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Strong Enough to Bear the Children; Then Get Back to Business

9 months. Usually correlated with the amount of time it takes a woman to carry a child. No, I did not birth another baby. I birthed the next step in my career.

Prior to going on maternity leave in 2017, I started having career conversations with my manager, and shared with her my goal and plan. She was onboard, and gave me guidance on what I needed to do, to secure the role I wanted. For obvious reasons, I didn’t dive in right away. I took my 6 month leave, and returned to work a totally new woman. I mean I was tired, emotional and everything else that comes with being a new mom, but my eyes were still on the prize. I began making myself more visible within my organization, doing stretch projects and checking in with my manager every other week during our 1:1’s, to make sure I was doing everything I needed to do to land that role.

After being back for only four months, a role opened up in a different business segment. Unsure of whether or not I wanted to take that role, I took the interview anyway. Even if nothing came of it, I knew I’d be getting the experience of interviewing for an internal position. I also knew that this would further increase my visibility within the organization. The interview went really well, but unfortunately I didn’t land the role. I received stellar feedback, but they went with a candidate who was more skilled in one of the products that was an immediate need for the team. No hard feelings, I kept it moving. About a week after that interview, I had a manager stop me in the hallway and he said “I heard you did amazing during your interview for the AE position on XYZ’s team. I may have something opening up on my team soon, I’ll keep you posted.” Naturally, I thought I was sure to land the next role. Maybe I was a little too sure LOL. He did In fact have a position open up a few months later, but I didn’t get that one either. See the thing about interviewing for an internal role is that more than likely all of the candidates are capable of doing the job. I work with some really smart people, so the competition was thick! We were an interview loop of about 5/6, and I didn’t even make it to the final round. I was devastated, confused and a little hard on myself for at least not making it to the final round. I did everything I could to prepare for the interview, I had great feedback coming out of my prior interview, and I had checked all the boxes in my current role, to even apply for a new role. The hiring manager scheduled time with me to provide his feedback. I appreciated this, because it’s always good to know where you can improve, to increase your chances of landing a role the next go round. Back to the drawing board I went!

I am apart of a reverse mentor group at work, and my reverse mentor is a boss mamma I respect and admire. She is a mom of four boys, and has a super successful career. In a reverse mentor relationship, I’m technically supposed to be mentoring her (she sits on the leadership team) on any challenges or opportunities I have, how messaging from the top down is landing and basically anything else we decide to discuss. She made it very clear in our first meeting, that we’d leave the space open and that I could come to her with anything I wanted. So I did. I talked to her about not getting that role, and what I could do to land the next one. I was already having these types of conversations with my manager, but it was good to get an unbiased opinion. She made it clear that often times it had nothing to do with what I was doing wrong, but what the needs of the team were. I kept this is my mind, and gave myself grace.

A few weeks went by and ANOTHER role opened up. I knew this hiring manager fairly well, she knew all about my experience and invited me to interview for her team. Again, another interview loop of super smart people, ready to take the next step in their careers. Because most of us had recently interviewed, we didn’t need to go through the full process again. They already had all of our feedback in the system, so we only needed to have an interview with the hiring manager. We each had 30 minutes with her. Again, I didn’t get the role. By this point, I couldn’t keep up the positive pep talks. I was pissed at myself! Three interviews, and I didn’t get ANY of the positions. I let my manager know that I would not be interviewing for any more roles. I was going to focus on my current role, and think about what’s next. But at that moment, I wasn’t interested….PERIOD.

I also set up time with my skip manager (my manager’s boss), and shared with him how I’d been feeling etc. Before we could end our meeting, he let me know that one of my colleagues had resigned, and her position would be available. Mind you, I had just assured everyone that I was NOT GOING TO TORTURE MYSELF AGAIN. He told me to think about it. Well I didn’t have much time to think about it, because the following day the hiring manager on that team sent me an email to schedule my interview. “God, what are you trying to tell me? I’m supposed to be focusing on my current role, why are you pressuring me.” These are some of the questions I was asking the big man upstairs.

Nonetheless, I applied. The whole week leading up to my interview, I was nervous. I wasn’t nervous about the actual interview. C’mon I was an interview expert by this point! I was nervous, because I didn’t know TOO much about this manager. I knew he was super smart, so I was excited that I would learn new skills. But I was a little unsure of whether or not I would get the same amount of flexibility my current manager gave me. Turns out I was totally overthinking the whole thing. The interview went amazing, I felt extremely comfortable and we got to know each other better. I assured him that I did not need any special work arrangement that was outside of our company’s already amazing culture. My family is my priority, and that sometimes requires me to come in a little later, leave earlier some days, or work remote. It was a TOUGH conversation that I was unsure I’d be able to have, but it was also a necessary one. When you interview, it’s not just to see if you are a fit for the team or company. You also need to make sure the team or company is a fit for you and your lifestyle. The next day, he asked me to meet with him. My stomach did cartwheels. This could either go really good or REALLY bad. We sat down, he asked me how I felt about the team and the interview process. He asked me a few more questions, and let me know that he’d be extending an offer to me. “Are you serious?” I said. I was shocked. Not shocked because I didn’t deserve it, but just shocked because after 3 NO’s, I finally received a YES. He shared some feedback with me, and let me know that he was really impressed with my ability to have tough conversations in a professional manner. As a salesperson in Corporate America, that’s a really important skill to possess. We’re in the business of making money! People will tell you no hundreds of times, but you can’t stop until you get that yes.

As you can imagine, I was overjoyed. The feeling brought me back to that day four years prior, when I first received my job offer with the company. If you read my previous blog post on my Moment of Truth, you’d understand why. So after nine long, exhausting and emotionally draining months, I finally landed the role I wanted. After I processed everything that I had been through, I laughed at myself for ever doubting whether or not I was qualified. I am that friend who will encourage you into believing nothing is impossible, and here I was doing the opposite. I extend grace to people every day, and I wasn’t doing the same for myself. SMH!

All in all, my experience was quite a learning lesson. The crazy thing is that it’s not even a lesson that I haven’t learned before. But sometimes, we lose sight of what the goal is, or the work it requires to achieve it. It’s natural. As mothers, we’re constantly being pulled in different directions, we’re constantly questioning whether or not we’re doing what’s best for our families, but one thing I always remind myself and any other mamma I come in contact with, is that the time it takes to achieve our goals may be slightly delayed, but we can not lose sight of the goals we have or had before becoming a parent. Our children are watching. Let’s teach them resilience, grace and the power in completing what we start.

Here’s a few tips on how to land an internal role at work.
1. Have ongoing conversations with your manager about your career path.
2. Make yourself visible. When a role opens up, your name should come to mind. If it doesn’t, you’re not doing enough.
3. Ask for continuous feedback. Take it, process it and apply it.
4. Don’t beat yourself up! It’s not always about what you’re doing wrong.
5. Add value. Really land the messaging on why YOU are the right fit for the position. Anyone can do the job, but highlight what makes you unique and why you’re the best person for the job.
6. When you’re in that interview room, you’re not just an interviewee, you’re an interviewer as well.

Millennial Mamma