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!
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January is National Mentorship Month— the perfect time to focus on growing and building important relationships with mentors that will positively affect your professional career.
Research shows that mentorship greatly improves career outcomes by providing professional guidance, skill development, and support through major work and life transitions.
We asked some of our partner companies to tell us about the mentorship opportunities they offer. If you’re ready to unleash your full potential by joining an impactful mentoring program, keep reading to hear what they said. (Plus, they’re all hiring—check out their open jobs under each entry!)
“Clarus Commerce has been running a mentorship program for the last 9 years. Here is how it works:
- Senior leaders nominate mentors within their department.
- The program lasts for about 6 months.
- Those who are interested in being mentored provide 6 topics that they’d like to discuss in mentoring meetings, which help us pair people up. Mentoring topics should focus on topics such as: leadership, how to manage up, presentation skills, communication, work life balance, etc.
- We leverage our Insights and Discovery profiles that each employee has to help better understand each other’s communication styles and help facilitate great discussions.”
Learn more about Clarus Commerce here.
“PwC professionals are provided learning opportunities, supportive career growth and unique mentoring opportunities to help them to fulfill their potential. The firm has several programs that include intentional mentorship and focus on building representation, inclusion and development of their people. For example, the firm launched Enrich, an experience designed to support the development and leadership skills of high-potential female and racially and ethnically diverse senior managers and directors. There is also Thrive, an innovative two-year experience for Black and Latinx entry-level new joiners that helps lay the foundation for a successful career through culture workshops, networking, connectivity and leadership engagement.”
Learn more about PwC here.
“At CallRail we have a program called Connection Point where individual contributors are paired with members of the Senior Leadership Team. Each pair is together for a full quarter and are given topics for their meetings, topics range from; career stories, situational advice and feedback, etc. At the conclusion of the quarter the individual contributors that have been in the program have a round table lunch with the CEO. This has been a great way to foster deeper connections within the organization, demystify senior leadership and help individuals see a path forward.”
Learn more about CallRail here.
“Automattic’s Design Mentoring program is a mutually beneficial partnership providing development opportunities for all. Mentees pick up new skills or get guidance with a project. Mentors practice communication, leadership, and knowledge sharing. The organization benefits from more engaged, productive employees, who have increased job satisfaction because mentorship encourages meaningful work that aligns personal and professional goals. In our distributed work environment, mentoring provides a human connection and a trusted space to grow. Tapping into all of the design experience and skill that our organization has is a powerful way to grow individually … and collectively."
Learn more about Automattic here.
“Relativity Women of the Workplace (RelWoW) Mentorship Circles is a group mentoring program that brings together women at varying stages in their careers and from every department at Relativity. The program sessions are curated by our team and include materials, talking points and action items to help create open dialogue, build connections and develop skills for personal and professional development. The program runs around six months, and includes a kickoff, mid-point event exclusive to program members, and a closing celebration. Relativity also plans to pilot a new mentoring program with broader reach across the company in 2022.”
—Yvonne Frazier – Executive Assistant
Learn more about Relativity here.
“CDW Business Resource Groups are a key source for networking and mentoring opportunities. In 2019, our BeU BRG launched a formal mentoring program through their Project IMPACT initiative aimed at recruiting, retaining and promoting Black coworkers. It has been a successful program that has brought coworkers together across departments and roles, sharing new experiences and perspectives for both mentors and mentees.”
Learn more about CDW here.
“BRIDGE is Kinesso's reverse mentoring program bringing together senior leaders and future leaders globally. Our program pairs employees with Kinesso's Senior Leadership Team, but rather than leadership mentoring employees, our employees mentor our senior leaders!
Through mentorship programs like Bridge, Kinesso's brings together employees across generations, cultures, territories, and job levels. Giving our future leaders the opportunity to share fresh perspectives and innovative ideas allows our current leaders to look at inclusion, capabilities, collaboration, and connectivity from a completely different lens.
