Moms Share Their Tips For Parenting Through a Pandemic
Let's be honest: juggling personal and professional responsibilities as a mom has never been easy. But in the midst of a pandemic? There are times when it feels virtually impossible. In this new world of massive unemployment, millions working from home for the first time, virtual school, and social distancing, parenting has entered uncharted territory — What To Expect When You're Expecting certainly didn't prepare anyone for this.
With no guidebook yet written to draw upon, we turned to our most valuable resource — the women of our community.
In honor of Mother's day, we asked moms at our partner companies to share how they're parenting through the pandemic and were blown away with the response! More than 50 women shared their creative hacks for managing work, homeschooling, and childcare, including everything from, "I can't attend any meetings that last longer than Frozen 2" to splurging on a bouncy-house. But their number one tip? Be kind to yourself.
Read on for more tips and stories!
Make time for yourself.
"My number-one tip is to really find time in your calendar for yourself during quarantine to completely recharge. As working moms, we are all juggling multiple full-time jobs: Nanny, teacher, chef, and (in my case) an engineering leader. You can't sustain any of those demands unless you make time for yourself. My go-to is a daily 30-minute ride on my Peloton." Shweta Saraf, Director, Central Engineering, Packet, California
"Go to bed an hour earlier and wake up an hour earlier so you can enjoy a cup of coffee all to yourself. That's my mom time. Give yourself grace and space! That's called self care." Sidney Miller, Talent Acquisitions Lead, Packet, Arizona
"Find time for yourself - every day if possible. Yes, this needs to be first. As moms, we often put ourselves way back in the list of priorities. But if you don't find time for yourself, no one will. Do something that sparks joy….exercise, knitting, baking, whatever! Every person is different. My joy today was sweating my butt off on the bike, yesterday it was working outside in the yard." Melanie Buckler, Senior Talent Acquisition Consultant – Americas, CSL, Pennsylvania
"So, what helped me regain sanity [somewhat] was taking a day off work to regain my composure and think about a new, planned approach. I realized that if I could be calm, and more intentional about the day, it would give my daughter the best chance of doing the same."- Katrina Thomas-Dycus, Sr. Manager of Employee Relations, Intuitive, Sunnyvale, CA
Embrace support from your team.
Jalpa Trivedi (MongoDB) and her son
"One thing I would like to call out is the full support I've received from my team and manager, along with the ability to work flexible hours. That is a huge contributing factor in my current success in work and personal life balance." Jalpa Trivedi, Senior Software Engineer, MongoDB, New York
"Working at CSL requires flexibility in schedules to meet the demands of varying geographies and time zones. Our leaders understand that we have personal obligations outside of the workplace and are understanding when flexibility is needed for schooling, doctor appointments, and other obligations." Tracey Lambalot, Director, Global Talent Acquisition, CSL, Florida
"I've found it easier to recover from 'meeting' interruptions than 'independent work' interruptions. If I need to think deeply about something, I'll try to find a partner to work it through with me in a meeting. If I get interrupted by my kids (which is nearly inevitable these days!), my coworker can get me back on track quickly." - Kimberly Wiederkehr, Staff Engineering Manager, Flatiron, New York
Teach your kids about the world of work — and project management!
"I have 2 amazing sons that are 11 and 14 yrs old and am the wife of a firefighter. My creative hack has been the introduction of Trello to my kids. They each have a board where we outline the school activities for the day and other items like chores and exercise. As they complete their activities, they move the cards to the done column which sends a notification to me. If they have questions during the day, they can input the questions into the Trello card and we can communicate back and forth. It has been a really good system for us and they enjoy the sense of accomplishment at the end of the day when all their cards are in DONE." - Melissa Koehler VP, Product Delivery and Chief of Staff for Technology, CNN Digital, Atlanta, GA
"I have 2 teenagers (13 and 15 years old). They pretty much handle online learning on their own, but I have a set time where I review their week's course work individually and across all subjects (I call it "weekly accomplishments") so they know Mom is still very engaged and cares about their learning." - Patty Chu, Senior Director Makers Ops, Flexport, SF
"My creative hack was to immaculate bi-weekly team meetings. This gives my teens an opportunity to present verbal progress reports, which gives them a chance to work on their public speaking. Our 'WFH Team' uses this as an opportunity to motivate improvement, ensure that all assignments are on task, and encourage enthusiasm and positivity." - Catherine Camarena, Mechanical Designer, Viasat, Duluth
"While working remotely full-time with my two-year-old daughter at home has definitely been a challenge, it has also been a way for her to begin to somewhat understand what my job is. I ordered my daughter a pretend laptop and pretend cell phone. Whenever I am taking calls or sending emails, she likes to sit next to me and pretends to work as well. The other day, she said she couldn't come on an afternoon walk with us because she had to 'take a meeting.' She used to only associate work equating to me leaving the house, and now she associates it with talking to people and helping 'moms and dads find a place to work.'" - Carly Tashjian, Recruiter, DigitalOcean, New York
Be flexible with your schedule (and yourself) and safeguard family time.
"The one thing that's really made a difference has been booking all of my meetings myself instead of having others book them. It's the only way I've been able to exercise some degree of control over my day and create the space that my family needs." - Eva Rijser, VP Global Communications, Flexport, SF"
"I put family time on my calendar and do not allow meetings during that time. My kids are a little older (7 & 10) so they are able to do most of their school work on their own." - Carrie Bryant, Global Customs Lead, Flexport, Atlanta
"With two young kids at home, it seems impossible to get anything done or even feel accomplished. What helps me navigate my 'new norm' is always finding time to step away and just be a mom. Sometimes it's playing the same board game for the 100th time or watching the same movie on repeat or even having an impromptu dance party. Making that effort allows me to feel less guilty when I need to throw on the headphones, put my head down and just focus... No matter what my day looks like or how busy I am, there is always time for some good ol' fun." - Kristine Boccio, Recruiting Operations Manager, Elastic, New York, USA. (For more WFH tips, check out Elastic's blog.)
"I have two daughters - 10 and 6.... We have found that to ease all of our anxiety, frequent cuddle breaks are like magic. I've let go of the 'Mommy's in a meeting - please don't disturb' mentality, donned my noise-canceling headphones, and shifted more into an 'open office floor plan - there's gonna be noise and interruptions' mindset. Folks are particularly empathetic right now and the stress of trying to shut out my new 'coworkers' was unnecessarily taxing. I have two 'meetings' in the day that are on my calendar and protected as fiercely as if they were meetings with our CEO. Having that structured time to sit with the girls and review their work, as well as cuddle them fiercely - has been a lifesaver." - Marcela Pineros, VP Global Enablement, New Relic, San Francisco
Project Manager Yessica Imm with her partner and children, ages six, eight, and 10
"I've worked with my manager to coordinate alternate working hours, breaking my day into 'micro-blocks' that allow me to function effectively in both my roles as a Procorian and parent. I divide my work into blocks (7:00 - 9:00 am, 11:00-2:00pm, 3:00-5:00pm, 7:00-8:30pm) and use the other blocks to prioritize family, exercise, and of course, me time!" - Yessica Imm, Localization Project Manager, Procore, Austin, TX
"My one tip I give to friends and family experiencing the WFH+kids life for the first time is to have patience and be flexible because no two days are going to look the same. Even at 18 months, our kids know how to communicate what they need. Having the patience to listen, understand, and respond accordingly will make rough days a lot smoother. Penelope's favorite time of the day is my 'family time' break around lunchtime. We go on a walk, cook lunch, she helps me unload the dishwasher, or switch the laundry, and we do a craft or run around in the backyard. It's amazing how completely disconnecting for an hour or so and focusing completely on your kiddo can reset any prior feelings of stress or overwhelm either of us had (oh, and that post-family time, midday nap she takes is a win, too!)." - Alexis Florian, Recruiting Coordinator, Elastic, California
"My husband is a realtor who can't work much due to social distancing, so he's been handling most of the childcare while I work. That said, the guilt load from being home with my kids and not being with them is huge. To help with that, I try to set aside time every day to eat lunch with my two kids and then put them down for naps. I also guard the hours between 5 and 7 with my life - that is my family's time. When I'm with my family, I'm not touching anything work-related. Having these intentional blocks for dedicated family time makes a big difference." - Rachael Harnish, Director of Operations, Shogun, Harrisonburg, Virginia
"Know yourself. Be reasonable. Being flexible with myself goes a long way. If my work is done, sometimes I'll switch off an hour early to make the kids dinner. It's about balance." - Katie, Audible
