teams with different personalities and we have faced work deadlines before, that does not have to be taught, perspective that we bring.

We have an energy and enthusiasm because we're so excited to be back at work and managers often comment on that.

Relaunched... Ramp up... Stories[16:17]


Sirisha: Very true. In my own case, and other cases I've seen where people are willing to reach out and help. I think the frozen in time is a very true statement because some of them have been 15-year breaks 30-year breaks, and it doesn't take them long. And some of the re-entries have been where people have had to take a step back from where their original roles were. What's happened is in those cases, it's helped them also kind of acclimatize to returning, but also help for people to get to know them and they've gone back to their original roles in six months or nine months. It hasn't taken them long to step back where they were.


Carol: I love that you're highlighting that because one of the things that we've seen. I'd say a hot topic inside companies about return to work, launchers and return to work programs is all-around level and compensation and at what level people convert or come back to work. We see some risk averseness on the part of the launchers themselves and the companies because, like the relaunch, one might think, well, you know, I've been around, I've been away for 10 years. So maybe I should come back in at a more junior level, that's probably a better gradual way to go. The employer might be thinking, we want to set people up for success. So let's err on the side more junior. And so we're not pushing it. And then the relauncher advances at a quicker rate, getting used to performing on the job again, than either they themselves or the employer anticipated. So then the question is, do we build into some of these programs, like a level adjustment where that's off cycle that might be before the end of the year whenever you normally do that? So it's interesting that you're saying that, you know, you've seen launchers, I'm guessing even outside programs who come on board and then ramp up quickly, very quickly, even if they've had, been on a career break for an extended period.


The relaunched advances at a quicker rate, getting used to performing on the job again, than either they themselves or the employer anticipated.


Sirisha: You're right, these are people who have not necessarily entered through a program as such, it's been through this networking. reaching out, the opportunity comes. People have been extremely willing to help, where you are not necessarily, ready mentally in that space. But they were like, come on, I mean, you're ready for that, let's, let's try it and it's been very successful. I think the other challenge when someone relaunches, there's the work part, but it's also the personal life space. We're all trying to figure out how to work, very often people take breaks for either family reasons or other personal reasons. So just how do you get back in? How do you adjust your schedule? There are lots of things that they have to work through, something for everyone to think about. Yes, there's the work and the job and the pay and what you're going to do, but make sure you have or you're at least cognizant of all the other pieces that need to mesh together when you're making that move.


Carol: That is so true. And interestingly, during COVID, when everything went virtual, you know, not even nothing to do with career breaks is returned to work. Everything went virtual, and so did the return-to-work programs. What we found when we work with launchers globally, now so we're seeing this across the world. It is so fascinating that launchers in all different countries face the same concerns and they're excited about the same things and their trajectories and the conversations that we have are, I want to say identical but nearly identical, no matter where in the world. One of the things we are finding is that for people who did take career breaks for childcare reasons, who still have school-age or younger kids at home., the virtual relaunch was gentler. Then the relaunch as you can imagine, because you we launched and I relaunched. We both had, you know, school-aged children, the idea that mom's back at work or dad's back at work today, and you're still sitting there in the house, you're working, but you have not left the home you're around is very different than the first day that you relaunch your career, you actually leave the house and go to the office, you go to work, whatever that means in the kid's mind. And that's, that's just a very different thing. And the relaunches have commented that that's been a more gradual, gentler process for them and their families.


It is so fascinating that relaunches in all different countries face the same concerns and they're excited about the same things and their trajectories and the conversations we have are nearly identical, no matter where in the world.

We are finding is that for people who did take career breaks for childcare reasons, who still have school age or younger kids at home, the virtual relaunch was gentler.


Sirisha: You have over 200 episodes in your podcast when I checked today. So you've talked to a lot of different people in different careers with different breaks. So far, you only talked about kind of the skill set and what they need to do to get ready. But I was wondering if you can share some stories of people with 25 to 30-year breaks and some are probably quite short, you know, maybe one to two years. So what are some stories, because those are the ones that are going to stick with people, that suggest the things to do and things probably not to do as well. I mean, we always get great advice on what we should do. But sometimes I find the best advice is what not to do, or what I don't want to do is just as important. So if you can speak to that?