"(Bridge) is immensely important for many reasons, but most of all, it shows that no matter where you are in your career, you should never stop learning and growing."
—Arun Kumar, CEO at Kinesso and Global Chief Data & Marketing Technology Officer at IPG”
For more information on Kinesso, please visit Kinesso.com/careers.
Learn more about Kinesso here.
"At SoundCloud, one of our core behaviors is to embrace the challenge- but that doesn’t mean that you go at it alone. We encourage SoundClouders to ask for help and to give help to those who it need along the way. Over the past few years we have offered a mentorship program that connects rising SoundClouders with under-represented identities (gender/race/ethnicity) with more senior level employees around topics of professional branding and career growth, influencing and emotional intelligence, and strategic thinking. In 2022, we aim to launch 2 cohorts of mentorship/coaching targeting different ranks of women of color."
Learn more about SoundCloud here.
“BlackRock has nine employee networks and four professional networks – all of which offer mentorship programs or opportunities.
Our employee networks: Mosaic; Ability & Allies Network; Asian, Middle Eastern & Allies Professional Network; Black Professionals & Allies Network; Families & Allies Network; Out & Allies Network; SOMOS Latinx & Allies Network; and Women's Initiative & Allies Network.
Our professional networks: Analyst Alley, Associates Arena, Global Administrative Initiative Network, and VP Village.”
Learn more about BlackRock here.
“Having both formal and informal mentors is crucial to elevate any career. At Lockheed Martin, mentoring is the development of meaningful relationships to transfer valuable knowledge and understanding from one person to another. It is a personal enhancement strategy through which one person willingly facilitates the development of another by sharing known resources, expertise, values, skills, perspectives, attitudes, and proficiencies. Our mentoring program is tailored to the individual employee to give them the right tools, the right resources, at the right time.”
Learn more about Lockheed Martin here.
“Autodesk is a place where you can shape your future and help others do the same. The Autodesk Mentorship Program empowers employees to take ownership of their careers and build on a mindset of learning from each other by offering mentorship opportunities for professional and personal development, peer-to-peer learning, and focused networking. The program helps you identify your goals and recommends matches for a mentor or mentee to help you accomplish them. Through the Autodesk Mentorship Program, employees can make connections, grow their skills, explore opportunities and build their career paths.”
Learn more about Autodesk here.
“Cummins Women’s Empowerment Network (WEN) focuses on a mission to create the right environment by advocating for equal representation, empowering women, and fostering inclusion for every employee in all work assignments at all levels.
As part of the work to achieve such a mission, WEN focuses on mentoring and development initiatives designed to foster mentoring relationships, broaden employee networks, and provide opportunities for personal and professional growth. Initiatives include Speed Mentoring Sessions, Personal Development & Networking Events and WEN Mentoring Circles Program. This annual Mentoring Circles Program provides a monthly opportunity for exempt employees to participate in a forum for open discussion, explore new perspectives and learn from peers and leaders.
Within the Europe region we also have the Cummins Business Services mentoring program which is open to all employees at all levels.”
Learn more about Cummins here.
“Meet a pairing in Millennium’s Mentorship Program: Cari Smalley, Co-Head HR Business Partners, Americas, and Jasmin Zirino, Operations Specialist. They say, "The mentorship program is a fantastic experience for anyone who wishes to join. It allows you to meet someone you do not directly work with and grow your network. It is invaluable to have the ability to work through solutions to problems, use one another as sounding boards, and occasionally just blow off steam in a supportive space."”
Learn more about Millennium Management here.
“Mentorship is about stepping out of our comfort zone, taking charge and acting upon our ambitions, opening doors for others and learning more about the skills that make our own success.