"One thing that's working for me while working from home and managing my 2-year-old is being creative with our daily schedule. I prioritize certain work tasks I need to get through during typical work hours and tackle the not so urgent tasks later in the day. I take many breaks during the day to be present in playing and learning activities. My husband is also a big help in keeping her busy when I need to get work done. We set aside time each day for a fun activity from arts and crafts to pool time. It's not always easy to balance between work and family time, but it's so worth it." - Clarencia Taylor, Accounting and Reporting Advisory Senior, Deloitte & Touche LLP, Houston, TX
"When all of this started, I quickly made a schedule for my kids to follow during the day. At first, it went great, but after about 2 weeks it became hard for me and my husband to keep up with. We actually learned that allowing the day to flow naturally made all of us happier and more productive. My son – who is in 2nd grade – has weekly homework that he has to turn in. So everyday we tackle a little piece of it, and depending on the subject and who has time, my husband and I take turns helping. Our strategy is to simplify. Giving ourselves grace during this period of time is important because we can't do it all and we don't have to either." - Siobhan Burch, Senior Software Engineer, Expedia Group, Austin, TX
Take advantage of naptime
"I am fortunate to have a toddler who naps a lot. I use this time to schedule as many calls as I can and get as much done as possible. There have been several occasions where meetings were scheduled while she is awake. During this time, I set her up with all her favorite toys in our living room and I am on the other side of the room on my call." - Zainab Tohfafarosh, Manager, TA Operations, Priceline, Norwalk, CT
"I'm gonna be honest - nap time is my happy hour. It's not easy to work from home and actually get things done. But I'll admit, in the fourteen years I've been working exclusively from home, the words 'I miss working in an office' have never once left my mouth. Ditching the cubicle life was one of the best decisions I've ever made. I find that I'm far more productive in my job, but with two small children now at home with me full-time, I'm finding it beyond difficult to get things done. Getting both of my children to their rooms or 'quiet space' to sleep, read, (hello Mr. ABC Mouse!) is my saving grace. And if you find yourself taking a 20 minute power nap yourself, because frankly #parentinginapandemic is exhausting - well, you do what you gotta do." - Cami Lewis, Security Community Advocate, Elastic, Colorado
"One of the best solutions we've come up with is to try to do as much as possible while the 2 year old is napping. This includes meetings, work that needs focus, and homeschooling our five year old. It's taking 'sleep when the baby sleeps' to a new level. " - Marissa DeVito, Head of Music Marketing SoundCloud, NYC
"Two things I have started doing that have helped me is to book meetings while your kids are napping! My baby, Henry, likes to nap from 12-2 pm, so I try to schedule my important meetings during that time so i'm not interrupted. The second tip I recommend is always wake up in the morning before your little one does. That gives you time to shower, do your hair, and put on some makeup. If you feel good, your day just naturally goes better!" Samantha Licata, Service Delivery, Manager, Packet, New York
Lauren Schaefer (MongoDB) shares her thoughts about boundaries
"Shut down your computer and turn off your phone notifications when you are done working for the day. Boundaries are super important to ensure you don't burn out. You are valuable to your company. They have invested a lot of resources into making you a productive employee. They do not want you to burn out and quit. When your working day is done, shut down your computer, turn off your phone, and mentally check out. Seriously." - Lauren Schaefer, Developer Advocate - DevRel Content Team, MongoDB, Pennsylvania
"Do your dedicated work time out of sight. When one of us is in our 'dedicated work' time, we tuck away to our bedroom where we've set up an office and close the door. For our 15 month old, it's too distracting to see us (and a screen) and not be able to interact with us (or it). Also, to further minimize distractions for our child, my partner and I primarily text one another to communicate so that we don't keep coming in and out of the room." - Cecilia Lum, Senior Product Manager, Flatiron New York City
"I started making my schedule available to my son and my spouse. We began printing it from Outlook but have since gone green and posted it to our family Google Drive. Purple calendar entries are 'do not disturb Mom and go stalk another grown up to be part of your Ancient Rome Video.'" - Michelle Lemasters, Director of Business Technology, Quality, BT Operational Excellence, CSL, Pennsylvania
Find creative forms of entertainment — and give yourself a free pass on any associated mom guilt!
Jennifer Cullem's son crafting while she gets some work done
"My five-year-old is a dyed-in-the-wool extrovert so getting him to do anything solo is a challenge. However, I've come up with two activities lately that have magically been able to suck him in for anywhere from 30 - 45 minutes. I bought some burlap, yarn, beads, bells, and embroidery hoops and taught him that he can 'draw' with the thread. Many, many T-Rexes have been crafted from this to his delight. I also bought one of those Melissa & Doug kid looms and he spent a solid 45 minutes (after the first few minutes of set-up help from us) weaving his own yarn coaster. I don't know what it is, maybe the soothing magic of repetitive motion, but it buys me time for a workout or a meeting." - Jennifer Cullem, Head of R&D for Soundbetter, Spotify, NY
"Since we cannot go to the playground anymore, I turned our small patio into a playground for my 3-year-old: buying a swing was a great investment, and she entertains herself with lots of chalk painting, hopscotch and bubble making. It helps that I can see the patio from where I'm working" - Kat Liger, Software Engineer, Helix, San Francisco, CA
"Other than the two hours of homework time before lunch on a laptop, the best strategy for us is having both kids (8 and 4 years) take some quiet play time of at least two hours post-lunch and one hour of TV time. During this time, the rules are to play with each other without coming to us unless there is a big fight." - Shuchi Jain, Business Systems Analyst, Viasat, Carlsbad
"Plan screen time around your meeting schedule, and try to keep both to a daily minimum, or as I told a colleague earlier this week: 'we can have a working session, but it can't be longer than Frozen 2.' This might mean shifting discussions to another channel, such as Microsoft Teams, where collaboration can happen on a more flexible schedule. Also, try condensing meeting times and sending detailed agendas/review materials ahead of time so that time together is more productive and action-oriented." - Meghan O'Brien, People Agile Senior Consultant, S&P Global, Salem, VA
"We found that we have to be very intentional with our time and try to get as much outdoor activity each day which really helps with the toddlers. We also got a bounce house in our bonus room that takes up the whole room. That was the best $150 I've ever spent!" - Emily Hunter, Senior Advisor, Talent Acquisition, Dell Technologies, Nashville, TN (For more great tips from Emily, click here!)
"We've been doing our best to be creative with our play and with our space. Living in NYC sized apartments with no yard proves to be a challenge but we've made it work. We are fortunate to have a car so we have extended our play space to the car! Lenox loves to pretend to drive and play with all of the buttons. Sometimes we get an hour out of this! Another thing we've been doing is going on a 'hunt' for items in the apartment. We will point to something in the book and Lenox will find the object in our home and bring it back to us." - Meghan Timpf, Executive Assistant To Chief Executive Officer, Teachers Pay Teachers, NYC
"Shaving cream in the shower! Buys you a 30 minute window for 1.99! I can take a conference call sitting outside of the stall." - Erin Merkel, Director of Implementation, Flexport, San Francisco, CA
"This month my son joined me in volunteering at our local food bank by bagging and distributing groceries to our community. We all adhered to the social distancing and face masks guidelines, but what stood out the most was how beautiful a day it was and all the extra hands we had. After a day of volunteering, my son asked he asked if we could come back for the month of May!" - Morsie Murphy, Client Service Representative, Autodesk, San Francisco, CA
Find the routine that works for you.
"Our family has had to get very creative during these unprecedented times. Trying to manage a full-time job, homeschooling, and keeping my daughters entertained has been a challenge but we are finally figuring out our routine. I have found that a well-planned schedule every day for the kids has allowed them to stay on track while I work. I have also adjusted my schedule to wake up early while the house is still quiet to knock out some work." - Erin Lovern, Director, Global Talent, CloudBees, Virginia
"What's working for us during this time is a schedule that I have set with my kids. They set their alarms, get up, get dressed, make their beds and eat breakfast just as they did when they were going to school (although they do get to sleep in until 7:30). They have a daily schedule they follow that is hanging up in our school room (aka dining room) so they can see and follow it daily. It allows for them to be occupied with their school work and my husband and I to work also."- Angie Kelly, Talent Acquisition, Raytheon Technologies, Texas
"Plan, Plan, Plan and keep the routine going!" - Amanda Taveau, University Programs Recruiting Manager, Raytheon Technologies, Texas
"One strategy that has worked for me is to start every day with a positive frame of mind. No matter what we do, morning routines set the standard. For example, a healthy breakfast, some light yoga, and a glass of water. Once we get the basics down, it's time to build on them. This helps keep sanity in the home. If things aren't right at home, they can't be right at work." - Meenakshi Mishra, Senior Project Manager, StockX, Detroit, MI
Plan ahead as a family.
