Work It Out, Mamas

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  • President Obama has announced the American Jobs Act, and Episode Six of”Mamas Gone Wild” tells us how to say no to unemployment by learning to brand ourselves and market our skill sets using social media and old-fashioned networking.

    It’s clear, though, that it’s not our grandparents’ or even our parents’ job market out there. People are staying unemployed longer, and those with jobs have little or no security. So, if it’s crazy for us, what it will be like for the next generation?

    Click here to hear Nikki Woods’ “What in the Weekend?” report.

    Click here for the sixth and latest episode of “Mamas Gone Wild.”

    Yeah, I’m talking about that one staring at you with the sippy cup, the one wearing a full Spiderman costume in September and the one asking you if you will sign a release so that she can get her belly button pierced. This is not just THE future; it’s our future. If we’re blessed enough to live to be 80, our kids will be playing major roles in our lives, so it pays for us to make sure they won’t be borrowing from us when we get our Medicare checks.

    That being said, it’s never too early to start preparing our kids for that transition into the job market.

    My “Mamas Gone Wild” co-host, Mary Boyce, has a ninth grader who recently realized, with horror, that she has no idea what her college major will be. Her parents are in a quandary: Should they encourage her to go with her heart, which would mean earning a degree in the arts, or begin to talk to her seriously about the kinds of jobs that will be realistic and sustainable?

    I’m not quite there yet, but my nine-year-old is very clear on his college path, and the fact that his teacher has already contacted me about different College Prep courses he can take – even at this early age – only reinforces that. My eight-year–old, however, recently announced that he wants to be a barber, ride a bike and sleep on my couch. Once we receive counseling to deal with his delusions, I’m sure he’ll be fine.

    U.S. News and World Report listed some of the hottest jobs out there, and here are a few: Meeting planners, commercial pilots, interpreters/translators, physical therapists, mediators, civil engineers and environmental science technicians.

    Now, I don’t know if this list piques your interest or has caused you to take to your bed. Keep in mind, it’s a very small sampling, but we think it’s helpful to know which way the career winds are blowing. If you’re creative, you can look at ways you or your children can turn these into careers that are more suited to you. What do meeting planners need to do their jobs, and how might you be able to offer them something worth paying for?

    Being blessed enough to be working in an area that I’m completely passionate about, I wonder what would have happened if I had followed the path expected of me and become an attorney? Can we do our bests on jobs that we hate? Sometimes we have to.

    Of course, we all want our kids to be able to follow their dreams and make enough money to live well on their own. My parents didn’t even worry about the “live well” part. They just stipulated to my sister and me that once we left home after college, there was no coming back. That was the only kind of stimulus package we needed.

    The truth is we’re living in complicated times, and many of us will find ourselves making compromises just in order to make ends meet. The word of the day is preparedness, whether you’re 16 or 60.

    With unemployment at an all-time high, the message is the same to those looking for work and those of us blessed enough to have jobs: We have to be proactive and always make sure we’re not just aware of the latest technology, but adept at using it. If you still think Facebook and Twitter are something to play with and think you can truly market yourself by passing out business cards, you may be hurting your chances for employment.

    And on the subject of Facebook, if your kids are on it, they should know that potential college admissions personnel and employers will visit their pages. That means they should make certain that they never post anything that could be a detriment to them in the future.

    Our two “Mamas Gone Wild” guests, like many of you, are searching for that perfect job situation, but willing to compromise until they find it. Kimberly wants to be on her own and not have to put her fate in the hands of one company, yet she knows that with a young child and self-employed husband, she needs health benefits. Side hustle queen Carol – who, among other things, works as a party stylist – has, since the taping, found a steady gig. Even though she proclaimed that she realized she wasn’t interested in getting back into the corporate world of insurance underwriting, she had to settle for a position in that area because she needs the money. You can’t be mad at that. They both are working hard at branding themselves, and we will continue to follow their progress.

    Sometimes saying no to unemployment means saying yes to a not-so-perfect job situation. But there’s always time to network. And time to work on improving our weaknesses and marketing our strengths.

    Work it out, Mamas – and make sure our future caretakers are doing the same!

    Nikki Woods is senior producer of “The Tom Joyner Morning Show.” The author of “Easier Said Than Done,” the Dallas-based Woods is currently working on her second and third novels. You can friend her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter: @nikkiwoods.

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