Expedia Group has a volunteer-led program allowing every employee to have an equal chance to grow and succeed. The program has brought together a group of 1,700 Expedians from all over the world who believe in skills development and the power to elevate others while creating Inclusion at Expedia Group. Through a self-service marketplace platform and organized meetup sessions, EG’s Mentoring Program enables all employees to ask for help and embrace their own identity while belonging to a community that thrives through diversity.”
Learn more about Expedia Group here.
“At Equinix, our employee connection networks (EECNs) play an important role in bringing together communities for learning and growth opportunities, including mentoring. While mentees gain much from mentors, we often find that mentors also discover growth opportunities.
By asking these questions, we instill best practices for a successful mentorship:
What does each party want from this experience? How often to meet? Confidentiality: What’s shareable and what isn’t?
Feedback: What are the expectations around giving and receiving feedback?
And remember, a mentoring relationship is like any other relationship—it takes time to develop. Build trust by getting to know one another.”
Learn more about Equinix here.
"At Unstoppable, it is our commitment to having a crypto forward culture. Every new team member is matched with a Crypto Buddy who acts as their first point of contact outside of their direct team, guides them down the crypto rabbit hole, and welcomes them into Unstoppable’s culture. As a fully remote company, making cross-team collaboration a key part of onboarding strengthens our community. This is also an opportunity for the buddy to hone their mentoring and teaching skills. When the new hire has been with the company for six months, they will then become a mentor themselves, driving a continuous cycle of mentorship."
Learn more about Unstoppable Domains here.
“Mentoring@Uber connects employees who are passionate about helping and up-skilling others with those who are seeking guidance and development. It is a way of connecting and sharing challenges on a mutual and reliable relationship —and trying to get another perspective from an unbiased source. It’s also an opportunity to learn from the experiences of others, or collaborate together to come up with a solution to professional problems that arise. People with mentors perform better, advance in their careers faster, and even maintain more work-life balance. And mentors benefit, too.”
Learn more about Uber here.
“MongoDB has offered two pilot mentorship programs to support underrepresented groups. One program focused on promising first-line managers and ICs from underrepresented groups and the other focused on providing executive mentorship to women & nonbinary leaders at the director level and up. In both programs, participants were matched with a mentor with who they regularly met to discuss career planning and personal development. Feedback from both pilots was hugely positive with participants indicating that they received helpful support from their mentors. Members from our ERGs have also served as mentors to our summer class of interns.”
Learn more about MongoDB here.
“Our Black and Latinx ERG, Array, offers a mentorship program pairing individual contributors within Array to C-Suite and VP level mentors, including PagerDuty CEO Jennifer Tejada. Dedicated to leveling the playing field for Black and Latinx employees, the program is structured so everyone can learn from each other. Mentees are paired with mentors from within or outside their department for a nine-month term, which includes check-ins, themed discussions, and monthly one-on-ones. Bri Solorzano, an Array mentee, explained that this mentorship program allows her to build bonds with higher level executives, and share her personal experiences as a Latinx employee and individual contributor at PagerDuty.”
Learn more about PagerDuty here.
T. Rowe Price
“Due to the highly collaborative culture at T. Rowe Price, the firm understands the value of relationships and the opportunities strong mentorship can provide. It is committed to not only developing talent within its walls but developing the next generation of talent within communities.
The firm will launch a new global mentorship program in 2022, which will offer associates the opportunity to connect with colleagues, agnostic of location or business unit. T. Rowe Price also provides leadership development to youth in the community through strategic partnerships such as the Baltimore Ravens Leadership Institute, a program aimed at high school students.”
Learn more about T. Rowe Price here.
“At Pluralsight, we take growth seriously. Which is why we offer a six-month long mentorship program for all of our employees. Our mentorship program is facilitated bi-annually by Women@Pluralsight, one of our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and aims to empower participants to recognize their full potential. We intentionally pair mentors and mentees to create connections that encourage the development of skills crucial to success, and foster personal and professional growth. In our most recent cycle we paired nearly 200 participants and have plans to continue growing that number. Because at Pluralsight, your growth is our growth, and vice versa.”
