Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Mommy Gap

Here's something else you don't think about before you have kids: The mommy gap. 

Yes, I'm re-entering the "workforce." Theoretically.

Two months and eleven interviews later, I'm still sitting here with you on a Tuesday morning.
At least the coffee is good here.

And as I write, I can't help but put everything in this post in "quotes." The whole notion that I have been sitting on my a$$ and not gaining additional "work" skills while I've been multi-tasking with the twyns is absurd. Let me show you my list of mommy references who can attest to my growth in team-building, event-planning, recruiting, networking, motivational speaking, training, and teaching abilities.

Oh also, stress and anger management.

That's: facilitating all members of the organization through stressful and anger-inducing situations, including exempt [the husband] and non-exempt [the twyns] employees. 

Not to mention that I have spent many long hours at paying positions that don't belong on my "work" resume, including my sewing/Etsy business, my musical theatre gigs, and composition/guest artist gig at Duke, which culminated in premiering a new musical in NYC. Non-paying positions that no employer wants to hear about include this blog, volunteer positions in my mommy groups [treasurer for two years], the twins preschool [assisting in fundraisers], and now their elementary school [homeroom parent, and now VP of clubs.]

Yeah, clearly there is a gap that needs addressing [insert eye roll the size of a fourteen-year-old's at parents on the first day of school.]

Let me tell you what I've learned these last two months.

You are still relevant.
Upon the eve of my first interview I really really didn't think I was relevant anymore. I may have given my husband an earful while he was prepping me the night before. Like, a whiny, six-year-old, earful. I didn't know the names of the new software all the kids are using, I didn't know if my music admissions experience would have altered my knowledge of general admissions and recruiting, and I didn't know if I could even remember what I used to do, much less relay that to someone I've never met. It was not a pretty interview, but it wasn't ugly either. I missed the real question behind some of the questions, and I misstepped a few times. For instance, I tried to name-drop a friend's husband who had taught a course at this institution.
"Frank..." [insert blank stare and awkward pause.]
"Well, you see, his wife is really my friend, and she has a different last name than he does...and her name is..." [insert even longer, more blanker stare and more awkward pause....]
[let's move on, twynmawrmom...]
 "So going back to what we were discussing earlier..." 
[grasping at straws for another subject matter for the next five minutes, during which I find myself without a filter and bursting out:]
"LEWINSKI! FRANK. LEWINSKI!" [not his real name, but you get the cringe.]
You are actually amazing.
By interview #4 I did not need to name drop. I did not need to make pleasantries. They were looking for a recruiter/admissions professional, I was the one who was able to accomplish their goals. We were here to discuss business. I have done that. And I have done this, too. And I have an answer for that question, and I know what you are going to ask next. Let me show you who I am.

I have to say, by the time I ironed out my best, most illustrative work stories, I sounded like a rock star, even to myself! Remember, mommies: you are amazing. And you breastfed twyns, too. [Actually had an interview start out with asking me the details of this fact and how it works. Let me send you the link lady.]

You no longer need to wear panty hose.
My first question to my "working" mom-friends was the panty hose question. I absolutely have always abhorred panty hose, and thankfully it was the consensus amongst my peers that no one really wore it anymore. In fact, the workplace has gotten even more casual in the last six years, and this includes conversation. Especially when you are discussing attracting millennials. We need to get down to brass tacks. There is no beating around the bush: millennials are hard to connect with, and you need to be able to draw them in. I'm a people-person. I can do this.

Buuuuuuuut, don't get toooo comfortable, twynmawrmom.

When interview #1 was ending, they let me know that round 2 was going to take place after one of the interviewers was back from his trip to Ireland.
"Oh! Have a drink for me!"
[twynmawrmom. WHAT. THE FUH. Did you mean 'have a pint'?!?! Something a little more witty? This is not a friendly conversation. This is a business transaction. Get your mind out of the liquor store, mommypants.]

You are worth being BOLD.
By interview #6, I was not pulling punches anymore. Yup, I'm amazing. Yup, I can do that. Yup, I'm kind of funny, too, and I bring a positive atmosphere to the workplace and I know that I will be a great asset to your team. For a job posting that asked for a 'brief cover letter', I even just included a list of personal stats (admissions rate impact, yield rate impact, employees supervised & trained) and two additional sentences. I do not have time to write you a book, and you don't want a book. We want to get to the heart of the matter, and that is, my employability and my 'fit' in your organization. I deserve to be bold with my statements, and I got even more attention after I started to do so. More attention from my cover letter, and more second interviews. There is no reason not to assert the fact that I am highly employable and capable. The question is, are you the place for me?!

I look back on my first cover letter from about six months ago, when I started to gear myself up, and I actually mentioned our move to Philly due to my husband's promotion and the birth of my twins, in the first sentence. No, no no. All wrong. AMATEUR! Now this is a fact I don't hide from the first interview, but it in NO WAY belongs on a cover letter.

You are planning for the next career move, not this one.
What I've also started to realize through this process is that my next employer better be a big one. I don't want to put too much pressure on it, but I know myself. And I know that I like to get into a place and assert my presence. There will also, however, be some transitional growing pains with being a "working mommy" and wanting to still be available for my kids. So I need to think about this next position as an understanding of what the one after that is. What I will want and need when the kids are in high school, as opposed to what I want and need now that they are in elementary school. So I'm trying to set myself up for that. I've also discussed the idea of a career placeholder rather than a career maker. It would be nice if Wharton called me for a second interview, but I'd also be happy with a part time position at a large university that would have room for me to move up. Next position, not this one.

So that's what I've learned, mommies.

FEAR NOT, THE MOMMY GAP!

FEAR NOT, YOUR RELEVANCE! 

FEAR NOT, THE WORKFORCE. 

We've done it before and we'll do it again. 

It will always be there for us, whether it's been 1 year, 5 years, or 10 years.

We can do this, too.



Now back to our regularly scheduled PTO meetings. 
And that musical I've been writing for a year.
And it's raft night at the pool. 
RAFT NIGHT!


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