Hello, I’m Mindy Berkower, Chief Client Officer and General Counsel at iRelaunch. That’s a long title, I know! I manage iRelaunch’s relationships with many of our key corporate clients. I also lead iRelaunch’s legal function, handling all of our contracts and advising our team on a range of legal and strategic matters.
Each year, as our iRelaunch Return to Work Conferences approach, I think back to registering for the 2012 Conference as a wide-eyed, nervous relauncher. I was eager to return to the paid workforce after taking a long career break to be at home with my two children. I was in search of advice about how a 50-something-year-old corporate and securities lawyer who had practiced in large New York City firms for 10 years and whose last day of paid work was back in the mid-1990s (!!!) should chart her professional course forward. Since the Conference was in person, I also wanted to know what to wear (“business casual,” advised a helpful pre-Conference iRelaunch email)!
The 2012 Conference exceeded my expectations and was a real game changer for me.
First, I realized that I was not alone. I marveled at the hundreds of fellow relaunchers in the room and at the tremendous professional backgrounds of those at my table and the many others that I met.
Second, I found the content presented to be practical and actionable. Happily, I learned that the demanding and skin-thickening PTA leadership roles that I had recently completed were resumé-worthy “strategic volunteering” roles that I should prominently feature on my resume and LinkedIn profile and discuss with potential employers. I considered which PTA anecdotes would be the best to share to highlight my “transferable skills.” I revisited the accomplishments of my legal practice days. I also learned that I should get back in touch with lawyers from my old firms because they would remember me, in iRelaunch’s words, as “frozen in time”: as the smart, diligent, and resourceful professional I was and not the chief chauffeur, calendar architect, and grocery shopper I thought I had become. (Reconnecting with former colleagues proved to be fun and a delightful confidence booster.)
Finally, I learned that I should own my career break, not apologize for it, and be confident in my credentials, skills, and ability to learn and contribute to a new organization.
After a long, information-packed day, I left the Conference, not fatigued and overwhelmed but, instead, invigorated and motivated.
I told everyone I knew how great the Conference was and I got to work implementing the return to work strategies I had learned. A few months later, I saw in iRelaunch’s newsletter that iRelaunch was looking to hire an Executive in Residence for an eight-month returnship: someone to help promote the 2013 Conference to colleges, universities, and alumni organizations, someone who was on career break, who had attended at least one Conference, who could communicate well, who had enthusiasm…wait, that person was ME! I applied for the role, was interviewed and hired, and quickly became immersed in promoting the Conference and expanding iRelaunch’s higher education community. My efforts contributed to an unusually early sell-out, allowing iRelaunch to present its first-ever simulcast in order to accommodate those relaunchers who were on the wait list. It was deeply rewarding to be part of that success. An opening on the small iRelaunch staff led to my being hired at the conclusion of my returnship.
Over the years, I have had many different responsibilities as iRelaunch’s business has continued to develop and grow. My role has grown into a leadership position encompassing business development, client relationship management, strategic planning, and -- particularly satisfying from a “full circle” perspective – legal work. I am continually grateful to be part of this wonderful, mission-driven company that advocates and innovates for my fellow relaunchers.
While our Conferences shifted to virtual in 2020 and the attendee experience necessarily changed, attending the Conference still checks all of the boxes as a uniquely valuable, supportive, strategic step in the career relaunch process. I will always associate attending the 2012 Conference as the start of both my own relaunch and my relationship with iRelaunch.