Learn more about Pluralsight here.
“At Yelp, we value and actively foster an environment focused on learning and development. There are a variety of mentorship opportunities available, such as:
- New Hire Mentors — new employees are paired with a team mentor to help them onboard and get settled in.
- Engineering Mentorship Program — any IC engineer can sign up to become or get a mentor within Yelp Engineering.
- Manager Mentorship Program — new engineering managers or proto-managers can get support from experienced managers at Yelp.
- Awesome Women in Engineering — This employee resource group’s mentorship program helps AWE members find mentors or mentee within the group.”
Learn more about Yelp here.
“At Turo, we help each other. We collaborate. We challenge each other. And we create the tools to succeed independently and as a team.
When you join Turo engineering, you’re assigned a mentor, a reliable, single point-of-contact to help you set up your environment, navigate the codebase, and acclimate to Turo’s culture and workplace. Mentors have a great responsibility to ensure new Turists feel welcome, offer encouragement, and provide advice and guidance on complex matters of systems and architecture. Engineers who demonstrate our core values of efficiency, pioneering, and being down-to-earth and supportive have an opportunity to mentor new engineers. Mentoring engineers is a great way to build the skills necessary to further your career at Turo.”
“Mentoring has allowed me to deepen my technical understanding and team connections.”
– Lauren Kroner, Senior Software Engineer
Learn more about Turo here.
“In the US, Moody’s has an intergenerational mentoring program, our Pride BRG members coach youth in the Queer Coders program. Our Women’s, Veterans, and Multicultural BRGs have a variety of mentoring programs, including summer intern mentorship, our Asian Leadership Initiative and our ConectaMos Hispanic/Latinx 1:1 mentoring program. Our Women’s Group Mentoring Program just celebrated its 10th anniversary with over 800 mentor-mentee participants over 10 years. In EMEA, Moody’s offers Power to Act reverse mentoring, mentoring through the Women’s and Pride BRGs, and a parental leave mentoring scheme. In APAC, Moody’s has various cross-BRG and cross-department mentoring programs.”
Learn more about Moody’s here.
“At Condé Nast, we are focused on providing positive career development opportunities. We recently launched a Global Mentorship Program as an option for employees to connect and learn from one another. For six months, employees participate as a mentor and/or mentee to develop their careers, grow their skills and guide one another. The structured framework creates and sustains an inclusive experience that empowers everyone’s growth.
The MentorcliQ platform we use lets us create mentoring pairs based on their interests, experiences and personality compatibility. To date we have had 473 active mentorship pairs.”
Learn more about Condé Nast here.
“Thornburg Small Group Mentor Program was created to bring employees of various tenures and experience levels together in order to cultivate organic relationships and opportunities for influence in a low-pressure environment.
The program consists of six small groups comprised of one mentor and three to six mentees. These groups meet for one hour every month for six months. The series concludes with a virtual event where all participants from every group can meet and share takeaways from their experiences.
- Small group format (not one-on-one)
- Low cost, low maintenance, light structure
- Flexibility for mentors to lead through individual style"
Learn more about Thornburg here.
“Women@Okta’s upcoming mentorship program:
W@Okta’s vision for the year is to empower, develop and support women-identified employees in order to ultimately improve gender diversity at Okta. One of our key methods is to empower the next generation of female leadership by providing a platform for women to connect and learn from one another through group and 1:1 mentorship opportunities. Our Professional Development branch is launching a pilot mentorship program with an initial cohort of 32 mentors and mentees.
Goals: Career, personal and organizational
Share your needs, desires, goals, and challenges; career choice and mobility.
Explore people, resources, information, expertise you need – but don’t have – to speed up, enhance, and ensure your results.”
—Professional Development Lead Christina Ghallagher (Senior Sales Development Representative) & Partnerships Co-Lead Sarah Schiff (Senior Manager, Customer First Recruiting)
Learn more about Okta here.