"Every evening we plan for the next day and add online school meetings to the kids' planner. Teaching the children to be proficient with their digital platforms (Seesaw, Google Classroom, Khan Academy etc.), enables them to be self-sufficient." - Movi Banerjee, Director, Head of Enterprise Architecture, Enterprise Infrastructure & Operations, CSL, Pennsylvania
"The one thing that [my partner] and I have found to really work well is post-bedtime, we review our schedules for the next day to split out our coverage. It's way easier for us to know the times where we can/can't 'work' while on baby duty and it helps both of us focus during the time when the other is 'off' (though we're never off, are we?)." - Mom from Guru (Click here for more tips from the Guru team!)
"After the 1st week, we made a schedule and try to stick to it (with exceptions for meetings that can't be moved). When my husband is watching her in the mornings, I try to really focus on work and not butt in even if I can hear Ada fussing from the other room! At the end of the day, this has probably been a good exercise for me in learning to let go and prioritize." - Alexa Rhoads, Lead Product Manager, Autodesk, San Francisco
"The best way that I am able to manage is to coordinate schedules with my partner when it comes to childcare. To keep ourselves sane, we will sync our schedules the night before so we can tag-team and ensure that our toddler has someone available to interact with. ...If we do happen to [have meetings at the same time] and can't control the schedule, we will resort to the best parent in our household, also known as the television." - Holly Lee, Software Development Engineer II, Expedia Group, Seattle
Don't be afraid to lean on family/friends for support – even if it's virtual!
Danielle Lemon's daughter sharing videos with family
"Knowing that everyone has something that they can learn from someone, we have asked family members to teach [our daughter] things via FaceTime in their spare time. This has ranged from Yoruba lessons, cooking, braiding, to reading together. Family members have also asked my daughter to teach them things she knows, which have reinforced her learning and understanding!" Danielle Lemon, Inclusion and Diversity Coordinator, Conde Nast
"My mother is a former educator. As a single mom, I can't manage work and educating two kids in elementary school at the same time. For two hours a day, my mother and father get on a Zoom call and educate my children virtually. This includes buddy reading, playing math games, learning drafting (technical drawings), etc. The best part, my parents are getting a chance to showcase their skillset and wisdom and my kids have the time to devour it. At the same time, I can count on those two hours to be able to hold meetings without interruption, which is critical to the progress of my work." - Crystal Morey, UX Researcher, Smartsheet, Bellevue, Washington
"Back when my son was a newborn, I would often do work on my phone while he nursed. Now that he's older and has a more regular sleep schedule, I take advantage of hours I know he'll be asleep, both naps during the day, and the evenings, to get my work done. I'm also lucky enough to have the ultimate hack: the help of others. My mom watches my son for a few hours every day so that I can get work done. And ultimately, I have a supportive and involved partner who understands that sometimes I need to put my nose to the grindstone and he takes charge of our son." Vera Wells, Backend Engineer, DuckDuckGo, Pennsylvania
"My hack is also in the realm of getting help from others. My mother-in-law has a tight relationship with my 3-year-old son and has been on FaceTime 'babysitting' him while I'm in meetings. She goes all out with stories, questions, stuffed animals, props, whatever, to keep him engaged. It's not perfect, but it's a nice perk when I'm in a jam." Diana Chiu, Sr. Manager, Business Development, DuckDuckGo, Vancouver, Canada
Change how you take your meetings.
"I have discovered there are options to be productive without the need of being in front of a laptop: walking meetings and taking meetings with wireless headphones. I do a lot of walking meetings with my daughter Tori. I put her into a stroller and we go for a walk while I join my meeting. This works well for us as we both get fresh air and I get physical activity."Anne Michels, Director of Product Marketing, Microsoft Teams, Microsoft, Washington
"My daughter is 10 months old, and I haven't found many hacks yet. I honestly have been trying to enjoy this time with her. If I have a low-key zoom meeting where I don't need to take notes, I have her join and everyone loves it! I have also been working at odd times, waking up at 4/5am and working for 3 hours, then napping for an hour. This way I don't feel too stressed about things during the day. I love taking naps with her, it helps me recharge especially when I get up early." Stephanie Lajoie Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging Program Manager, CarGurus, Boston, MA
Use your closed door to communicate.
Tess Dixon's (Conde Nast) special mailbox for her daughter
"My 6-year-old often wants to come and knock on my office door and interrupt me 53 times a day when she thinks of some little thing she wants to tell me, or when she just wants to say hi. My partner helped my daughter make this little 'mailbox' out of card stock and stick it to my office door so that she can color me a picture or write me a note and 'deliver' it to me that way. I check the mailbox periodically when I'm between meetings, and I think it's brightened both our days." Tess Dixon, Design Manager, Conde Nast, Richmond, VA.
"I have set up a piece of a cardboard box that states 'please wait until I am off the phone' in front of the office door. When my daughter sees this, she knows she has to wait before she can interrupt. I tried implementing this for when I am on conducting candidate interviews." Melany Austin, Talent Acquisition Manager, StockX, Detroit, MI
Embrace the occasional bribe.
"I try to find different ways to motivate each of my kids. My one daughter doesn't like reading, so I started to pay her if she reads certain pages by the end of the week. Now she's already finished a few books since the quarantine started! Before quarantine, I didn't allow my kids to watch TV on weekdays. Now, if they finish their work and they don't fight, they can watch TV after 6pm," - Tihut Haven, Global Benefits Analyst, Flexport, SF
Make technology your friend – not your enemy!
"I use Alexa to set timers to alternate between screen time and not. Now my 5-year-old understands how to set the timer himself and he follows it!" - May Chu, Global Operations Manager, Flexport, LA
Above all, be kind to yourself. YOU ARE DOING YOUR BEST!
"Don't forget to pat yourself on the back — balancing children and a full-time job is beyond difficult. Treat yourself with your favorite meal occasionally." Siva Ravali Dhanekula, Development Manager, Priceline, NYC
"At the end of the day (which is often sometime in the late evening), I know I'm providing as much effort as I can for both our child and Teachers Pay Teachers.... Our mission of unlocking the collective wisdom of teachers is more important than ever, and I couldn't be more grateful to be part of that effort — before, during, and after this storm passes. Until then, continue to maintain social distance, wash your hands frequently, and remember to go easy on yourself — you're doing what you can, and that has to be enough!" - Maria Victoria, Project Manager, Teachers Pay Teachers, NYC
What creative hacks are helping you get through this unprecedented time? Let us know in the comments... And Happy Mother's Day!
According to a recent study, anti-Asian hate crimes have risen 150% since the pandemic started. But these acts of violence are not new — they are part of a much larger history of anti-Asian racism and violence in the U.S.
That makes celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (which was named a month-long celebration in May by Congress in 1992 "to coincide with two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants on May 7, 1843 and contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad, completed May 10, 1869") this year all the more important.
As we reflect on recent events and how they fit into a much larger history of discrimination, we're also taking time to celebrate and acknowledge the many achievements of the AAPI community.
We asked several of our partner companies what they're doing to honor AAPI Heritage Month at work, and we were inspired by the range of responses, covering everything from campaigns to #StopAsianHate to educational events on AAPI history.
Here's what they're doing, in their own words:
Empowering authenticity - LogMeIn
"Our theme this year is AIM to Be Real. We are embracing our new company values and celebrating those who bring their authentic selves to work, who help create space to celebrate diversity of thought, and who give back to the API community. Our Asian ERG, Asians in Motion (AIM), is hosting several events: a discussion about bringing your authentic self to work with Jerry Won (Dear Asian Americans podcast); a refugee-led virtual cooking class; ERG Movie Club discussions featuring Bollywood films, and a virtual volunteer event where we will offer career development mentoring for young women across Asia."
Learn more about LogMeIn here.
Educating on current events — Raytheon Technologies
"Raytheon Technologies is honoring Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with an enterprise-wide global town hall event – Real Talk: Building CommUNITY Together. Organized by the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) employee resource groups across the company, employees will share their personal experiences and discuss ways to support Asian American Pacific Islander communities. The event will also feature prominent leading advocates from renowned civil rights organizations to provide insight into the national context surrounding recent events. We will also feature AAPI employees internally and on our social media channels."
