Author Topic: Best career options for parents  (Read 5114 times)

cosmie

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Best career options for parents
« on: May 29, 2012, 08:33:24 AM »
Many of you Mustachians have children, and several of you are stay-at-home parents (or at least adjusted your workload to be able to be involved with your children). I'm curious what careers/jobs you guys have found to be particularly flexible in regards to being in your child's life.

For some perspective: my other half is wanting to go back to college and finish her degree after taking a year off for our newborn daughter. The problem is she has no idea what she wants that degree to be She has avoided 'core' classes so has the foundation to continue anything from a philosophy degree to a chemistry degree, and would equally prefer either one. The only thing she particularly cares about is being able to spend ample time with our daughter as she grows up, so doesn't want to pursue a high-stress, low-flexibility, time-demanding career such as a nurse practitioner (what her mother is, and is trying to get her to become).

arebelspy

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Re: Best career options for parents
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2012, 08:58:12 AM »
Have you considered something that's high paying for a few years to hit FI very rapidly?
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cosmie

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Re: Best career options for parents
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2012, 10:14:49 AM »
That's definitely a possibility, but a secondary concern. Graduates from my degree program have average starting salary offers around $75k-100k (depending on industry and specific application), and that's for people that virtually no work experience (whereas I have quite a bit). On top of that, I enjoy the work I'm doing while in school (digital advertising management), which can easily net $30k-50k as a part-time freelancing gig. I'm also in no hurry to retire, as I greatly enjoy what I do. So a high paying gig is a secondary concern for her, with flexibility being the priority.

kdms

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Re: Best career options for parents
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2012, 10:24:47 AM »
Forgive me for asking, but as it appears that she doesn't really care what the degree is about, why go back right now at all?  The credits she's already earned won't expire; she can pick up where she left off in 5 years, or a decade, or never.  Especially if what she really wants to do is stay with your daughter.

I took a year of maternity leave and felt like I was ready to go back to work when my son was a year old.  It took me all of 6 weeks to really start to resent leaving my son with a daycare every day, and that's my motivation for FI -- I want to raise my child myself.

That being said -- accountants, if not working for a large firm (some small ones can be very flexible) can sometimes be successful and flexible as a home-based business, and I've met a lot of people working towards a degree or certification in Early Childhood Education so that they can stay home with their own kids and run a home-based daycare to bring in some income.  Anything that can be run out of your home could work.  Writers can set their own hours -- English degree focusing on technical writing?  Try using monster.com or workopolis and do a search for work+from+home to get an idea of what type of jobs offer flexibility, perhaps?

cosmie

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Re: Best career options for parents
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2012, 11:04:05 AM »
Forgive me for asking, but as it appears that she doesn't really care what the degree is about, why go back right now at all?  The credits she's already earned won't expire; she can pick up where she left off in 5 years, or a decade, or never.  Especially if what she really wants to do is stay with your daughter.
Asking is fine. :)
Two reasons for going back now. The first is financial motivation. Her financial aid package is enough to cover the cost of tuition, books and ancillary charges, childcare, and the added expense of her driving every day; all without taking out any loans.

The second factor is social. Everyone in her age group that she grew up with is in school right now; cousins, friends, etc. The fact that she isn't makes her feel left out and isolated. As well, she grew up in an environment where going to college is What You Do, and not doing so is simply unheard of. So it's a bit of an identity crisis. Although she enjoys it, being a stay-at-home mom for several years with absolutely no externally-validated productive task to do will drive her bonkers.

So basically, it's the most economically advantaged time for her to get her degree, and it's the only thing that will keep her from going stir crazy.

I took a year of maternity leave and felt like I was ready to go back to work when my son was a year old.  It took me all of 6 weeks to really start to resent leaving my son with a daycare every day, and that's my motivation for FI -- I want to raise my child myself.
I have a feeling she'll go through the same thing, but the only way she'll realize it is to go through it. Doing  so while going back to school will at least ease her into it, as our daughter will only be in childcare when necessary for classes and such.

