I’m a Mother of 6: Here’s How I Returned to Work and Then Transitioned to Working Remotely

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Grace P

Photo courtesy of Facebook.

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May 23, 2024 at 1:6PM UTC

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Grace P.’s career change story begins on a farm in Florida, where she was a stay-at-home mom caring for six children and over 100 farm animals. Her husband was a high school teacher who, although he loved his job, knew that he needed to go into administration to make a career out of his job.

Because of that, Grace and her husband traded places, and Grace decided to re-enter the workforce. Using her Ph.D in earth and planetary science, as well as online classes to become certified as a data scientist, Grace started a career in the data science field. Eventually, this led her to Facebook, where she was surprised to find a community of people with unique backgrounds — just like her!

“During the interview, I was blown away by how much more diverse the people and the experiences were than I originally thought,” Grace notes. “Now that I’m here, I am really impressed by the diversity groups and how basically any group of people you're interested in meeting you could meet.”

As a data scientist, Grace’s work involves people all over the world, and she emphasizes the importance of having coworkers with a variety of viewpoints and backgrounds to “help us make a better product that's more relevant to the right people.”

“There's so many things we don't think about that might be important to somebody else's world view. I’ve never lived outside the U.S,” she says. “I find this really eye opening how different people's experiences can be and yet how similar we all are.”

This group of diverse people forms the tight-knit community at Facebook, with Grace pointing out that, “This work environment really helps make friends. We're beyond coworkers.” “I've also never experienced a company as thoughtful as Facebook,” says Grace. “There are just so many little ways people look out for each other as we work together.” 

And this is not the end of Grace’s career changes! During the pandemic, Grace had to transition to working from home. “As a mother of six homeschooled children, home was the last place that I ever wanted to work,” Grace says.

However, Facebook helped in this transition, with Grace explaining that, “Facebook recognized that people were facing different challenges and has gone out of their way to support employees during this time.”

As a working mother, Facebook’s flexible working policy is incredibly helpful, since they believe that as long as employees are able to get work done, they have the freedom to attend events, doctor appointments, commute during off hours, care for their children and whatever else they need to do.

For Grace, Facebook has also helped her stay connected with coworkers. “Anybody can connect to anyone else at this company,” she says. “So I got involved with a moms' group and I met people within other parts of the company. I help support those who are coming back from maternity leave. They're from all over the country and levels in the company.”

Grace working at home. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

Now, Grace is an expert in career pivots and finding balance between your career and home life. She sat down with Fairygodboss to share her best advice, how Facebook supports working mothers and more...

What's your best advice for other women looking to make career changes/pivots?

I advise people to first reflect on what they loved and loathed about their previous experiences; what types of work did they most enjoy and feel good about, and what did other people compliment them on. The work that feels easy, but gets results and respect, is a strength and should form a keyword when searching through job listings. As they read through job postings, they should think about how well each one describes them and the work that they enjoy, as well as what words and phrases in the posting resonate with them and help them see themself in this job.

Then, they should consider where in their life they have demonstrated each of those words and phrases. It might be in a different role or career, in school, in volunteer work or in their life experience. Those are the things that should be included in their resume so that when a recruiter looks at it, they can also see this person in this job.  

How do you balance your work and home life in your current day-to-day life?

I never worked from home pre-pandemic. Home was for family and the office was for working.  Like all humans, I can only concentrate on one thing at a time, and the different environments helped me keep focused on my different priorities.

The first day of recommended work from home was a Friday, and it was a disaster. We spent the weekend moving furniture so that I could have a desk in a room with a door that I could close. Over time, we developed a healthy rhythm of work hours and family time. I do like that family time now also includes breakfast and lunch, but I miss being able to take a walk outside to think over a problem without a zillion interruptions between desk and door.

Why do you think Facebook is a particularly great place to be a working mom?

The company really tries to be super inclusive and removes barriers to people doing the best work of their careers. A few ways that they support working moms are:

  • Manager expectations. A large part of manager performance is how they do on Pulse, the bi-annual employee survey. There is also a list of expected manager behaviors that includes "show care," so managers can be penalized or let go for not cultivating an inclusive, welcoming space for their reports.  

  • The freedom to choose teams. If you are not hired by a specific team (pre-allocated), you get to go through team selection after the three-weeks of onboarding classes. I loved team selection because I got to meet with several teams (basically interviewing the managers and team members) and choose the one that I felt most passionate about.  In general, Facebook’s work culture is based on the idea that every person should work on an area that is a strength for them, where a strength is something that energizes you.   So there is a lot of freedom to choose your own team and projects and the flexibility to change teams. Internal transfers are very simple to do and can be done as often as every 12 months.

  • Parent benefits. How the company cares about their employees in a holistic way continually boggles my mind. There are perks and benefits that are aimed at solving problems outside of work that might keep you from doing your best work. I started at Facebook when my youngest was three, so I haven't taken advantage of all of the benefits, like the six-months maternity leave (four-months paid parental leave), stocked Mother's Rooms in every building (and every major offsite event) for pumping, or the child-care benefits (my husband is a stay-at-home dad.) But, pre-COVID-19, I was the facilitator for two different circles of women who had babies/toddlers at the same age to meet during the workday for fellowship and support.

  • Work-life balance. For me, it's more about work-life balance and my kids not feeling resentful of my work. Overall, I have been surprised how easy it is to have a good work-life balance here at FB. One of the first things I noticed was that the commuter shuttles that most people took to work were clearly optimized around a 9-5 (+/- 2) schedule. Most meetings are scheduled between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. It is up to each individual, though, to set their own schedule and maintain their own boundaries.  Since the mandatory work from home started, people's schedules have diverged even further, but at 6:00 p.m., I walk away from my desk and don't feel guilty at all.

  • An understanding culture. During my interviews, the recruiter called me to let me know that my screening interviewer was changing because the original interviewer's kid was sick, and she was staying home with him today. What amazed me was that there was ZERO irritation in her voice. At this company, it was totally normal and accepted for a parent to work from home with a sick kid. During work-from-home, it seems like everyone has gotten used to interruptions from kids and pets, and it's not a big deal. One of my teammates is working a split schedule where he only takes meetings in the a.m. to care for his daughters in the afternoon and does his individual work after they are in bed. There's a recognition that people want to be successful and should be empowered to work however is best for their situation


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