Learn more about Raytheon Technologies here.
Encouraging awareness, growth, and learning — Moody's
"Moody's is encouraging awareness, growth, and learning during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with the following activities, led by our Multicultural Business Resource Group and DE&I team:
- Weekly newsletters featuring AAPI employee profiles and cultural resources
- Video screening and small-group discussions supporting #StopAsianHate
- Cultural panel discussion featuring employee stories
- Professional development activities
- External speakers speaking about Asian leadership"
Supporting professional development — Freddie Mac
"Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month at Freddie Mac – Together, We Are Stronger
Freddie Mac supports the professional development of Asian and Pacific Islander employees while promoting an increased awareness of the value they bring to the organization and our local communities. Our InspirASIAN Business Resource Group is hosting various activities throughout the month such as:
- Personal development session on empowerment led by a coach from our Employee Assistance Program.
- "Stop Asian Hate" lunch and learn geared toward discussing the hurdles facing the AAPI community.
- Fireside chat about racial injustice with leaders from our InspirASIAN and ARISE (employees of the African diaspora) BRGs."
Fostering inclusion, learning, and belonging – Nestlé USA
"At Nestlé USA, the Pan Asian Network (PAN), one of our many employee resource groups that support our Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion initiatives, will host a variety of events to honor and acknowledge Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. These activities will foster greater inclusion, enhanced learning, and belonging for the AAPI community. PAN will highlight women's development in Asian cultures, Asian leadership and what their culture means to them, culinary innovation of Asian cuisine, intersectionality of LGBTQ+ and Pan Asian community, as well as an enhanced learning watch party of the PBS movie 'Asian American.'"
Learn more about Nestlé USA here.
Promoting cultural literacy – Relativity
The Community Resource Group at Relativity
"For Relativity, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is an opportune time to not only celebrate the rich AAPI cultures represented within our company, but to also foster awareness and allyship amidst the current rise of AAPI hate. RelAsians, our internal community resource group, has organized a few activities for May: a book club focused on AAPI heritage—because we feel it's never too early to gain cultural literacy, a weekly spotlight on AAPI Relativians, and a virtual event that takes attendees on a tour through an Asian grocery store, introducing native vegetables and staple ingredients for traditional home-cooked Asian recipes."
- Contribution from Neha Pant, Sr. Performance Engineer & Angie Ocasek, Sr. Specialist, Partner Enablement – Co-Chairs of the RelAsians Community Resource Group at Relativity
Learn more about Relativity here.
Creating transformative experiences – Facebook
"At Facebook, our APIs employee resource group's mission is to create transformative experiences for all APIs at Facebook, Inc through key cultural awareness and engagement highlighting the API community. To kick off APIHM, we will host a series of events and conversations for the community and its allies designed to support the API community around the theme, The SUM of Us, including:
- Letting Others In: a mindful discussion series that privileges intersectional voices, storytelling, feedback, and vulnerability as tools for building empathy and inclusion amongst organizations.
- Racial Healing Learning Session: specific to the API Experience focused on naming of experiences and emotional responses, understanding the body's responses to racial trauma, what the audience can do in the moment for self-care, and long-term strategies to overcome the effect of the traumatic experience.
- Bystander Training/self Defense Workshop"
Learn more about Facebook here.
Extensive and exciting programming — 2U
"At 2U, Inc. we'll be honoring Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with extensive and exciting programming coordinated by our employee-led Asian Pacific Islander Network (APIN). In a year marred by exceptional challenges APIN has centered activities around the ameliorating themes of joy, culture and wellness. Be it delighting in a ukulele mini concert, reading an interview highlighting an API coworker, winding down after too much screen time with a somatic healing session or engaging in a panel discussion with API tattoo artists, we have a packed month ahead with opportunities to support oneself and the API culture! Follow along @Lifeat2U on Instagram for more!"
Learn more about 2U here.
Amplifying voices and educating others – Smartsheet
"During APAHM, the API at Smartsheet community will be hosting several events and activities to educate others, amplify AAPI voices, and celebrate the AAPI community! We plan to kick off the month with a documentary viewing and discussion to learn about AAPI history, and hope to share personal stories from our AAPI employees throughout the month. We'll end with an opportunity for the community to celebrate itself by gathering together for fun and games, while eating food from local Asian-owned restaurants."
Learn more about Smartsheet here.
Rising together in sports and culture – NBA
"For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, APEX is proud to present a multitude of celebratory activities, headlined by an NBA Family Virtual Town Hall and, with the NFL and MLB, an Asians in Sports & Culture Symposium themed "Together We Rise" featuring prominent Asian personalities from the sports world. We are also launching a PSA with an NBA star, honoring Eid-al-Fitr at the end of Ramadan, offering a bystander intervention training led by AAJC, and – because the celebration wouldn't be complete without food – hosting a sushi making class for our members."
Learn more about the NBA here.
Creating courageous conversations – Commvault
"This May, we are celebrating all our Asian/Pacific Islander employees, not just Asian Americans. We will spend the month learning about and celebrating the diverse cultures of Asia through weekly events and activities led by our Multi-Culture ERG. Vaulters and external guests will teach us the history of practices such as yoga, origami, and Asian cuisines. We will also discuss topics like the rise of hate crimes against Asian people and the recent spike in COVID-19 in India. These activities and courageous conversations will engage our workforce and create support for our Asian and Pacific Islander communities around the world."
Learn more about Commvault here.
Honoring history through virtual events – Collins Aerospace
"Collins Aerospace supports our AAPI colleagues not only in May, but all year. Our parent company Raytheon Technologies hosted a virtual Town Hall last month to provide a safe space for open dialogue about recent events targeting Asian Americans in the U.S. In addition to this entity-wide event, our Asia Pacific ERG at Collins is hosting events that educate and honor the importance of Asian Pacific American history such as virtual Lunch & Tours spotlighting South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, and India; and Thoughts & Support sessions. Site-specific events include virtual cooking class, and viewing PBS docuseries Asian Americans."
Learn more about Collins Aerospace here.
Highlighting new perspectives – MongoDB
"MongoDB will share daily historical facts, highlights of Asian American pioneers, and perspectives from our AAPI employees in a dedicated Slack channel. We will also be providing access to an Asian Pacific American Heritage Month webinar, organizing a trivia night, and holding Processing Together sessions for our internal AAPI community due to recent hate crimes happening across the globe. These sessions are a safe space for employees to share their stories and sentiments of what it is like as an Asian American in America today. (Read MongoDB employee Monica Lu's story about being an Asian American woman in tech here.)"
Learn more about MongoDB here.
Spotlighting diverse communities – Bumble
"At Bumble, moments like heritage month celebrations are often our anchor to ensure we are spotlighting diverse communities. In alignment with AAPI Heritage Month in May, Bumble is rolling out a series of thoughtful programming to encourage internal education and around how to support the Stop Asian Hate movement and better serve the Asian community globally. The lineup of initiatives include:
- BuzzWord DEI Discussion Series with featured guest speakers: This conversation will focus on the Asian community within the context of larger cultural issues such as dating app experiences, fetishization, masculinity, and representation.
- Bumble will be inviting employees to join a virtual Vietnamese coffee-making class. Created in partnership with Phin Bar, an urban brew-bar that offers Vietnamese-style steeped coffee combined with house-made ingredients, Bumble hopes to facilitate a deeper cultural learning and community bonding experience for the team.
- Bumble will also be activating channels across social media and our product to educate our community about bystander intervention and raise awareness around the importance of supporting the Stop Asian Hate movement."
Engaging in daring conversations – Procore
"In celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month in May, Procore recently organized an internal event to recognize and support the AAPI community. The event was hosted as part of our ongoing internal speaker series, 'Daring Conversations & Allyship,' to create space for an open dialogue around diversity, inclusion, and belonging. All employees were invited to tune in as employees from our AAPI communities shared their unique experiences, addressed anti-Asian hate, and discussed actionable ways to support our AAPI community."
Learn more about Procore here.
Taking action to foster change – SeatGeek
"This month the POC ERG will be meeting and hosting different activities to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. This includes creating a safe space to discuss current events, and what actions our communities can take to foster change, sending out a newsletter which will highlight the Asian community in every aspect, and lastly, we will be hosting a guest speaker.
We hope with these planned activities and meetings, we can highlight, and uplift the Asian/Pacific American community, as well as bring awareness to the horrible ongoing attacks they are facing."
Learn more about SeatGeek here.
