An Unexpected Resource for Networking and Career Development: Your Child’s School

The unemployment rate for women has finally returned to pre-pandemic levels, but layoffs and temporary freezes once again threaten to push women out of the workforce. Additionally, whether employers continue to allow remote work — a key benefit due to the nationwide shortage of childcare — will greatly affect many working mothers.

Career-minded people or those exploring new opportunities are looking for resources to build their network and develop new professional skills. As working parents of school-aged children prepare for a new school year, an unexpected place to find such resources might just be at their child’s school, with the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) .

National PTA is America’s oldest and largest children’s advocacy group, made up of 3.4 million parents, teachers, grandparents, caregivers, adoptive parents and other adults. Nationally, the PTA serves 13.8 million students and more than 769,000 teachers. With the size of the network and members having access to mentors, 501(c)(3) nonprofit financial education, and leadership development through webinars and e-learning courses, it could arguably rival any online course or professional development organization. PTA National President Anna King explains how the skills gained through participation in the PTA are invaluable in professional abilities:

“PTA members meet and connect with others at the national, state and local levels; hear and learn from experts in leadership and a wide variety of other fields; participate in trainings, webinars and workshops; occupy leadership positions and sit at the table of key decision makers and officials.

South Carolina business owner and mother Jocelyn Bermudez served as president of her child’s PTA for more than seven years. She believes that volunteering for the PTA has helped her career tremendously, allowing her to take on a leadership role and gain experience coordinating volunteers to help her achieve goals and initiatives.

“Although I never intended to use my PTA connections to network or grow my business, it has given me visibility in the community. Former board members and parents contact me often and make business recommendations to me.

Bermudez adds that as president of the PTA, she often had to think outside the box creatively to grow the organization, inspire and motivate volunteers, and leverage limited resources.

“Effective APEs are run like businesses. There are budgets, goals, people, processes, a vision and a mission to execute. In many ways, running a parent-teacher organization is even more difficult than running a business because you depend on volunteers. »

Working mothers can also learn in-demand soft skills as a member of the PTA. Soft skills, or soft interpersonal skills, include teamwork, reliability, problem solving, communication, and responsibility. According to author and therapist Danielle Matthew, empathy, empowerment, and engagement can be added to this list. “Empathy is about asking for what is needed rather than making assumptions, empowerment is about working together to create solutions, and engagement follows the action plan.”

Although working parents may feel challenged to spend their free time volunteering at school or getting involved with the APE, there are many benefits to getting involved. However, it is important to note that there is a national shortage of educators. According to National Education, 55% of teachers plan to leave the profession prematurely. Therefore, while the PTA can provide great opportunities for networking and developing leadership and professional skills that can be resume builders, its primary intent is to make a difference for students, families, and schools.

Those interested in establishing a relationship with teachers and the APE must be sensitive to the current environment. Dr. Eve Goldstein is a teacher trainer and director of Westchester Child Therapy in Scarsdale, New York, and Calabasas Child and Adolescent Psychology in Calabasas, California. Dr. Goldstein says parent support for teachers is an essential part of helping schools thrive.

“In today’s school environment, it is important to recognize that we ask a lot of our educators. This is a multifaceted problem. However, proactive and communicative relationships between parents and teachers have a positive impact on the school environment.

The PTA enables working mothers to develop new work skills and build relationships. In the workplace, relationship building skills are essential for getting along with colleagues, contributing to a team, and creating understanding between yourself and others. It turns out that not only are these skills also essential at a child’s school, but working moms can learn them there too.