I'm introducing a new series featuring interviews with real millennial working moms (MWM)! Every month I will be profiling a different MWM to get the inside scoop on motherhood, balancing work and home, and carving out 'me' time. Oh, and I'm including fun little tidbits like their drink of choice and trashy TV picks 'cause let's be honest, we all need our little indulgences.
Our second MWM is Samara Reynolds, mom to an adorable 10 month-old daughter (our girls were born days apart!), Director of Career Services at a local college, and founder of Parental Pivot, a career consulting practice for working parents and parents-to-be. And, in case you missed it, Samara wrote a pretty kick-ass piece on her top resume tips for moms returning the workforce. It's a definite read if you haven't already!
What is your job title?
Director of Career Services
What do you love most about your job?
Even after almost 12 years in the field (starting from when I was a college student myself, interning at Virginia Tech’s career services office), I still feel like my job involves something new to learn and do every day. I am proud that my efforts as Director help bring in unique and interesting jobs and internships for students to take advantage of on their way to defining and achieving their career goals. I also play a role in brand-building for our university with the employment, graduate school, and local community, which helps create partnership opportunities and generate resources.
How has being a mom influenced your role at work?
It has given me a whole new level of respect and empathy for working parents, whether those individuals are members of my staff, colleagues across campus, or our students pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree, balancing many life roles. I try to provide coaching and encouragement in the realm of work-life balance/integration whenever possible, and ask people about their children more often (because I enjoy talking about mine!). As much as I love my job, I do my best to head home at a reasonable hour and be truly present with my child and partner during the time we have together during the week. Sometimes this means saying no and setting boundaries, and even disappointing people, which can be hard, but is often a good thing for everyone in the long-run. Since becoming a mom, I have also become a ready source of information and support for working parents and parents-to-be, at my workplace and beyond.
What do you find most challenging about being a millennial working mom?
The 24/7 nature of communication today, along with managing in a multi-generational workplace, sets up some difficult and conflicting expectations when it comes to availability, work hours, and response time. Millennials tend to care about and advocate more readily for work-life balance/integration, and as a young mother, this is even more important to me personally. However, academia is a traditional field in a number of respects, so we may not always be on the cutting edge of perks like telecommuting and flex time, and in-office daycare facilities that can make working motherhood a bit easier to handle as a tech-savvy, efficient, and family-forward millennial mom.
What has been most surprising about motherhood?
How very tiring it is! I know people warned me about the lack of sleep, but it definitely takes a toll on my ability to focus and be patient in certain situations. I had thought perhaps my child would be sleeping through the night (so I could too) by now (almost 10 months in), but we are still working towards that goal. Being a working mom means having two full-time jobs, and one that often includes the night shift. As someone who really loved sleeping before baby (9 hours was my sweet spot), I do dream of the day I might be able to get that kind of rest again.
How do you carve out ‘me time’ and what does that look like for you?
In some ways I feel like work is my “me time,” because I’m really passionate about what I do and find it easy to immerse myself in the interesting and innovative work on our campus. But of course, I would also define “me time” as going out for a meal or early happy hour with a friend or colleague, catching up on Instagram on my couch with a glass of wine or some vegan ice cream next to my husband, or getting a nice walk in with my family, as exercise is great (and still rare) for me, and taking time together outside is rejuvenating.
What is one essential beauty product you can’t live without?
I’ll pick two: lip balm (favorites = Hurraw and Soothing Touch brands) and concealer (100% Pure brand).
What is your drink of choice?
Daytime: chai latte or some nice cold water.
Nights and weekends: Hefeweizen beer or a glass of wine from Washington state.
Must-watch trashy TV?
Not sure I’d call it trashy, but I am really into Jane the Virgin these days, as it’s light and fun with a bit of telenovela-style drama. I also watched a lot of Gossip Girl in my early days as a mom, hanging out while baby nursed or napped. My husband and I also regularly watch the MTV Challenge shows, which definitely falls into the trashy category!
What is your favorite item of clothing for work?
I always feel professional when I throw on a blazer. I tend to like ones made out of softer or more casual fabrics because they are comfortable like a cardigan, but add an extra professional punch to any outfit.
If you could offer a piece of advice to other millennial working moms, what would it be?
Seek out other new/young working moms at your office to get to know better. It has made a big difference in my transition back to work and through this first year as a new mom to have people at work who “get it” and are in it with me, in addition to other friends and family members. Even if you didn’t know a particular person well before baby, now is a good time to invite them for coffee or out to lunch to talk about the challenges and rewards of working motherhood. Trading tips and stories and baby pictures with a new friend can really turn a tough day around!