Uplifting and inspiring the community – Okta
"Okta's People of Color (POC@Okta) ERG is planning to commemorate AAPI Month with a series of fireside chats and iconographical facts posted internally in the #poc and #all diversity Slack channels! These chats will feature Dion Lim of ABC7 News and Comedian/Actor, Ronny Chieng. We will conclude the series with a partnership with Pride@Okta featuring supermodel, TED speaker, and transgender advocate Geena Rocero. The goal of this series is to educate, uplift, support, and inspire! The Okta leadership supports its AAPI employees, customers, and community."
Learn more about Okta here.
Empowering cultural diversity and leadership – Quip
"Salesforce will be celebrating through multiple virtual events, such as a leadership panel on the power of cultural diversity, a tea tasting, a tai chi class, a haka workshop, and more! Members of the Quip team have also compiled an extensive list of resources to support AAPI communities, including ways to donate, take action, and learn more."
Learn more about Quip here.
Focusing on lived experiences – Mindbody
"The Mindbody United ERG focuses on a different heritage or history each month, with May devoted to Asian & Pacific Islander Heritage Month. This ERG seeks to provide a platform to both celebrate and learn together. This will manifest in two ways: As a newsletter and a Zoom meeting. The newsletter will feature contributions directly from team members, while the meeting will feature Assembly member Evan Low as our speaker. It is our goal to focus on the lived experiences of the AAPI community, address discrimination, and how to chase after the part of the world we can make better."
Learn more about Mindbody here.
Promoting harmony and unity – T. Rowe Price
"T. Rowe Price is aware and appalled at the recent spike in hate crimes against the Asian community. In response, the firm will center Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month efforts around harmony and unity, in alignment with the Hawaiian value, Lōkahi – Forward as One. To share best practices, successes and areas of opportunities, T. Rowe Price will co-host a Leadership Panel on Asian Leadership Challenges with Baltimore Asian Connect, a consortium of Asian business resource group leaders at local corporations. The firm will also host a book club and restorative listening circles for Asian American associates and their allies."
Learn more about T. Rowe Price here.
Celebrating Asians globally
"May is Asian Pacific American (APA) Heritage Month. Although traditionally a US celebration, at Autodesk we are celebrating Asians globally. The Autodesk Asian Network is hosting Innovative Leaders, including Lori Mukoyama and Jonathan Zee. Lori Mukoyama is redefining experience-driven design globally at Gensler. Jonathan Zee has an extensive portfolio of buildings that are helping to shape cities around the world at Goettsch Partners. Lori and her husband Jonathan combine design, architecture and engineering in their work while simultaneously manage a family together during this pandemic. This event is hosted by AAN, as part of a monthlong series of APA Heritage Month events."
Learn more about AutoDesk here.
Tips from SeatGeek's Anuja Chavan
When Anuja Chaven turns on a fan in her house in Jersey City, she can't help but think about how every piece of it works.
"There are an extensive amount of things that have to go perfectly at the same time," says the former engineer (and current product manager at live event ticketing platform SeatGeek).
It was that interest in understanding how things actually worked that drove Anuja to study engineering—first electrical, during her undergrad in India, and then computer science, during her master's program in the U.S.
"I was always intrigued by the fact that with [software], you don't have to have a hundred people, or invest in a bunch of hardware that is costly, [but] you can still get things done and create things," she says.
We sat down with Anuja to hear more about her career, from her start as an engineer working in the banking sector to her current role as a PM at a fast-growing startup. She unpacked what it's been like to jump from the super-analytical side of things to the product management side—and gave us her best tips for PMs looking to connect with their teams (and vice versa!). Read on for her hard-earned wisdom.
From engineer to product management: the best of both worlds
Anuja's first job in tech was as a software engineer at a big bank, where she worked on solving technical problems and dealing with all of the bureaucratic red tape that came along with creating high risk tools while working in the securities lending department.
Four years and a couple of promotions in, she realized that her favorite part of any given project was the beginning, when she was scoping requirements. "I liked working to understand the business needs much more than I actually enjoyed developing technical solutions," she says.
When Anuja shared that realization with her friends in tech, they helped her see that product management might be the perfect fit for her, with its mix of analytical thinking and user focus. She took a ten-week PM course, but then faced the age-old chicken-and-egg problem when it comes to switching jobs or industries: how to get the experience needed for the jobs she wanted when all of the jobs she was seeing required that she already had experience?
A friend of Anuja's invited her to a SeatGeek event PowerToFly was hosting in New York City. Anuja went, loved the panel presentation (where SeatGeek engineers showed what they were really working on—a far cry from the closed-door siloed projects Anuja had come across in banking!), and hit it off with the recruiter. She applied for a PM role, was interviewed by a slate of people she was impressed by (including SeatGeek's CEO and CTO!), and accepted the offer when it came.
"The people I met were very, very smart, and it was such an inviting experience," she says. Now, after such a trying year, Anuja has become even more impressed by SeatGeek's culture: "They're so open about global awareness, about how you should treat employees, how employees should treat each other. They're walking the talk. It's not something that's put out and forgotten about; they're constantly working to empower and uplift those who identify with underrepresented groups." (You can learn more about this work here.)
Now, a few years into being a full-fledged product manager, Anuja is grateful for having started her career in engineering.
"Coming from that background fosters that mutual understanding of how things work. You speak the engineers' language," explains Anuja.
And that's just the beginning of the synergies.
5 things PMs should do when working with engineers
When Anuja asks her engineering team to add a new feature to a product, she knows that she's actually asking them to do a specific amount of technical work, which comes with tradeoffs and costs.
Her goal, then, is to help them understand why that work is important and let them know that she recognizes the effort required to do it well. And she does all of that in the 2-3 hours per day that she spends with her team in real-time, since most of SeatGeek's enterprise engineers (SeatGeek's business is broken down into two major units: their secondary marketplace and their enterprise business, where Anuja works, in which they build and sell a box office solution directly to clients like sports teams, venues, and theaters) are based in Israel and only overlap briefly with New York working hours.
Here are some other things Anuja does to create trust and respect between her and her team:
1. Keep engineers shielded from noise, not strategy.
Anuja spends a lot of time—up to 50-60% of her workweek, she says—in meetings. That's okay: it's her job to interface with the finance, marketing, and client experience teams that her engineering team's work serves, and meetings are part of that. Her team, however, doesn't need to have their days eaten up by endless syncs.
But that doesn't mean that Anuja keeps them firewalled away from the rest of the business. Just the reverse, in fact—she makes sure to plan several touchpoints where her engineers can get a good sense of the business strategy behind their workstreams. "You're not discussing just features, you're discussing why that feature," explains Anuja of the holistic meetings between various project stakeholders and engineers.
She also does regular stepbacks on the business's larger 3-, 6-, 9-, and 12-month roadmaps so that engineers' voices can be heard in the business planning process. "There are things that product may not be best positioned to foresee that engineering brings up, like scalability and system stability limitations," she says of their value-add. "Getting engineers involved early in the game doesn't hamper your progress but rather aids with them being in your story with you."
2. Use technical understanding to predict problems.
"There's this weird theory— a joke, really—of PMs being the dumbest person in a room full of experts, but I don't see that as being true, since you've got to ask the right questions at the right time to drive conversations between those experts," says Anuja. Not all PMs will have been former engineers, she recognizes, but a few technical skills go a long way. "Knowing the impact one team can cause on the other comes from engineer thinking abilities about problem solving, understanding issues before they actually become issues," she says. "Having that grasp on fundamentals lets you see prioritization problems quickly."
And beyond that, Anuja has had success leaning on her engineering background to build a relationship with her engineers of mutual affinity. "Having technical understanding in your back pocket creates overall trust from the engineer's perspective that you'll do what's right when push comes to shove," she says:
3. Unstick problems with other PMs before they impact engineers.
With 450 employees spread across consumer and enterprise teams, there are plenty of other PMs for Anuja to stay in touch with, and she prioritizes doing so a couple of times a week to discuss problems, talk blue-sky new ideas, and help coordinate workstreams before issues arise. "We have to be up to speed with what's going on in their world," explains Anuja. "If there's a need for something on a different team, it's helpful to be aware of it, whether you aid, assist with resolving blockers, or just stay informed."
4. Communicate visually.
"As a PM, communication is one of the best tools at your disposal," explains Anuja. "What most people may not realize is that visual communication has a much more profound impact on how strongly you can communicate to a broad, skill-set varied group of stakeholders, especially as a Product Manager."