Carol: Well, one thing I want to speak to which it runs through a lot of the story, so just to give context. So our podcast is called 3,2,1 relaunch, we release it weekly. It's returning to work advice, strategies and success stories. So most of the time, we're talking to launchers about the details of their relaunch and we are getting into a lot of detail. Because we think that's where the value is to the listener. We also talked to experts and ask them to take their frameworks and methodologies and apply it to the relaunch or even like we did with Laura Vanderkam for time management. We've done that with Michael Watkins the first 90 days. So so we have that perspective.


We speak with employers. One thing, a theme that runs through a lot of the stories is that it takes a long time. It takes longer than people think to relaunch and the idea that you're sitting there submitting, you know, hundreds of resumes online, and hearing nothing, not even a rejection, but nothing for a really long time, and realizing that you need to take that next hard step, which is actually to start having conversations with people and connecting with them in different ways. And how do you actually do that? I think that's really hard for people. But I hear over and over. Again, that's the stuff that made the difference. So going public with your job search and taking that step, we used to say get out of the house. Now that has a different context, you know, with COVID, but still this idea of having lots of conversations and telling people which that you're getting ready to return to work, what you're interested in doing, asking them what they do. So get in a conversation with them about work, and then have them ask you and have prepared, you know, this elevator pitch is succinct way of talking about what you're interested in doing and be very specific.


So you have to not just say I'm going into finance, you can or I'm going to engineering, you have to say I'm looking for process engineering roles or quality. I'm looking for, I want to be quality engineer and manufacturing engineering before. Now I'm really focused on quality. I just got LEED certified because I didn't have that before, you know, get specific in terms of your goals, and also the grit and resilience that people need to have when they're going through this process. And things are either progressing slowly, or maybe they make progress and they actually get a few steps in and then they get rejected or even at the finals, and they don't get it and they have to pick themselves up, start over again.


So I'd say I really appreciate it when our podcast guests are so frank and vulnerable about having a really tough time. I just did an interview that's going to come out in a few weeks, a nurse who now does legal compliance work related to medical procedures, but she went back into nursing first, because her partner had a prolonged layoff and finances were really tight. And she said, You know, I know she listened to our podcast. She says I know you talked to people who chose to go back to work. I had to go back to work. And still, you know where she talks about her evolution. Now a few months a few years later, she talks about it with joy and enthusiasm, even recognizing how hard it was at The very beginning.


Breaks are longer... Enriching time ... [25:01]


Sirisha: Yeah, very true. Because I think in my own space, I was maybe a year and a half into the break, you know, close to two years when I was thinking of returning, but it took three years to come back. It had to do with economy, it was 2008-2009. So I went to a job fair, I think there were 10 jobs, 1000 people. So I took a step back and said, Okay, this is going to be hard. And yes, you will not hear from anyone. I mean, those are all things to keep in mind. It comes back again, and again, talking about what role you wander to, and talking to people. That information interview, or information gathering, because you're also trying to find out what opportunities are, what has changed in your workspace. So it's for you to go find out what those spaces are. So you can see where you fit in, and even reach out to some old friends and send your resume. I've known people, I've done it, and I've had people reach out to me and send their resumes. Then you're asking them to, okay, reformat it, you know, highlight this, have you talked about this, because when you start talking to people, you find out what the stories are behind. Some of those are the ones that you want to highlight in your resume, not your title and what you did. There are some key aspects that people might be looking for, that you need to step up and put there so that they can see it.


Carol: You're absolutely right. And this whole concept, we actually use those words, we advise people when they're getting back in touch with people from the past. rekindling relationships, that they don't just like go in opportunistically, can you help me find a job? You want to refocus on rebuilding the relationship first and talk about being in information gathering mode, we actually use those, let's say you're in information gathering mode. I'm trying to, I want to become a subject matter expert all over again, in preparation for my return to work. And can you recommend an expert? Or who do you follow or, you know, where are the most interesting conversations happening about what's going on in our field?


