Ask Kay: Is pursuing a nanny position the equivalent to career suicide?

Dear Kay, I have a Master’s degree- is pursuing a nanny position the equivalent to career suicide? My family seems to thinks so!

Don’t nanny. Adventure Nanny: A nanny service for active families, but more importantly, a service for kick-ass women who want to take over the world.

 Prelude:

It was the summer of 2008. My heart had been broken earlier in the year, and with the bitterness of spite still lingering in my mouth, just enough fire in my eyes, and a whole lot to prove, I decided to “travel the world.” An aching feeling that was only eased by constant wandering fueled me for several months. It helped me navigate a handful of countries on my own, with my vintage, Swiss, army backpack and few possessions to keep me company.

I was a college dropout. A “Jill of all trades” with very little money, and nothing but the shell of a future that I was bemused to fill. I decided the adventure was sufficient for me. The tall-tales that would be told in my wake as I passed were motivation enough. More importantly, if I just kept going I could avoid being decisive about what others kept calling “real life.”

I found myself settled in a not-so-central European city, once again trying to figure out what it was I was “supposed” to be doing. I often trolled the Internet and back roads for inspiration. It was as though I was begging for a calling. I wanted an ad or person to pop-up and say, “HEY! THIS is what you should do! THIS is who you should be! THIS is your path! CLICK HERE! FOLLOW ME!” Of course, that never happened. However, somehow I came across an intriguing website: Adventure Nannies.

Now, at the time I thought to myself, “Hmmm. I need to tuck this away. It seems like a neat group of people I would like to know one day.” As it turns out, I wasn’t ready to contact them, because I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel and come crawling back to a socially acceptable vocation in the United States. I wish I could remember what “key words” I was searching in Google at the time. I wish I had left a trace of evidence as to how Adventure Nannies ended up on the screen, but all I have is the little file I stored away in my mind labeled, “Misc.: to be opened at a later date.”

Interestingly enough, I did become a nanny that summer for a small family in the countryside that grew to be quite large over the years. My time with that family ended up opening doors I had never dreamed existed. The relationships I built during that time led me to feel passionate about ideas and work I will cherish for my lifetime. My time with that family was the weathervane that guided me personally, educationally, and professionally to this day.

Years later, in January of 2014, I was a college graduate who had completed her master’s degree, and I was once again working abroad; an opportunity that was entirely developed, because of the family I worked for. My CEO, who I served directly, asked me to find him a nanny that would move abroad and live with his family for the summer. BAM! It was as though I had been struck by lightning. “I knew I would need that file one day!” I thought to myself. Days later I proudly presented him with everything he could have hoped for: an organization that was devoted to connecting unique and active families, with capable and adventurous individuals.

The focus of this series is on Career Development.

  • Part One of this series will investigate the misconceptions about what working as a nanny does for your career, if anything.

  • Part Two is a practical guide for all of the nannies out there (and for those who are assessing what skills they will develop by becoming a nanny), who need help marketing their skills, and packaging them for their next career move.

  • Part Three explores a wide range of career-oriented questions asked by nannies, and those exploring becoming a nanny.

 

Part One

We at Adventure Nannies take great pride in the work we do. We will tell you: we are unlike any other agency in the world. Our clients consist of the most brilliant and innovative families, and our nannies are never “just nannies.” They are tastemakers, adventurers, academics, trailblazers, and athletes. Even as I write this, I think of the amazing opportunities and characters we are afforded to work with, and I get chills.

It makes me beg the question, “Who wouldn’t want to be a nanny?” Alarmingly, becoming a nanny is a difficult choice for many powerful and driven women (and men) out there, which is where I want to start us off.

In the past year, we have had some of the most fascinating jobs cross our organizational path. Today, we have an opportunity to travel the world for a period of three years with an incredible family, and another offering opportunities to sail the Mediterranean. We have positions in desirable cities across the United States, all with comprehensive benefits packages, expansive, worldly experiences, and a handsome paycheck for a financially stable future. And yet, thinking about pursuing a nanny position feels equivalent to career suicide. Why is this?

 Forbes came out with an article last winter about what we should really look for when thinking about our next job. It is worth a quick glance, because at its core, it prompts you to see beyond the cultural norms of what a “worthy career” looks like. An important takeaway is how the days of picking a profession, and following a clear path, which leads to an inevitable ladder to be climbed (sometimes higher by some than others) is behind us.

It is a precarious time where the language we use as a society is limited to that particular track, and the voices telling us we could be made for something different are packaged with the rhetoric of “risky business,” and, “alternative choices.” Our lips quiver amongst loved ones and friends when we talk about plans that don’t fall within the traditional pursuit of happiness. To make things worse, the success stories seem too far-fetched. The millionaire college dropout isn’t quite what we are reaching for. We don’t necessarily have the next best invention since Facebook. The days of becoming a specialist don’t flatter the global workplace, which is much better suited for a savvy generalist, who can not only outperform in one area, but many, and with ease.

Penelope Trunk wrote in 2012, “I realized that most people in their 20s are worried, at one point or another, that they are messing up their lives. Especially people who take alternative paths. Yet, it’s the alternative paths that give people the most control over their lives as they get older.” I would like to push this concept even further by saying it is your path that will give you the most control over your life. Your path, call it alternative if that works for you, is the path that may or may not follow suit. Your path is deeply rooted in the desire to live authentically. Your path is about making choices that align with the things you want to accomplish in your life. This may be a corporate ladder, and it may be a clearly defined track, but it may not.

Adventure Nannies seeks to re-conceptualize the age-old impressions of “being a nanny,” because it seems to unearth deeply seeded impressions of a woman who has very little to offer this world other than minding children, which she should naturally be good at, (because she is a woman).

The women we usher into the field are not on a dead-end track to a career as a nanny. They are using the trade and its opportunities to help them carve the path they want to walk down. They are brilliant minds with Master’s degrees working for brilliant minds with connections they previously dreamed of having. They are writers chasing time to perfect their tales. They are accomplished teachers who can now focus their efforts on a handful of kids rather than an over-crowded classroom. Adventure Nannies are people who are deeply satisfied by the daily challenges of managing complex households. They relish in supporting the emotional and physical needs of the children in their care.

In the remaining parts of this series, I will dig deeper into how becoming a nanny can bolster and illuminate the path you are already on. I will provide you with some talking points, and resume building tips. I will also urge you to choose your own path, and think critically about what jobs will support this fully.


About Kay:

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Kay is a tried and true adventurer who has honed her communication skills through 3 languages, global travel, higher education, and a whole lot of work.  She started off as a nanny abroad for a family of 5 that evolved into 9, and gradually strengthened those skills with a bachelor’s in Communication Studies and a master’s in Conflict Resolution.

Kay is an advocate of proactive personal development and intentional communication.  Her work in community development and engagement has primed her to dig deep into tough issues, which we find to be relevant to the work we do with our families.  Her tenure on the executive board of a large corporation as the Organizational Development Director seasons her to identify and work through tough issues.

Kay is an active listener and an exceptional writer.  We believe her to have the ideal skill-set to serve our nannies and families in working through the dynamic and pressing questions they encounter along the way.

Please send any and all questions or comments regarding nanny life to askkay@adventurenannies.com