Anuja uses systems diagrams, object diagrams, and component diagrams, among other forms of visual communication, to help get her team in sync. "Having some sort of pictorial representation of what's being discussed helps people make sure they're talking about the same thing, looking at the same vision," she says.
5. Ask engineers what their preferred choice of interruption is.
There are always going to be different types of engineers. Some may not appreciate interruptions with constant pings and Slack chats, while others might prefer real-time updates instead of having to wait for a scheduled call. "What I've been doing with my teams is just being open to asking them, 'What [interruptions] are you comfortable with? What are times that you're comfortable with?'" she says.
2 ways for engineers to collaborate better with their PMs
If the above section didn't apply because you're on the engineering side of the equation, don't worry—Anuja has advice for you, too!
1. Think of the big picture, and communicate that you understand it.
"It gives a product manager a lot of confidence if an engineer can think holistically," says Anuja. "When given a problem, try to ask about the edge case scenarios, the exceptions—that will get you into deeper discussions about how those things work."
Another great way to show that you're following is to repeat the requirement and confirm your understanding in engineering terms. "There are some tactical things you can do to improve your communication, and that's one of them," says Anuja.
2. Be open to explaining engineering concepts to your PMs.
"Don't assume your PM will never be interested in deeper details," explains Anuja, who suggests unpacking problems slowly so that both parties can be better informed the next time an issue crops up.
When it works, it really works
A few months ago, Anuja was working on one of SeatGeek's biggest projects to date: supporting the launch of schedule releases for several high-performing NFL teams. The project required that people across the entire global organization worked together to make the experience absolutely seamless so that fans could buy tickets, and so that our clients could achieve their desired revenue and fan experience goals.
"It was completely flawless—groundbreaking!" says Anuja. "Being able to see so many different streams work together and function properly was really fulfilling."
3 Pieces of Advice from Working Moms at Pluralsight
Being fully committed to work and family is a challenge that many working parents have to take on. It can be exhausting and thankless pursuing a fulfilling full-time career, while taking an active role as a parent. Achieving a healthy balance can help keep you motivated and productive at work, while allowing you to be fully present when you're home.
We recently chatted with working moms at technology skills platform, Pluralsight, about their best advice for striking that elusive work-life balance. Here were their key points:
Stop trying to be a supermom
You are a wonder woman. You do so much! Even with the most supportive spouse, there are so many things to remember, so many tasks to do, appointments, events, plans, work projects, meetings, etc. that burnout is looming at every turn. Have grace for yourself. It usually takes someone else to point that out when we've hit our limit, so we must do our best to prevent that and remind ourselves regularly that we are only human and can only juggle so many things at a time. Plan and set realistic expectations for yourself. Planning conservatively will help get prioritized things done on time. It will help you be more efficient so you can perform at work while being present at home too.
Integrations Engineer, San Diego, CA
Set realistic expectations and embrace change
Just like in any relationship, you must understand how valuable you are in order to maintain a fair agreement between you and your employer. Understanding how valuable you are will help you gain the confidence required to speak up and ask for what will make you a happy and productive employee. You don't ask, you don't get. Some employers already understand the importance of a work/life balance for their staff, but if not, you may need to set firm expectations and boundaries (i.e. long hours, weekend work, workload, etc). When you make it clear what you are willing to do and where your limits are, expectations can ensure employers plan accordingly and you get the time you need for family.
Integrations Engineer, San Diego, CA
At 12 weeks pregnant, I had already read half a dozen books and countless articles on pregnancy and childbirth. My bag was packed with a cute after-hospital outfit, the birth plan was written, and I was prepared.
When my twin girls arrived a month early, the birth plan was the first thing to fly out the window. The books hadn't prepared me for the messiness of childbirth. The cute outfit stayed in my bag. But none of that mattered– I was now responsible for these tiny beautiful human beings who had become my whole world. I was part of something bigger.
This first lesson of motherhood– to embrace change and never lose sight of what's really important– has become invaluable in all aspects of my personal and professional life. In my two-decade career as a software engineer and leader, I constantly find myself throwing plans out the window and adapting to new situations. Being a working mother of five has taught me to use those messy moments as learning opportunities. A greater sense of purpose keeps me grounded and grateful through all the change. At home, it is my family. At work, it comes from being a member of an amazing team and building products that make a difference.
Sr. Director of Software Development, Flow Visualization, Durango, CO
Drop the guilt and give yourself grace
I honestly never envisioned myself being a working mom. It wasn't until I landed in a career that I truly loved, that I thought about how I could pursue both dreams of being a mother and continuing to progress career-wise.
When I first returned to work, it was really challenging. I felt pulled in so many different directions for how I showed up for both family and work. I found myself stretched thin and worn out. Ultimately I didn't feel like I was performing well in any area of my life.
It wasn't until I learned how to prioritize my time, and honestly, say no when others asked for things I couldn't commit to without over-extending myself, that I felt like I really succeeded.
I received some great advice from a mentor about the importance of setting realistic expectations of how much time I can give. At the beginning of my journey of working motherhood, I always felt like I was missing out on work stuff when I had to drop off/pick up my son from daycare. When I was put on meetings that went outside of regular working hours, I felt this pressure to listen in to every word. It made things stressful for both me and my son.
When I finally decided that I was going to spend that commuting time interacting with my son instead of trying to find ways to keep him quiet so I could listen to meetings, things changed for me.
I ask team members to take notes they can share with me following the meeting. Or in cases where there are more details I know I need, I ask for recordings of the meetings. And you know what? I usually find that I'm not missing too much. The business carries on. I'm able to perform my job function well. And I don't feel like my team sees me as less committed for prioritizing my family.
Demand Program Manager, Utah
Only you know what is best for you and your family. Will you be a better mom and wife if you provide financially? Would you make more of a difference if you were a stay-at-home-mom? I tried to be a stay-at-home-mom after being a working mom, and let's just say my impatient personality didn't make for such a positive experience. Also, missing my kids while at work helps me look forward to seeing them and gives me the reset I need sometimes. Each choice has its challenges, and even if you do not have the luxury to choose, just know that whichever way you go YOU ARE DOING THE BEST YOU CAN and that is all you can do. You can feel guilty either way, so choose to do your best and drop the guilt.
Integrations Engineer, San Diego, CA
Learn more about Pluralsight's open roles here.
When the startup Adriana Bosinceanu was working for got acquired, things changed fast.
She went from being one of eight engineers on a small team building a streaming service to joining a company that was five times larger and had a much bigger scope.
That company was Plex, where Adriana has been working remotely as a software engineer for the last four and a half years.
As her team grew from two people to ten, Adriana decided to lean into the opportunity to grow; along the way, she found herself deepening her technical skills, her self-confidence, and her relationships. We sat down with Adriana to learn exactly how she did that, and to hear the tips she has for other engineers experiencing growth opportunities on their team.
Seeing the good
When faced with the complete disruption of the way your team works, you might feel overwhelmed, pessimistic, or even scared.
While it took about a month to get used to working on a new, bigger team and supporting a growing product, Adriana quickly saw all of the positives of her new position—including and especially all the learning it set her up to do.
"I started working with two new colleagues, and they were both such good engineers," says Adriana. "I went from an environment where I was the most senior person, and didn't really have anyone to share things with, to this place where I was suddenly surrounded by senior engineers who were very good at what they were doing."
Again, that might sound like an environment ripe for causing feelings of inadequacy. But Adriana saw it as an opportunity to learn from the best people in her field. And she knows she's not alone in having that experience at Plex.
Since the media streaming company has always been all-remote, explains Adriana, who works from a small city in Romania, that means they can pull the best-quality talent. "Whenever they hire someone, they don't have to pick the best person in the city—it's always the best person out of a much bigger pool of candidates. That means that in general, the people at Plex are pretty great, and very culturally different, and it's just a nice atmosphere," she says.
She attributes a lot of that to Plex's culture. "Every company has their values, and some are more genuine than others," she says. "In our case, one of our values is to be kind and nice to each other, which sounds very simple. But here, everyone is actually trying to be kind and helpful. [And] when you start working with people who don't act in any way like they're superior or know more or have more experience, then you don't really feel overwhelmed."
Leaning into technical challenges
Soon after Plex acquired Adriana's former employer, her team was faced with a new project: to build out the content streaming side of Plex's personal media product.
Instead of a user just being able to access their personal home videos or pictures from all their devices, this new project would introduce streaming options, from podcasts to TIDAL to live TV.
"I've been in a lot of companies where people are scared by a big change or a big feature. They try to just do the smaller version instead. And our mindset has always been to not be scared of doing the scary, big feature," says Adriana.