We advise people when they're getting back in touch with people from the past, rekindling relationships, that they don't just like go in opportunistically, can you help me find a job. You want to refocus on rebuilding the relationship first, and talk about being in information gathering mode

Then the other thing that you said, made me think of one more thing, during the podcast almost every person says, my career break lasted a lot longer than I thought, as I thought I was only going to be out a year or two. And then next thing, you know, five years went by, and that's why we're thinking of these COVID career breaks, I don't think people are going to be bouncing, you know, running back into the workforce so fast. First of all, once you're on a career break, then other things happen, where you're the person on career breaks, so you then suddenly have responsibility for them, for things you wouldn't have before. Also with a COVID situation, we're not sure you know, How stable is it? If you have kids? Are they going to be back in school? Is there going to be some other weird hours or weird days or do people have to come home? How are you going to handle that? And then the fallout from it, there's mental health. There's trying to make sure there's stability in the household and all different levels and that that is going to keep people out longer to make sure that things are more stable before they're ready to go back in.


During the podcast almost every person says, my career break lasted a lot longer than I thought

Sirisha: So sort of a segue comment I have to that is, I know, I when I took my break that I, it wasn't like an intentional thing. But I actually got to, spend time building friendships and sort of investing in that. You know, many years later, it's really helped. I think there are so many things you get out of the career break that community, that friends or tribe that's going to keep you going as either through the break. The interesting thing is, every one of us who were on career break is working now. So we all went through that transition, trying to figure out at different times in different ways, some through school, some through this, and some after even a longer break. For some it was first-time job, 15-20 years after, so there have been different transition stories right there. It's good to have a balance of all of that because there are just people going through so many different situations, you can learn something from all of it.


Carol: It just happens, one of the podcasts that we did earlier on, is with Kuae Kelch Mattox, who was actually on our national on our advisory board, and she returned to work as a producer after a 13-year career, she now works for CNN. And that podcast is all about how enriching her career break was. So the experiences that you have on a career break and what you bring with you because you've had that experience, then back to the workforce. That's another reason I think employers are recognizing, they want our viewpoint, you know, we're coming from a different perspective, and it should be in the mix.


Sirisha: Very true. You said you interviewed Laura Vanderkam, I've read her book "168 hours". My friend and I actually really like it because I think it's great exercise. I don't know if you've tried it yourself, but the week's exercise where you go and look at your time in 15-30 minute intervals and it's eye-opening. When we all say, we don't have time. Yes, we lead very busy lives no doubt about it, but I think It gives you a perspective on where you want to spend your time. How do you want to spend it, sort of level sets, and then gives you a kind of nice visual to see, oh, maybe this is what I should or should choose not to do. Then you can have a conversation with yourself on what you want to do.


Laura Vanderkam "168 hours" -one week exercise where you go and look at your time in 15-30 minute intervals and its eye opening. When we all say, we don't have time, this exercise gives you a perspective on where do you want to spend your time

Carol: Now, I totally agree with you, I love so just to give people a background. So Laura Vanderkam a time management expert looks instead of looking at time as 24-hour days, looks at time in terms of 168-hour weeks, and how you spend that time a certain amount of hours sleeping. She had like 1000 People map out their time in 15-minute increments. She did all these time studies and I actually follow her on Insta. She just she herself just had a fifth child and so I'm always watching her to see how was she managing her time so productively with the kids. She's writing books and doing everything. So she really lives the perfect example of what she talks about. But yeah, very, very helpful strategies there.


Note to your 21-year-old self... [30:59]


Sirisha: This has been a great conversation because it's not just about relaunching. as much as everything else that develops around that web, the network around it to make people successful and think about it. As we're getting close to wrapping up the episode, this is a question I ask every guest. What quality or advice would you give your 21-year-old self for the decades ahead?


Carol: You know, I've learned this from working with 1000s of people who are at mid-career on a career break, who use that time to examine whether they were on the right career path, to begin with. I think that's because we tend to fall into something without a lot of thought when we're younger. First of all, we are not fully formed as people yet, we really should be in broad exploratory mode during our 20s. Because either will fall into something by accident because it happened to be there and then you take another job in the same field. The next thing you know you have a career, or you're fulfilling someone else's expectations. Well, my parents always wanted me to go to law school, so I went, then I realized I don't even want to be a lawyer, you know. So having enough of those conversations, people had a midpoint when people are 21. I give this advice to 21-year-old people in their 20s, go out and have as many different experiences you can. Don't pressure yourself to have it all together by the time you're 30. And that's what I would do. And I want to give the caveat that some people might say, yeah, that's all nice and good, Carol, as long as you don't have tremendous amounts of debt that you have to pay off. So I'm not saying to ignore that you can certainly have a stable job, that is not your favourite job, because you're getting income from it and paying down your loans. And as a side gig or a side interest you're exploring on your own time, other options for yourself.