💎 Get ready for a competency-based interview with these valuable insights from a Netskope recruiter!
📼 Have you ever heard of a competency-based interview? It’s also known as a structured, behavioral, or situational interview, and it’s designed to test one or more skills or competencies. Watch this video, where you’ll meet Nicole Wilczynski, a member of the Talent Acquisition team at Netskope. She’ll review Netskope’s application process and give you some insights on how to best prepare for this type of interview.
📼 The best way to prepare for a competency-based interview is to review your resume and think of some projects and situations you’ve encountered in previous roles. When asked behavioral or situational questions, always provide a brief example to back up your answer. Think of something specific and unique to yourself, rather than delivering something generic.
📼 Apart from preparing the best answers for a competency-based interview, you should consider polishing your resume. Recruiters see a ton of resumes every day. Yours must stand out to make it through the first round of the selection process. You should use a few keywords in your resume. Look at the job description and make sure that your background aligns with what the company seeks. If so, you should probably already have those important points in your resume. For example, if you're a software engineer, list some technologies and programming languages that you know. If you're in sales, throw in some metrics: numbers are your friends!
Competency-Based Interview: Netskope Recruiter’s Go-To Questions
Nicole’s go-to question for a candidate is always, “What do you know about Netskope?” It's so important to research a company before the initial recruiter call because it shows your level of interest. Nicole also always asks the candidate, “What are three things that are most important for you in your next role?” It helps her understand what the candidate prioritizes, whether that's a great culture, high salary, or good work-life balance. As Nicole says, there are no wrong answers for this one! She just wants to make sure it's a mutual fit.
🧑💼 Are you interested in joining Netskope? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
More About Netskope
Netskope is the leader in cloud security. They help the world’s largest organizations take full advantage of the cloud and web without sacrificing security. Their mission is to evolve security for the way people work. They believe that people and companies should collaborate without limits, working safely across the cloud, web, devices, and locations. Their patented Cloud XD technology eliminates blind spots by going deeper than any other security provider to quickly target and control activities across thousands of cloud services and millions of websites. With complete control from one cloud, their customers benefit from 360-degree data protection that guards data everywhere and advanced threat protection that stops elusive attacks. At Netskope, they call this smart cloud security. Founded by early architects and distinguished engineers from security and networking leaders like Palo Alto Networks, NetScreen, Juniper Networks, Cisco, and VMware, Netskope’s team is the strongest.
Karen Penn credits her career evolution with her lack of patience.
The former government lawyer found herself appreciative of the chance to shape DEI policy at a Department of Defense component agency. But it was slow going.
“My analogy is trying to turn an aircraft carrier around on a lake. Or now I can say, trying to get the container ship that got stuck in the Suez canal out,” she says, smiling. “It’s hard for me to wait years and years to see change. Particularly when, in the tech industry, there’s opportunity with the right leadership support to make meaningful, quick changes that set the framework for longer-term impact.”
Now, as the Head of DEI at Elastic, a distributed company that powers search solutions, Karen is able to make lasting changes supported by an internal culture of openness, growth, and a commitment to inclusion. With employees in 40 countries and with 100-plus different nationalities, building a DEI approach that scales globally has been an exciting challenge.
We sat down with Karen to hear more about her career path and about how she’s helping to support and evolve organic DEI efforts to serve Elasticians around the world.
A “Recovering Lawyer”
Like many kids, Karen used to love sitting around the dinner table and listening to her dad’s stories from work. Especially since her dad was a judge.
“I was so enthralled by not only his lived experiences as a Black man, but from what he saw happening in the courtroom every day,” she says. “I wanted to be a lawyer because I wanted to be just like my dad.”
That passion took Karen to law school, where she enjoyed honing her skills in logical analysis, but realized she didn’t want to be taking cases to court as a criminal or corporate lawyer. So after serving as a judicial law clerk, she took a job working for the Office of Civil Rights within the U.S. Department of Justice, where she was responsible for ensuring that grant recipients had equal opportunity plans in place and weren’t being discriminatory.