Her team jumped all the way in, and it paid off. "It was super fun because I was there from the start," says Adriana. "From the first line of code committed to now, years later. It really helped my confidence to be able to make decisions, to see everything grow, and to figure out that it's okay to make mistakes and to rewrite, to adapt, and to be constantly evolving."
"My technical skills have definitely grown because before I had never worked on a product that had such a scale. I never worked somewhere where we had to deal with hundreds of millions of requests a day or with huge databases," explains Adriana.
Now, being in charge of vital parts of this huge project, Adriana can look back and recognize the impact that taking on a big technical challenge with a growing team had on her self-confidence.
"I feel that now I could do anything," she says. "I could be part of any tech project, where before, I didn't have the confidence to think about myself that way. [That comes from] seeing how I could start a big, ambitious project and actually code it from beginning to end."
3 tips for making the most out of growth opportunities
If you find yourself in a situation similar to Adriana's, whether that's experiencing growth on your team, joining a new company, or facing a new, challenging project, here's what she recommends you do:
- Get to know your team and understand its dynamics. "Whenever someone joins the team, the team dynamic changes," she says. "Sometimes it's very easy, sometimes you need to adapt." Pre-pandemic, she and her Plex colleagues kept up with that dynamic by meeting up for in-person off-sites at least twice a year. "When you get together with your small team in a foreign city for a week, you have time to talk about everything and to bond, and those have really helped us a lot," she says. They took those meetups online this last year, and while some of the magic is definitely missing, says Adriana, "a week of not coding and hanging out and talking still helps."
- Be patient with yourself if you feel overwhelmed. "A lot of people feel like they're not good enough or don't have enough experience and that's just not true. That's how everyone feels," says Adriana. That's especially true if you're trying on different technical skill sets to find the ones you like best, she adds. "Personally, I switched languages a bunch of times until I finally figured out what I like. I think it's hard to figure out without trying," she says.
- If you're not getting the opportunities you want in your current situation, seek them out. "If you're unhappy, you know, [gather] some courage and apply for whatever your dream job is," says Adriana. "If you're hardworking and you like it and you're into coding, I'm sure it's going to work out."
*Updated on June 17th, 2021 to reflect Juneteenth officially being named a Federal Holiday in the U.S.*
Juneteenth has been celebrated by African-Americans since the late 1800s, but in recent years (particularly in response to global protests over police brutality and the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and other Black Americans), there has been a surge in interest in the day that celebrates freedom.
Before it became an official federal holiday, many businesses shifted toward marking June 19th as an annual company holiday, creating different initiatives around the holiday and offering employees opportunities to learn, reflect, and take action toward racial equality.
In honor of Juneteenth, we reached out to our partner companies to see how they're honoring Freedom Day. Here's what they said:
Committing to Ongoing Learning– Chainalysis
"Chainalysis has chosen to provide a day off on Friday, June 18 for its employees to free themselves of work activities in order to prioritize reflecting in any way, shape or form they choose to. By providing a company-wide day off, Chainalysis is ensuring that its employees have the bandwidth to commit to ongoing learning and expanding upon the company's DEI initiatives, as that contributes to -a better workplace, and society, for all."
They've also planned the following initiatives for their employees:
- "Hosting a panel discussion, with internal and external guests, around the importance of diversity, Juneteenth and what we can do to help tackle structural inequality, particularly in the fintech/ blockchain/ cryptocurrency space.
- Curating and creating an educational video and newsletter around the significance of Juneteenth.
- Promoting give-back resources and opportunities to Black-owned or focused organizations and foundations that tackle social justice issues.
- Competition to commemorate Juneteenth - whether dish or design - with winners to choose an organization of choice for Chainalysis to contribute to."
A Virtual Artistic Experience and More– LogMeIn
"This year, LogMeIn's Black ERG (BE@LogMeIn) is offering several opportunities to celebrate Juneteenth. First we will come together to view a virtual artistic experience in which three LGBTQIA+ artists of color will share original poems, monologues, and stories. Then we will host a "Storytime" in partnership with our Families ERG for an interactive reading of Juneteenth for Mazie, a captivating story about the history of slavery and why we celebrate Juneteenth as told from parent to child. Finally, we will host an engaging tour of the Black Heritage Trail, a 1.6 mile walk in Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood."
Learn more about LogMeIn here.
Supporting Black Businesses– Ciena
"At Ciena our Black & African Heritage (B&AH) ERG is encouraging employees to participate in a day of service on Friday 18th using their Volunteering Time Off to engage in their respective cities to serve Black and African heritage communities. B&AH has also created a page on Go/Ciena, Ciena's intranet, to share curated content to commemorate the day either by supporting Black businesses, attending virtual Juneteenth events, and educating themselves and others."
Learn more about Ciena here.
Focusing on Reflection– Vouch
"Vouch celebrates Juneteenth by closing for observation on June 18. We encourage our employees to take the day to focus on reflection."
Learn more about Vouch here.
Elevating Black Voices– Collins Aerospace
"In a first-of-its-kind industry collaboration event at the ERG level, the Collins Aerospace African American Enterprise Board (AAEB) and the Boeing Black Employee Association (BBEA) will join forces in an event dedicated to elevating Black voices across our companies. We hope this will be the first of many such industry-wide conversations between our ERGs as we strive for aerospace to be the most inclusive space. In addition, several site-specific events will commemorate and honor the history of Juneteenth and why it is critical for all to remember the day."
Learn more about Collins Aerospace here.
Dream In Color Film Review– NBA
"Dream In Color will host a panel discussion with the forces behind "A Most Beautiful Thing," a documentary film chronicling the history of the first U.S. African American public high school rowing team. As the NBA office is closed in celebration on the holiday on Friday, on June 18th executive producer and NBA legend Grant Hill, director Mary Mazzio and Arshay Cooper, a rower and protagonist of the film, will discuss Arshay's story. This discussion will moderated by NBA TV host, Stephanie Ready."
Learn more about the NBA here.
Reflecting on Our Past, Creating Change for Our Future– Freddie Mac
"At Freddie Mac, we're building on our continued commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion by recognizing Juneteenth as an official company holiday and day of service. The significance of the day will be commemorated with a series of learnings and opportunities throughout the month to engage inclusively while giving back to our local communities, including:
"Day of Understanding" keynote address featuring a professor of African American Studies.
"Building Community within Our Communities" series of virtual community outreach initiatives supporting select non-profits across the U.S"
Learn more about Freddie Mac here.
Speaking to Equality– Netskope
"Netskope observes Juneteenth as an official company holiday in the United States. We have expanded our events that celebrate and observe dates and moments that speak to equality and against racism - Juneteenth being one of many."
Learn more about Netskope here.
Spreading Awareness Across the Nation– Uber
"The United States and Canada will continue to observe Juneteenth and Black at Uber is releasing company-wide communications surrounding the day, its meaning, and celebratory events and activities going on in cities across the United States and Canada that people can support and attend."
Learn more about Uber here.
Lunch and Learn Celebration– AAA
"AAA EXCEL Business Resource Group (BRG): EXCEL will be hosting a "Lunch & Learn" Event to celebrate and discuss Juneteenth. This Freedom Day Event will feature a Meet-and-Greet with the EXCEL Leadership Team, a panel discussion with Executive Leaders, and a fun ending filled with prizes."
Learn more about AAA here.
Virtual Fashion Show– Audible
"Audible's Impact Groups encourage an environment where you can be you. This Juneteenth Audible's Black Employee Network will be celebrating The Style of Freedom and The Freedom of Style! Audible Employees will share pictures in a virtual fashion show inspired by this prompt:
Imagine this: it's Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865. A huge celebration is kicking off. And we're there. What would you wear? It could be historical, cultural, or contemporary."
Learn more about Audible here.
Deepening Awareness and Making Positive Change– S&P Global
"At S&P Global, we commemorate Juneteenth while recognizing that we still have a long way to go to create an equitable society. This year we marked Juneteenth with a formal U.S. company holiday, and provided our people with resources to deepen their awareness of what this day stands for while continuing to make positive change. We will engage our people through educational event programming, brave spaces for open conversations, and our community partnerships. Some planned events include "Making Freedom Pay: What we can learn from the U.S. Reconstruction Era" and "Beyond ESG: Economic Impact of Inequality on Black Women."
Learn more about S&P Global here.
