Working through new motherhood: Leaky boobs, lunch dates, and chunky jewelry

This was me on my first day back to work after a 12 week maternity leave...

olviia pope .gif

Riiiight. As much as I wish I channeled my inner Olivia Pope, my first days back looked more like...

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New motherhood is the great humbler. Nothing knocks you off your “I got my shit together” high horse like a teeny tiny, nocturnal human. While some make those first days seem easier than others, we all know that a few weeks of time off is not enough to feel like you’re operating at your best when you do go back to your job. I’d like to offer the new moms out there tips to make the transition back to career woman a little easier.

Mind your boobies. If you are breastfeeding, make sure your time is blocked effectively on your calendar. I explicitly posted “PUMP” in capital letters so that no one dared to interrupt my “milking:” time. May as well put it all out there. While we’re talking about pumping strategies. Long meetings could make your boobies ticking time bombs for leakage so make sure you tell people when you have a hard stop.


Go shopping. Retail therapy solves all of life’s problems, right? Maybe not, but before you throw a toddler level tantrum about none of your clothes fitting, remember you are a badass goddess boss lady who brought life into the world and deserve to be worshipped - stretch marks and all. Investing in a few, reasonably priced pieces that will make you feel comfortable and stylish. I lived in “legging pants” and longer, button down tunics (easy boob access), with a cardigan/blazer over it. Gigantic, chunky necklaces also serve as a nice distraction from other “problem areas”.

Call upon your village. The first day is….rough. It seems unconscionable to leave behind this helpless little bundle of love who JUST started to smile, coo, and provide some sort of return on investment for those lonnnnnnnnnnnng nights. Find other mamas in your company, or who work nearby, and make a lunch date with them. They know your struggles, and it will be nice to have something to look forward to on the first day. For example, my village of working mamas introduced me to this medieval device that made pumping much more efficient.

Look how happy this model is!

Look how happy this model is!

Don’t quit your day job. New motherhood turned your life inside out. Now everything seems different (who knew diaper commercials were SO emotional???). Before you decide to light your entire career on fire, quit your job, and start a new life where your baby and you live together uninterrupted in mommy/baby bliss, remember working moms are good for babies. Take things day-by-day and know you’re doing the best you can.

Style your virtual professional outfit: Tips to optimize LinkedIn and get noticed

Don’t get left out of the party. 50 million people are on LinkedIn. Are you?

Why LinkedIn

Think of LinkedIn as the nice virtual equivalent to the nice outfit you wear for an interview or the rolodex of contacts people kept back in the day.

                                     FYI this is a rolodex

                                     FYI this is a rolodex

Quick Tips:

1)    Complete your profile. Do you show up shirtless to an interview? Nope. Make sure your profile is fully dressed, too.

       What's your snack policy?

       What's your snack policy?

Profiles that are 100% complete get the most exposure. Make sure you completed your summary, added relevant experiences, asked individuals for recommendations, and included a picture.

2)    Make personalized connection requests. You wouldn't randomly knock on someone's door. The same etiquette applies when reaching out to potential LinkedIn connections. Include a brief message on how you know a person and why you want to connect with them.  Many people indicate their connection preferences in their profiles. Begin by asking people you know to join your network and expand from there.

3)    Keywords are Key.  Understand and use the language of your audience. Use the “Skills & Expertise” tool, located in the “More” menu and on your profile. This will help you identify keywords to populate your profile which can help you demonstrate your expertise, use of relevant jargon for a particular career path and potentially be found in a search.

4)    Join Groups.  Groups are a great way to build your network within your industry and community.  Consider your career/professional school interests. Join university alumni groups. Identify groups based on professional associations and common interests.

5)    Summarize Yourself. Creating a summary for yourself on LinkedIn is extremely individualized based on your experience and your goals.  If you need inspiration, take a look at what like-minded professionals write about themselves. Highlight key achievements, list specialties and skills you have, and explicitly state any goals you want to pursue.

LinkedIn Profile Guides and Resources

Contact Schtick We take the time to get to know you and optimize your LinkedIn profile. Connect with us and get noticed.

