We were ready to leave Chicago (and winter) behind so I began searching for new jobs and had been reading a lot about IBM. Not having any direct connections there, I just applied through their design website. Being remote, the process was long and much more difficult, but after several months I got an offer and started the process of moving our family across the country.
Surprisingly, this is the way I’ve gotten the majority of my jobs, just applying through their website, the digital equivalent of a cold call. There is the statistic out there about how women will only apply to jobs if they meet 100% of the listed criteria, while men apply when they meet pretty much any of the criteria. I always have to force myself to just apply, to put myself out there. There is no harm in applying.
Mental, physical and emotional health. That doesn’t mean that having it all isn’t sometimes exhausting or really hard work. While I am learning to balance doing my work, motherhood, marriage, friendships, personal projects if I don’t have my mental, physical and emotional health I’m not living my life purposefully or with happiness. Being able to mentally get through tough days with my children or emotional hurdles with my husband or physical exhaustion from back to back meetings, that fortitude is what having it all means to me. If I had everything in my life but not the mental, physical or emotional health to enjoy it then do I really have it all? To maintain that health I carve out precious time for self-care in all different shapes and sizes: a walk around the block, a new face mask or a dinner out with friends.
Look past the surface of a job or title and find the essence of what it is you love to do and/or excel at and how your job facilitates that passion. Nerd out, write up a list of the things that excite you and use it as a checklist when you are applying and interviewing. Ask questions to get the answers you need from that list. The job title isn’t going to tell you if you will be fulfilled. On the surface, the through-line of my career path has been “visualizations” or worse “decoration”, but that definition could not hold less interest for me (though I do like things to look nice, naturally). For me, what gets me out of bed in the morning, is “problem-solving”, in all the roles I’ve held, whether it was as a UX Lead, visual designer, or a sales associate at a jewelry store, I’ve framed the role as analyzing a problem and presenting informed solutions.
My biggest challenge is remaining fulfilled in my work life. Being fulfilled in my work life allows me the peace of mind to separate work life from home life and fully focus on my family when I leave the office. The time when I have felt the most unfulfilled in work I have been distracted at home and it has lead me to a cycle of comparison and critique. Knowing this about myself has helped me know when it is time to leave a job.
My biggest success is getting to work early. My children are early risers and I start my day before them so I am up before the sun. I get to work well before my coworkers and feel like I have accomplished the majority of my work before 11am. It’s invigorating and keeps me productive. My job supports that flexibility so I leave work earlier and have more active play time with my kids before they go to bed. I’ve been on this schedule since my daughter was born almost 3 years ago and it’s just what myself and our family need.
My mother always worked throughout my childhood and that had a huge impact on me. At one point my father stayed home and there was a bit of a societal role reversal. This dynamic has greatly informed the example I want to set for my son and daughter. Most women in my life “worked”. My grandmother, my aunt's, my cousins all climbed the corporate ladder. My family is very matriarchal in nature and championing of women in whatever life they want to lead including making that money outside of the home is celebrated and supported. Also one of my first professors in college was a single mother of twin girls who climbed the advertising ladder during the mad men era and was a general bad-ass at life. She always included raising children as one of her professional accomplishments while my male professors never mentioned if they had families. Seeing how she embraced motherhood as a part of her professional persona was something I carry with me today. I have personally become a better employee because of the skills I have acquired in motherhood. I better add that to my resume!