Conversations About Black Investing– Moody’s
"In honor of Juneteenth, we will host several conversations that focus on the Black community and financial services. Our CEO, Rob Fauber and Michael T. Pugh, CEO of Carver Federal Savings Bank, will come together for a live conversation on the state of Black owned banks, "Banking Black," and much more. In addition, DK Bartley, Moody's Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion officer, and Mellody Hobson, President and co-CEO of Ariel Investments and the chairwoman of Starbucks Corporation, will host a session on the importance of Black investing. We will also issue a newsletter that commemorates and educates employees about the significance of Juneteenth."
Learn more about Moody's here.
Driving Equity and Inclusion– Nestlé USA
"We announced last year that Juneteenth, sometimes called Emancipation Day or Freedom Day, would be added as a corporate holiday in the US. Cultural conversations about equality and racial equity brought into focus the importance of this day and we believed it was important to commemorate it as a company. So, our corporate offices will be closed on Friday, June 18th, to allow employees time to reflect on the history of Juneteenth, the meaning of the day and consider their role in driving equity and inclusion at Nestlé and in our communities."
Learn more about Nestlé USA here.
Appreciate the Difference and Be Curious– VTS
"VTS offices will be closed for observance for Juneteenth. We encourage all employees to take the time to live our values of Appreciating the Difference and Be Curious and actively engage in the holiday. While we may have the day off, it is actually a "day on" as the holiday is a crucial day for allyship. We will be sharing some resources to all employees to learn more on how to celebrate and take action."
Learn more about VTS here.
Brave Space Sessions– Okta
Okta is Celebrating Juneteenth through the following initiatives:
- "Celebrating Juneteenth" presentation at company all-hands: The presentation featured historical context on the holiday as well as suggestions for employees to get involved."
- "DIB Lunch and Learn: Fireside Chat with Jodi-Ann Burey: Jodi-Ann will discuss heritage months, how companies can better support employees from marginalized communities, allyship, and intersectionality."
- "Brave Space Session: We will create space for authentic conversations about violence in POC communities and how to channel this energy into something that can build a stronger community within our organization."
- "Ailey Film Screening: For two days at the end of the month we will have the new Ailey film available for viewing."
- "Juneteenth video featuring Black employees from Okta."
- "Newsletter that highlights a few Black employees at Okta and their experiences with Juneteenth during childhood."
Storytelling, Reflection, Empathy, and Action– Seatgeek
"This Juneteenth, we are focusing our programming on four elements - storytelling, reflection, empathy, and action - expanding last year's Day of Service to several days of impactful virtual events.
SeatGeek has also committed to donating $10,000 on behalf of our employees, giving individuals an opportunity to contribute to the fund as well."
Learn more about SeatGeek here.
Celebrating the Legacy of Juneteenth– VideoAmp
"Saturday, June 19 is the 156th anniversary of Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day. Out of respect for and to honor this important day for all African Americans across the country, VideoAmp will observe Friday, June 18 as a company holiday. All offices will be closed, and we encourage Vampers to participate in cultural activities or give-back events to show allyship and support for Black citizens in the communities where we live and work."
Learn more about VideoAmp here.
Honor, Recognize, and Reflect– MongoDB
"MongoDB recognizes Juneteenth as a paid day off for U.S. employees. This year, MongoDB employees located in the U.S. will take the day off on Friday, June 18th to honor, recognize, and reflect on Juneteenth."
Learn more about MongoDB here.
Sharing Thoughts, Experiences, and Resources– BlackRock
"We have several opportunities for employees to reflect on the ongoing struggle for racial equity and observe Juneteenth. For instance, our Black Professionals Network (BPN) in our Delaware Office is partnering with the Global Head of Talent Acquisition, leaders & managers of the Delaware campus to share their thoughts, experiences, and provide resources for hiring diverse talent in honor of Juneteenth. This panel will discuss obstacles regarding the hiring of diverse talent, will touch upon the firm's commitment and current progress, and will also explore how our Black Professionals Network can support with such hires."
Learn more about BlackRock here.
Social Justice Day– Healthfirst
"On June 17, Healthfirst's weekly employee Race & Justice Forum becomes a celebration of Juneteenth, featuring a special presentation of employees from around the company sharing what Juneteenth means to them—it's history, traditions, and future. Members of the Black History Month committee will meet with Healthfirst summer interns for a small group discussion about Juneteenth as well. That Friday the company's intranet page will feature a tribute to Juneteenth, with a primer on its history and information about the company's Social Justice Day, a paid day off to engage in activities or service that positively impacts the community."
Learn more about Healthfirst here.
Showcasing Black Excellence– Relativity
Black Excellence Showcase posters
"Relativity's community resource group, BRel (Black at Relativity) is virtually highlighting black owned businesses via black excellence showcases throughout the week. Our showcases celebrate Black Excellence while educating our Relativity community with bios, fun facts, videos, articles, and custom art celebrating the amazing work of black individuals. Additionally, we'll be encouraging our Relativians to support black businesses via a list of recommendations.
Relativity is also partnering with the Innov-8 leadership team on June 17 to host a webinar highlighting challenges black employees face and how individuals and organizations can work to negate these challenges."
Lamar Jordan – Infrastructure Engineer II & Co-Chair of BRel (Black at Relativity)
Learn more about Relativity here.
Education, Advocacy, Demonstration, and Donation– PagerDuty
"One year ago we introduced our Day for Change initiative on Juneteenth. We recognize Juneteenth as a global holiday and encourage employees to use the time to advocate for equity and critical reform for the Black community. Furthermore, we have grown this annual initiative into a comprehensive quarterly offering. Days for Change involves a strategic delivery of programming, content, philanthropic efforts, and a menu of action items, enabling company-wide activation with four key pillars to create change; Education, Advocacy, Demonstration, and Donation."
Learn more about PagerDuty here.
Inform, Encourage, Reflect, and Engage– ServiceNow
"ServiceNow celebrates Juneteenth this year with a series of employee experiences designed to increase awareness, inform, encourage reflection, and engage.
- A video featuring Black employees sharing what Juneteenth means to them and their Juneteenth family traditions
- Employees globally sharing the music, literature, figure or moment that influenced their understanding of the Black experience
- Dialogue on ServiceNow's $100M investment in Racial Equity fund
- Launch of Black at Now Belonging Group newsletter
- Intersectional opportunity to celebrate LGBTQIA+ artists of color"
Rest and Reflect– GameChanger
"GameChanger observes Juneteenth and honors its historical importance by offering all teammates a paid company holiday. We also are providing teammates with resources to enable them to take the time off to rest and reflect, learn, and/or advocate. Finally, we're hosting a teammate dialogue circle the day before the holiday to provide teammates the chance to learn and discuss why the day is not just an important day in Black History but for American History."
Learn more about GameChanger here.
Sparking Empathy and Acceptance– Elastic
"In order to commemorate Juneteenth, Elastic will be observing this event as a holiday on Friday, June 18th."
"If you're looking for a documentary, start with 13th, directed by Ava DuVernay. It can be challenging to spend a lot of time on the subject of racism — it's very heavy. Ava knows how to get to the core of the metamorphosis of racism. This documentary highlights how slavery evolved from convict leasing to disproportionate mass incarceration and other factors like keeping people locked into the system with GPS monitoring, house arrest, etc. This documentary demonstrates what modern slavery looks like. 13th helps spark empathy and acceptance of black peoples' stories instead of nullifying them."
Destiny H, Prin Web Producer
Learn more about Elastic here.
Amplifying Employee's Voices– Procore
"Procore is observing Juneteenth (or Freedom Day) on Friday, June 18 as a global holiday for all employees. Through Modern Health, our mental wellness program, employees also have the opportunity to attend a webinar to reflect on what Juneteenth is and what it means in corporate America. We are also celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Daring Conversations and Allyship speaker series, which focuses on listening, learning, and amplifying our employee's voices. You can learn more about our ongoing efforts to build a more diverse and inclusive future here."
Learn more about Procore here.
Juneteenth Day of Learning– Facebook
"On Friday, June 18, Facebook is excited to host our company-wide Juneteenth day of learning in recognition of the legacy, excellence, and resilience that drives the immense contributions of the Black community to the world.
Employees can participate in a full day's slate of insightful discussions with notable activists and public figures, including Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Tina Knowles-Lawson, June's Diary and more, who will share perspectives on the history and significance of Juneteenth.
Or employees can take the day off to celebrate in ways that are meaningful to them with a personal Facebook Choice Day.
Externally, our family of apps will tell the story of how Black people use our platforms every day to reimagine freedom through community, personal expression, love, joy, celebration and action."
Learn more about Facebook here.