Taking a career break can seem risky and even daunting at first. Sometimes, however, it’s the only way forward. Whether you’re an engineer working out of an established company or a STEM specialist, a break can help you find a new path. According to LinkedIn, 74% of women have aspirations to reach the executive level in their respective companies early in their careers, while 49% expressed that it is more difficult for them to advance to senior positions compared to their male counterparts.
Gender-based imbalance can be an issue for career advancement, especially in competitive industries such as engineering, IT, business management and advertisement. However, by taking a career break, you can take a step back and come out swinging in order to build on your professional experience foundation. With that said, let’s take a look at some of the ways in which you can benefit from a career break and not see it as a detriment to your continued growth – which is far from what it actually is.
1. You can distance yourself from negativity.
The most obvious reason to consider taking up a career break is to simply distance yourself from a toxic work environment. Even the best companies in the engineering sector will have “that person” on their payroll that constantly disrespects other employees and creates a negative atmosphere.
A negative office environment can seriously hinder your motivation, productivity, and mood – your energy is worth more than that. If you can’t see yourself in that particular company five or ten years down the line, it might be time to look for new career opportunities elsewhere.
2. You can relax and reflect.
Sometimes we are so wound up in everyday work obligations that we lose sight of why we do what we do. It’s important to hit the reset button on your career every once in a while if you don’t feel like you have anything more to gain from your current employment.
This will give you an opportunity to reflect on your experiences so far and relax mentally and physically while you look for a new position or career path to present itself. Use the chance to clear your mind, set new professional goals and look for a career path that better reflects your work environment expectations going forward.
3. You can focus on your relationships.
Depending on the type of work you currently do and the hours you dedicate to your company, your personal relationships might suffer for it. Your close family, spouse, children or even parents or friends might drop a comment here and there about your general absence.
“This is not a good sign of career advancement, especially when it comes to people who you share the roof over your head with.” – Daniela McVicker, an HR manager at Top Writers Review. “Use the career break as an opportunity to rebuild your personal relationships and start the next chapter in your professional life on the right foot.”
“Use the career break as an opportunity to rebuild your personal relationships and start the next chapter in your professional life on the right foot.”
4. You can improve your skills set.
Given that we live in an increasingly competitive economy where every recommendation makes a difference, expanding your skill set might not be a bad idea. You can invest your free time into seminars, conferences, courses and other forms of self-improvement during your career break.
It’s easy to integrate new skills and bullet points into your existing resume if you know a few hacks. Work on your personal growth and improvement while you seek new career opportunities and the right match will wait for you just around the corner.
5. You can network more actively.
Most professional engineer positions require typical 9-to-5 work ethics. This type of dedication makes networking and professional collaboration quite difficult, especially if you want to advance in your career. According to Wise Campaign, only 22% of core STEM workforce positions are occupied by female professionals, with 12% employed as engineering professionals as of 2018’s latest research.
In order to increase that number and take up more involved, flexible and senior positions within your industry, you should do your best to network with future colleagues. Use the opportunity created by your career break to reach out to women you admire in the professional sense and ask for their tips or an hour of their time to discuss your resume and skill set. Network as much as you can and put your name out there without actively seeking employment – the right chance will present itself to you at the right moment.
As we’ve mentioned before, a career break isn’t something you should see in a negative light. After all, a diverse set of professional experiences in different companies will allow you to land even more lucrative positions down the line.
Take some time to reflect on your journey so far and start setting new goals and milestones for your future development. Before you know it, a new stepping stone in your career path will emerge and you will again be employed and satisfied with the decision you’ve made.
>> On a career break and looking to get back to work? Read about SWE’s STEM Reentry Program! <<
About the Author
Jessica Fender is a blogger and professional writer. She is focused on creating innovative and customer-friendly strategies for business growth. You can follow Jessica on Twitter and connect with her on LinkedIn.