I give this advice to 21 year old people in their 20s, is to go out and have as many different experiences you can. Don't pressure yourself to have it all together by the time you're 30. You can certainly have a stable job, and as a side gig or side interest you're exploring on your time, other options for yourself.

One word to describe yourself [33:04]

Sirisha: I'm glad you clarified that because there are things you can do in your outside your work time as well, that kind of balances everything out. So one last question, how would you describe yourself in one word,

Carol: whoo, enthusiastic,

Sirisha: that's good.

Carol: I love what I'm doing and I love the impact. I love watching in real time results of a lot of work over a long period of time. So very enthusiastic, and very excited about what's to come.


Sirisha: It's amazing, right? You've built a community of 100,000 people. You have as many views as you have on TED talks, and you have so many podcasts out there. There's a lot of community that you are not aware of that is listening or seeing this and taking nuggets out of it to look forward and look back and say, Okay, I've had an impact not just on a person's life for this, but also sort of a systemic change. Like you said, from 15 years ago to now, talking about a career break now is a bit more normalized, than it was before when you started. Just a shift in conversation is a fulfilling experience in itself and sort of your enthusiasm carries through when you're talking about it. So that's that's fantastic and thanks for doing that.


Carol: Thanks. Well, thanks for the opportunity to have the conversation. I love Sirisha that you yourself are an example of what is possible in a relaunch. I think those examples are so important not only for individuals to be inspired by but for employers to see what is possible.


Sirisha: Thank you, Carol. If you want to reach Carol or iRelaunch, you can reach out on Twitter or LinkedIn at Carol Fishman Cohen. I hope you enjoyed today's conversation on returning to work after a break. Tune in every other Wednesday to catch the next episode. If you think a friend may benefit from this, please share this podcast with them. All the resources we talked about are also available on our website, women carrier in Life.com. I would love to hear from you about your stories and your journey. You can reach me on my blog, Twitter, Instagram or Gmail at womencareerandlife. Until next time this is Sirisha signing off. Remember there are infinite possibilities to drive change in career and life which will you choose to make a reality today!

Food for thought. Episode takeaways

Here is today's food for thought,

  • This whole concept of being frozen in time, when people remember you as you were in the past, if you went to school together or worked together

  • It's (launch roadmap) worksheets and podcasts and video casts. People can jump in at any point, that's relevant for them. So it's a really effective tool.

  • First of all, it's completely possible to relaunch your career after your break, even if it's an extended career break

  • For people who are still working, who are anticipating a future career break, document some of your milestone moments right now while you're living them.

  • You have to go public, with your job search until everyone you know, knows that you're interested in returning to work. Out of those many conversations, will yield a few that will ultimately lead to that, that special opportunity for you.

  • We advise people when they're getting back in touch with people from the past, rekindling relationships, that they don't just like go in opportunistically, can you help me find a job? You want to refocus on rebuilding the relationship first and talk about being in information-gathering mode

  • That's why we're a hidden talent pool and companies and employers are discovering more and more about the skill set that relaunches offer. We've worked on teams with different personalities and we have faced work deadlines before, that does not have to be taught, a perspective that we bring.

  • We have energy and enthusiasm because we're so excited to be back at work and managers often comment on that.

  • The relaunched advances at a quicker rate, getting used to performing on the job again, than either they themselves or the employer anticipated.

  • It is so fascinating that relaunches in all different countries face the same concerns and they're excited about the same things and their trajectories and the conversations we have are nearly identical, no matter where in the world.

  • In the podcast almost every person says, my career break lasted a lot longer than I thought

  • Laura Vanderkam "168 hours" - a one-week exercise where you go and look at your time in 15-30 minute intervals and it's eye-opening. When we all say, we don't have time, this exercise gives you a perspective on where you want to spend your time

  • I give this advice to 21-year-old people in their 20s, is to go out and have as many different experiences as you can. Don't pressure yourself to have it all together by the time you're 30. You can certainly have a stable job, and as a side gig or side interest you're exploring on your time, other options for yourself.

Resources Mentioned:

Similar Podcast Transcripts: Return to Work Season

Guest: Carol Fishman Cohen

Host: Sirisha

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