Returning to work after having a baby? For Marisa, believing that you can do it is crucial when job hunting, and it's a lot like breastfeeding. Read on to find out how she got on with both.
Nursing and Job Hunting Are Kind of the Same
I knew it was coming. I knew it was part of the process. I knew it would hurt. And I knew I would get through it: The Let-Down.
You see, I’m a breastfeeding mother who is also looking for a new job. This means that I spend a good chunk of time nursing my baby and a good chunk of time looking for jobs. And one thing that both of these activities have in common is the Let-Down that comes with it.
Nursing, especially at the beginning, is really hard and can often be painful. Putting aside all the latching challenges and nipple pain that can arise, just the feeling of having a lot of milk building up and then being released can really, really hurt.
That’s the Let-Down. And it sucks. Thankfully, it only lasts a minute or two during the initial rush and as the baby gets older, the Let-Down gradually lessens until you no longer feel it. So the best thing you can do as a breastfeeding mother is deal with it: expect it, understand that it’s a part of the process, and hold on until it passes. At least that’s what I do.
Job hunting is quite similar. It’s long and painful. You get a lot of disappointment and rejection. There is nothing much you can do except expect it, understand that it’s a part of the process, and hold on until you find the job that you are looking for. So that’s what I’m doing too.
You get a lot of disappointment and rejection. There is nothing much you can do except expect it, understand that it’s a part of the process, and hold on until you find the job that you are looking for.
Preparing for Success
Still, nothing prepared me for the Let-Down that happened a few months ago. I found a great job vacancy through a contact, who was also nice enough to put my CV in front of the hiring manager. It didn’t take long before I had an initial phone interview, which went well. Ten days later, I got an invitation for two face-to-face interviews, one with the hiring manager and one with the corporate recruiter. The first interview with the hiring manager went great and I felt like I nailed it. It even lasted longer than originally planned. The corporate recruiter was tougher, but still I felt like I did ok. All in all, I walked out of the building feeling satisfied. Then I got a call back for a second round of interviews, this time with the Department Head.
I was pumped! It was a great position and getting a call-back was a great sign. I thought I had a real shot!
So I prepped. I prepared for this interview more than I had for any previous interviews. I went over my experience and skills backwards and forwards, making sure that I could clearly tell my whole story. I carefully went over all my strengths and weaknesses and even read long lists of possible interview questions to be ready for whatever they asked.
The morning of the interview, just as I was starting to go into professional mode, I got a call from the recruiter. She bluntly informed me that there had been a mistake. They had confused my name with someone else, and they had never intended to invite me back for a second interview. My interview was cancelled.
So there it was. After all my excitement and preparations, I had been brutally rejected and I felt like I had been punched in the gut. It was worse than any other rejection or job hunting disaster I had experienced. This was the ultimate Let-Down.
I was done. I forgot my Let-Down mantra: “This sucks, I can get through it” and instead, I replaced it with: “I quit.” I cried hysterically and informed Dutchie that he needed to start looking for work in my home country because that’s where we were going. I clearly wasn’t going to find my professional life living as an expat in the Netherlands.
So there it was. After all my excitement and preparations, I had been brutally rejected and I felt like I had been punched in the gut.
Here We Go Again...
As my life goes though, soon enough I had to pull myself somewhat back together to take care of my kids. Life distracted me enough to carry on during the really rough patch. I still needed to lick my wounds, but gradually, I got some distance and started to heal.
About a month later, a different contact reached out to me about a job vacancy. Naturally, my mind took me back to the previous month and I found myself scared to go through that ordeal again. But by then I had gotten enough perspective and breastfeeding hours to remember the truth – the Let-Down is inevitable but not permanent. I know it’s part of the process. I know it will suck. And if I can survive the last rejection, I can certainly give this vacancy a shot.
So I reached out and started the application process again...and this time – I got the job!
What I've Learned
I guess the moral of my story is that Let-Downs happen. Breastfeeding can hurt and job hunting is an emotional rollercoaster and sometimes just plain horrible. But as mothers, we have a lot more to lose by quitting. If I had stopped breastfeeding at the initial sign of pain, then I wouldn’t be able to cuddle and feed my child now, almost a year later. And if I had quit job hunting then, I wouldn’t have found the job I have now.
Getting through both those processes sucked. But in the end, the pain of both Let-Downs, was worth it.
Marisa is a 'third culture kid,' and while she doesn't remember ever crossing into adulthood, she now finds herself trying to integrate into Dutch life, while mastering the delicate art of being a mother, and figuring out her career as she goes.