That being said -- accountants, if not working for a large firm (some small ones can be very flexible) can sometimes be successful and flexible as a home-based business, and I've met a lot of people working towards a degree or certification in Early Childhood Education so that they can stay home with their own kids and run a home-based daycare to bring in some income.  Anything that can be run out of your home could work.  Writers can set their own hours -- English degree focusing on technical writing?  Try using monster.com or workopolis and do a search for work+from+home to get an idea of what type of jobs offer flexibility, perhaps?
Thanks for the ideas. :)
Technical writing seems really interesting, I think it'd fit her well.

tooqk4u22

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Re: Best career options for parents
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2012, 01:12:09 PM »
Options vary but some that would be a fit in include Teacher, Physical Therapist, Nurse, Sales Rep.

I am curious about the financial aid, setting aside scholarships how do you get school fully covered when you have such a high income? 

gooki

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Re: Best career options for parents
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2012, 01:39:34 PM »
At our company, the Translation Manager has the most flexible position (organising translation of technical documents and marketing material). I believe our current one is on paid holiday in europe for three months, while working.

grantmeaname

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Re: Best career options for parents
« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2012, 01:42:58 PM »
I took cosmie's post to mean that their household income is low right now, as he's still in school, and that his wife was on need-based aid because he hasn't realized his high future earning potential.

tooqk4u22

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Re: Best career options for parents
« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2012, 01:53:18 PM »
That's definitely a possibility, but a secondary concern. Graduates from my degree program have average starting salary offers around $75k-100k (depending on industry and specific application), and that's for people that virtually no work experience (whereas I have quite a bit). On top of that, I enjoy the work I'm doing while in school (digital advertising management), which can easily net $30k-50k as a part-time freelancing gig. I'm also in no hurry to retire, as I greatly enjoy what I do. So a high paying gig is a secondary concern for her, with flexibility being the priority.

I may have read it wrong because he said he had quite a bit of experience, if that is the case then she should get the free education while available even if it is something general like liberal arts or business (although I would recommend accounting).  Better to have it than not and she can always add on.   She also shouldn't chose a degree based on perceived flexibility as that can always change, it should be something that she is interested in.

cosmie

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Re: Best career options for parents
« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2012, 02:34:19 PM »
Options vary but some that would be a fit in include Teacher, Physical Therapist, Nurse, Sales Rep.

I am curious about the financial aid, setting aside scholarships how do you get school fully covered when you have such a high income?

Grantmeaname got it right: I haven't graduated yet; the figures I posted are my projected earning potential after graduation, to point out to arebelspy that the earning potential for her path would be a secondary concern. Right now I'm employed as a student worker for the business school, and get paid $20/hr to manage digital advertising campaigns on Google Adwords, Microsoft adCenter, and LinkedIn for various programs in the College. The work isn't full-time and student employees don't get paid holidays (a public university has a lot of Federal holidays off, any non-student employee gets paid) so my take home pay is only ~$20,000/yr. And that position is only a recent development, so it'll be closer to $15,000 - $18,000 this year.

With a take-home income of $20,000/yr for a family of three, we qualify for most need-based financial aid. I receive about $18,000/yr in financial aid (~$10,000 need-based and $8,000 merit-based). That's enough to cover tuition (~$10,000/yr), fees (~$2,000), books (~$1,500), and leaves about $4,000 per year left for whatever is needed; required higher-end laptop, software, parking fees, etc. Her financial aid package is so far at $15,000, and is likely to increase as mine did last year (they add smaller, endowment-based aid later in the summer); we're engaged, not married, so for FAFSA purposes she's considered a single parent (they don't have an option for domestic partner), which also qualifies her for more aid. Hers is also a mix of merit- and need-based aid, but I haven't looked at the specific aid she's received, just the total amount of it. Since she's not pursuing a business degree, her cost of tuition, fees, and books will be lower, and so will be able to cover the cost of childcare as well as her schooling onn what she already has. Any extra will just be a little bonus.