“That really opened my perspective to what happens to folks who face inequality,” she reflects.
After 4 years, she was ready for something with a faster pace. She applied for an in-house role that grew into becoming the Head of HR for a small company.
“I quickly realized that this thing called HR is what I was supposed to be doing,” she says. “HR is really the cultural heartbeat of an organization, where you’re able to create and implement policy and processes that have influence.”
Volunteering during the 2008 election inspired Karen to get back into government work, though, so that’s when she joined the Department of Defense to stand up their DEI recruitment function in the Defense Contract Management Agency.
When her bureaucracy meter had tapped out again, she started working as an HR consultant, embedding in companies that needed short-term help. Her last placement was with Endgame, a cybersecurity firm acquired by Elastic two years ago.
Because of Elastic’s fast-paced growth, says Karen, there was a need for HR talent that understood the tech space and how to support an inclusive culture in a distributed company. She stepped up and joined the company’s senior HR leadership team, where she currently runs the company’s DEI efforts and their CSR program, Elastic Cares.
“My experiences growing up as a Black woman, hearing stories about inequality and discrimination and experiencing my own, learning about it in undergrad and law school studies, and seeing it at the justice department, it fueled everything I do,” says Karen of her path. “It’s all about equality.”
Solidifying Organic Efforts
Shortly after Karen became part of the Elastic team, George Floyd’s murder sent shockwaves across the U.S. and also across the globe.
At that point in time, Karen describes Elastic’s DEI efforts as “good folks being good, but no cohesive approach.” Organic communities had formed on Slack, bringing together Black employees, LGBTQIA+ employees, and women who worked at Elastic to talk about their shared experiences.
Karen’s first step was to reshape the conversation around DEI as a company. She launched a newsletter that explored the nuance of representation at work, leaning on her lawyer background to explain the difference between quotas (illegal!) and good-faith hiring targets, for instance.
She also helped expand Elastic Cares, Elastic’s approach to CSR, to include direct links to DEI efforts. For example, Elastic Cares hosts quarterly sessions featuring nonprofits (NPOs), sourced in collaboration with 7 employee resource groups (ERGs), that have explored intersectional anti-discrimination, underrepresentation in tech, among others. Employees are encouraged to use 40 hours of volunteer time off to support NPOs of their choosing (Karen herself works with a nonprofit that helps resettle refugees); they can dedicate a $1,500 (or the equivalent in local currency) gift matching budget to causes they care about, and nominate them for free Elastic cloud clusters through the NPO Granting Program.
“Rolling Elastic Cares under the broader DEI effort gave us a vehicle for when folks say, ‘What can I do to help be part of the solution?’” says Karen.
A Global, Distributed Approach to DEI
The Elastic community responded well to Karen’s early DEI efforts. But Karen realized that what resonated with the U.S. team might not translate perfectly to employees in other countries.
“When you have a global organization, it’s really important that you’re not talking only about representation of African Americans, because that’s not going to translate to someone in Poland or Israel,” she says.
To help with that, Karen has focused on a broad definition of what diversity means. “It’s cognitive, it’s language, it’s learning style; it’s limitless,” she says.
As Elastic’s DEI efforts scale globally, Karen leans on the company’s Source Code, or a set of shared ideas that all employees are building towards. Part of the Source Code reads as follows:
Our products are distributed by design, our company is distributed by intention. With many languages, perspectives, and cultures, it’s easy to lose something in translation. Over email and chat, doubly so. Until we get a perpetual empathy machine, don’t assume malice.
A distributed Elastic makes for a diverse Elastic, which makes for a better Elastic.
That idea, says Karen, is manifested in a new practice called “Respect the Pause, and Pause and Explain.” It describes an approach to dealing with awkward interactions around the topic of DEI that can be partially attributed to cultural differences, and gives employees a procedure for exploring those topics while still assuming positive intent.