LinkedIn Help Center provides  support for whatever stage you are at in the profile building process.

Wear your pants and other professional insight for the recent grad

The other day my three-year-old son stood before me donned in his spider man pajama top, no pants, and his giant Clifford book proclaiming “Ok, mommy. I’m off to work. It’s PJ day at work today!”

I giggled and asked him to show me his office. We entered his room and he pointed to the endless crew of stuffed animals on his bed,  “ Look! These are my work friends. We all sleep together. What should we have for lunch today?”

This brief insight into a toddler’s mind made me wonder how much work perceptions change when we enter the workforce. Most of us eventually learn that pants are required and sleeping with all of our friends is a bad move  (pesky social norms). In college, career services teaches fundamentals of resume writing, cover letters, job search resources, and using LinkedIn, but are recent grads really prepared for the professional world?

My experience in undergraduate career services showed me that there is such a desperate need to a) get students actually thinking about life after college and to b) teach them the bare minimum basics of how to consider career options, go after them, and ultimately get an internship and job. What often isn’t taught is the c) the “wear your pants” common sense factor of functioning in the workforce. I considered some of the cringeworthy professional faux paus I witnessed and came up with helpful tips to make sure recent grads thrive and grow in their early career.

Save the drama for your mama...and please leave her at home. When I worked in higher ed, parents called me or showed up (awkward) to career counseling appointments with their student. I heard employers tell stories about how moms and dads called to negotiate their child’s salary. I told students it’s fine for their mom to call/scream at me, but I’m not responsible for hiring them. Momterventions won’t fly in the real world. Know your worth ( and are both great resources), show proof of it in negotiations, wear your grown up pants, and get the compensation you deserve - on your own.

Work hard, play...a medium amount. Community in the workplace is important, but no one wants to be the one dancing on the table at the company Christmas party. Oftentimes socializing with coworkers outside of the office serve as golden opportunities for networking. However, one must learn the art of social moderation in the workplace. Nurse your drink. Go out after the happy hour. Stay off of social medial.

Find a mentor...but don’t be awkward about it. Convincing clients the value of networking always proves challenging. Somehow today’s recent grad freely tweets their grievances 75 times to their favorite brands, but can’t fathom asking a professional they admire for 15 minutes of time. Networking, however, remains the cornerstone of professional success throughout one’s career journey. Coffee chats go a long way even when you already have a job. Remember, no GMOs in networking. Let relationships grow organically. After a networking meeting, set Google alerts for topics that came up in conversation - from sports teams to issues in the industry. It will give you an excuse to reach out again to say hi, and also provide compelling information!

Say thank person and in writing. Just like at my son’s preschool, manners matter. I am always floored when students don’t know they need to write (or more likely, type) thank you notes after interviews. After a job is procured, formally thanking people is still a good practice. Handwritten notes (with an actual pen and paper) also go a long way. A client wrote me a really kind note after she got a job and it made my day!

Grow up...and grow a thick skin. Unfortunately, the real world isn’t actually my son’s perception of office culture. Our stuffed animal friends don’t always play nicely. When I sought a promotion at one of my first jobs, I interviewed with the president of the company. He asked how I took negative feedback. I told him that my former soccer coach used to scream and yell at me and call me the “best player for the other team” no matter what was happening on the field. He knew that I never cried or took his words personally. My coach’s poor tactics prepared me to land the promotion. The president later told me that my example gave him the confidence to deal with the pressures of working with a challenging supervisor. Hopefully you don’t attain resiliency through poor coaching tactic, but try to hear what your boss asks/tells you and not how they are delivering the message.

Overall, my son has a few years before he gets recruited by the investment banks (although with trends going how they are OCR may begin in kindergarten). We’ll have time to set his expectations. For the recent grad, it’s important to consider how professional conduct makes or breaks your early career. Resumes, cover letters, and interviewing skills are essential skills, but they won’t get you to the next level in your career.  Follow some of these common sense tips, and you’ll set yourself up on the right path.