At our company, the Translation Manager has the most flexible position (organising translation of technical documents and marketing material). I believe our current one is on paid holiday in europe for three months, while working.
Wow, that sounds like an awesome position!

I may have read it wrong because he said he had quite a bit of experience,
Quite a bit relative to my peers. My first job at 16 was at a Domino's Pizza, and I became an Assistant Manager within a few months. I worked as an interim GM at another store from 17-18, and was offered the store when I turned 18 (turned it down to go to college). While at university I've worked for various departments doing everything from desktop support, IT resource management, web programming, technical writing, Teacher's Asssistant for a professor, front office administration, to my current gig managing $10,000+/month in online advertising expenditures and running experiments for website optimization. The current position I have should last until I graduate, and on top of advertising management, involves managing the website and assisting with the coordination of an annual conference and biannual corporate partner forum. Most 21-year-old college students I know have barely held a summer job at McDonalds, let alone multi-year stints involving the management of a $1m/year store, resources and people, and spending $100,000+/yr of someone else's money.

The breadth of my experience means that I can tailor a resume to virtually any position I fancy, and be able to list applicable skills and show responsibility rather than just a list of clubs and classes I was in during college (I also help graduate students with resume preparation, and it amazes me that they use this stuff as resume-filler). Although not enough to compete with people already in industry, that gives me a distinct advantage when firms are poaching a new batch of college recruits.

while available even if it is something general like liberal arts or business (although I would recommend accounting).  Better to have it than not and she can always add on.   
My thoughts exactly. Although she's good at numbers regarding anything scientific (such as chemistry), she'd make a terrible accountant.

She also shouldn't chose a degree based on perceived flexibility as that can always change, it should be something that she is interested in.
She's interested in degrees across the spectrum, that's the problem. She can't decide, and keeps asking me for advice. The potential flexibility is something I'm looking for before giving her a recommendation, as I know that flexibility will be important to her (even if she doesn't realize it herself).
« Last Edit: May 29, 2012, 02:38:55 PM by cosmie »

caligulala

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Re: Best career options for parents
« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2012, 12:26:33 PM »
Does your girlfriend have an entrepreneurial streak? I'm in a mom group with about 40 other women, and while nearly all of us do some kind of paid work, only 3 or 4 have regular, full time career track jobs.

Service businesses generally have low start up costs and the ability to set her own hours. I do some organizing work for small businesses and I'm available from 8:30 to noon while my older son is in preschool and I bring my baby with me to work. I don't make nearly as much money as some people, but I make my work fit around my life, not the other way around. I enjoy what I do, but being able to set my own schedule and not have to conform to face time requirements at an office make our entire family's life much easier.

cosmie

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Re: Best career options for parents
« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2012, 01:22:55 PM »
Hey caligulala. :)

I think she has an entrepreneurial streak, as long as someone else pushes her into following it. The only problem is she doesn't have much experience at anything particular, therefore it's hard to find a specific skill that's developed enough to be marketed. She's also so small and petite that many people simply don't take her seriously, because she's the size of a 13-year-old.

One thing I have gotten her to look into is shopping for neighbors. We live in a condo community that consists of about 80% elderly people, and from experience I'm sure that plenty of them have a difficult time with tasks such as shopping for groceries, toiletries, and the like. So I'm trying to get her to advertise at the mailboxes that she'd do assistance, either carrier-style work such as dropping off packages or picking up groceries, or helping around the house.

Our daughter is pretty easy going, so it's really not hard to drag around a little rolley-seat or pack-n-play and she'll stay occupied on her own.

sideways8

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Re: Best career options for parents
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2012, 01:52:25 PM »
+1 for running your own business! Make your own hours, dump jerky customers... That's a great idea about the shopping for neighbors. I have a friend whos mother works part time helping older folks go shopping, clean house, go to appointments, etc. I'm sure many of the clients would love seeing the baby! My friend helped out my grandma for a while with some exercises after an illness (she's a stay at home mom) and my grandma really loved the visits and seeing the baby.