Karen is also leveraging ERGs to better support employees around the globe, including efforts to offer more expansive options for self-identification and ensuring that every ERG has cross-regional representation and diverse executive sponsorship.
Commitment to Evolution
Elastic hosts an annual global conference called Elasticon. At the last two events, Karen was pleased to see managers around the globe talking about managing within a DEI framework, unprompted.
“Before it was always HR talking about it, and now I’ve seen more leadership and senior management incorporating this into their day-to-day,” she says. “Employees are asking more, and the asks are more complex and they’re more frequent, which is great.”
Karen and her HR peers know that Elastic isn’t done addressing DEI—they’re just getting started.
But she’s excited to keep building.
“We’ve got a long way to go. We have some managers who are already doing this, and others that aren’t yet, that say, ‘Oh, I don’t have time for that,’” she says. “But it’s our position that you have to make time, because we cannot achieve the performance that we desire without incorporating this into everything we say and do.”
💎 Prepare for your job interview at Elastic with these key tips from the company’s recruiters!
📼 If you’re looking to apply for an open job at Elastic, watch this video to get useful advice that will help you get through the interview process at the company. You’ll meet Roxy Wolfe, Senior Recruiter, and Jacqueline Mills, Recruiter at Elastic, who will go over the company’s application and interview process, and tell you about Elastic’s culture and values, as well as how to best prepare for the interview process.
📼 Does a job at Elastic always require a technical background? First things first: as Roxy explains, when applying to a software company, there’s this common misconception that you need a technical background just to get your foot in the door. That just simply isn’t the case at Elastic. What they’re looking at is the person from a whole holistic view. Does this person have the transferable soft skills to do well and deliver results quickly in this role? So when the recruiter starts asking, are you a team player? Do you deliver results? You can give some STAR method answers and tangible examples of how you meet the responsibilities and the requirements of the role.
📼 When you apply for a job at Elastic, the STAR method is a key tool you can use. The STAR method will make sure that your answers give the interviewer a clear and concise idea of your experience. The STAR method consists of clearly outlining the situation you handled, the task that you were given, the action you took, and the result, or the outcome, of that situation. And a great way to add to that is to give your best learning lesson from said situation.
Show Up As Your Best To The Job Interview At Elastic
The best way to show up to an interview is to just simply be prepared. Show the interviewer you did your research! Not only you should know what the company does, who their competitors are, but also what's really driving you and motivating you to go through this interview process. In Roxy’s words: “I think it's awesome when a candidate’s taken the time to look at our social media, maybe they've read a few blog posts, maybe they've read a few of our cases on our website to see how our clients are using our products. This is gonna show the interviewer not only that you took the time to prepare, but that you're passionate about the role, and about Elastic as a company, as well.”
🧑💼 Are you interested in joining Elastic? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get To Know Roxy and Jackie
Roxy is a human resources professional with experience in Performance Management, Data Analytics, Project Management, Client Service, Training & Development, Marketing Campaigns, Meeting Planning, Social Media, Full Life Cycle Recruiting, University Relations, Event Management, Intern Program Management, Talent Management and Talent and Recruiting Analytics. Jackie is an experienced Recruiting Professional with a passion for providing an exemplary candidate experience at Amazon. BSBA and concentration in Human Resource Management from Bryant University. If you are interested in a career at Elastic, you can connect with her on LinkedIn!
More About Elastic
They're the company behind the Elastic Stack — that's Elasticsearch, Kibana, Beats, and Logstash. From stock quotes to Twitter streams, Apache logs to WordPress blogs, they help people explore and analyze their data differently using the power of search. Thousands of organizations worldwide, including Cisco, eBay, Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, The Mayo Clinic, NASA, The New York Times, Wikipedia, and Verizon, use Elastic to power mission-critical systems.