Career Twists and Turns: Unconventional Career Paths

When Brea Starmer was seven months pregnant while working at a startup, she was laid off. In her third trimester, she started a consulting practice and interviewed for jobs—quickly starting her own consulting practice and then launching her company. Between having her first kid and then getting pregnant with her second, she decided to focus on building her own consulting agency to create flexible jobs for working parents. She hired her first person at the end of 2018 and has since grown her company to 50 people today.

Tara Zimmerman had a similar career pickle, but of a different nature. When Tara Zimmerman first became a parent, she didn’t have a master plan to be a stay-at-home mom. But then, four kids and eight and a half years later, she was running a household and juggling a massive schedule with six humans at the core. But where was she, and did she want to get back into the work world? Turns out, the answer was yes. She signed up to join the Wise Women’s Council to support her while she transitioned back into the work world and back into a finance and operations role at the company she used to run with her husband.

Today’s careers are no longer linear, and they don’t follow a map. Most of us have unconventional career paths, because we’re living through a time when the world of work is rapidly changing. Not only that—our lives are unfolding and changing, too! From children to parents to unexpected bumps along the way, we’re navigating a new world of work that hasn’t existed before.

If you feel like you’re entering the world of parenting and it’s madness, because your job is changing, your dreams are changing, or the company you thought you’d be with completely folds one day, trust us—you’re not alone. Whatever it is that happens in our stories as it unfolds, we all eventually arrive at a place where we look around and say, “Wait a second, where am I? What happened? And what do I do next?”

That question—what do I do next—is at the heart of the work that comes up time and time again with the women in our community here at Startup Pregnant. It turns out, it’s not always an easy question to answer, and it’s through conversations and connections with other people that we can see who we are and wake up to the changes we want to make in our lives. If you’ve been through a career pivot, or you’re wondering what you’d do during a layoff, or a work break, or you’ve even left the world of work for a while—today’s episode is for you.

Today’s conversation is between me and two of the women who just finished our year-long Wise Women’s Council, our annual program for parents navigating entrepreneurship and parenting. If you listened to last week’s episode, we talked to three women in the program about navigating your career path when you have kids, and the many ways entrepreneurship can show up in your life. This week, we get to meet two more women who have been in this community mastermind all year.

What I learned over and over again from each of these women is how many of us are figuring it out as we go and doing what we can with what we have, even as the world continues to change around us.

Whether you are reentering the work world after a break or you’re facing a huge amount of uncertainty after a layoff or you’re starting to build a new company from scratch, or maybe you’re even creating a new role for yourself within an existing company. The challenges that face us as we level up in leadership while becoming parents are not easy. I’m so thankful to both Tara and Brea for coming on the show and sharing their stories with you today.

The Startup Pregnant Podcast Episode #134

  • Be kind to yourself as you’re figuring all this out—not just work, but motherhood, all of it. — Tara Zimmerman
  • Listening to other women, hearing their stories, being in this community—it gives me courage. — Tara Zimmerman
  • I needed courage. Being with other women gives me courage. — Tara Zimmerman
  • First, recognize that whatever you’re doing right now, it’s enough. As mothers, we are raising the next generation of humans on this planet, and that is a life’s work in and of itself. That is so impactful to so many that we could possibly not even put your arms around what that means. — Tara Zimmerman
  • People are not talking about the intersection of work and parenting enough. I wanted to be a part of that discussion, you know, in whatever form that took. That’s why I joined The Wise Women’s Council. — Brea Starmer
  • I’m really passionate about people having courage in their work and feeling like they can ask for the kind of life that they need and not feel like it’s an accommodation. — Brea Starmer
  • Motherhood changed everything about my life. I thought I was going to be a corporate executive. I didn’t think entrepreneurship would be for me. Little did I know that I’d start my company with a brand-new baby and have 50 employees and be able to give more than $2 million to people in economic opportunity a year after I had my second kid. — Brea Starmer
  • Find the army of people that are going to put their arms around you and cheer you on, help you, or carry you to the finish line. You’ll need it to make it through all that you’re trying to do. — Brea Starmer.
  • Accept help. Now is not the time to be brave or pretend you can do it all yourself. Say yes to help. — Sarah Peck
  • The thing is, every time I accept an offer of help, yes, I’m vulnerable—but something magic happens. I get closer in my community and my relationships with people. I’ve made some great friends by saying yes when people offer to help. — Sarah Peck

Want to be part of the magic that is gathering together with smart, talented, wise business women? The 2020 Wise Women’s Council is now open for enrollment. Early bird applications are open through January 20th, and the program kicks off in March. Yes, we want you—all of you in your messy, imperfect, parenting-business-what-am-I-doing-madness. Apply here.


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