‘My Company’s Culture Is Something I Used to Dream Of’ — Succeeding as a Single Mother at Google

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Claudia Zamora and family.

Photo courtesy of Google.

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“Balance for me means feeling both accomplished and at peace,” shares Claudia Zamora, a Legal Policy Specialist at Google who is also involved in their Latinx ERG.

However, even when you know what balance is, it can be challenging to achieve — especially for working mothers like Zamora. For instance, Zamora recalls that at previous jobs, “I was always rushing to try to pick up my son and always missing something that he had going on during his school day.” 

But, now, Zamora is better able to find work-life balance as a parent thanks to growing her career at Google. “My company’s culture is something I used to dream of,” remarks Zamora. “Now, I am able to block time off of my calendar to make sure that I am the one who picks him up from school every day, and I am able to shift work responsibilities around to make sure I am sitting front row at all his school activities — it's the best thing ever.”

Even returning to the office — a concept which saddened her son — was made better thanks to the flexibility and understanding that is a cornerstone of Google culture. For example, “Googlers are allowed to block off time on their calendar for commuting to and from the office,” shares Zamora, “these small things add up to valuable time in our lives.”

Beyond company culture, Zamora has also achieved balance through her own hard work and dedication. “I feel that I’ve achieved [balance] by finishing two degrees while simultaneously working and raising a little human, most of the time on my own,” she states. 

“I’ve also been able to provide my son with a very peaceful and happy home, which, a lot of the time, I didn’t get a chance to grow up in myself,” says Zamora. “I think it was expected of me to drop out of school once I got pregnant. It was normal behavior within my environment; both of my parents dropped out of middle school and came to America. But, in my case, I was the first in my family to pursue a college degree and, because I made the decision, I won’t be the last. I currently have cousins that are following in my footsteps, and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Here, Zamora reveals more about her life as a working parent at Google, how she finds balance and her #1 tip for working parents.

Paint a picture of a typical day for me. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up and the last thing you do before you go to sleep?

I start my day by saying good morning to my son! He’s always up right before me. 

Then, we both get ready, and I drop him off at school and head into the office. We have teams in different time zones, so the first thing I do at work is check my email to be sure everything is taken care of in a timely manner. Google’s new hybrid policy allows me to work three days in the office and two days remote. If I am not in meetings, I am at my desk, working closely with counsel.

After work, I’ll pick him up from school and our afternoons vary from day to day — sometimes we do a fun activity like laser tag or a trampoline park. 

The last thing I do before going to sleep is go over to him to say goodnight. We have this little saying we came up with when he was very young, and we say it back and forth to each other: “See you later, alligator, refrigerator, that’s wearing a respirator in a refrigerator!” 

Zamora with her son. Photo courtesy of Google.

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

Parents at Google are offered carer’s leave and unlimited sick leave in case our little ones are sick. The leave options we have are really great! I took carer’s leave during the pandemic when my son's school closed down and daycares were closed. That was such a huge weight lifted off my shoulders during such a stressful time. 

Also, I worked with six women who went on maternity leave during the pandemic, and one of those women received a promotion during that leave. She didn’t need to stress about missed opportunities because she decided to have a baby.

What’s one misconception you think exists around work-life balance today?

That it can’t be achieved! Set your boundaries — with yourself and especially with your employers.

At a previous job, my manager did not want to let me leave early after I received a phone call that my son was being rushed to the hospital. I let them know that no job would ever be more important than my son's life and I left. 

Balancing work and life was initially a struggle. There was a point in my Google career when I was thriving and had received a promotion, but I didn’t realize how it all impacted my son. As a single mom, I set the tone very early in our home so my son would have a safe space to discuss his needs and feelings. He pulled me aside one day and told me that I am always on my computer. It made me realize that while I will always strive to be great at work, I have to put that same energy into the relationship with my son.

Zamora at work. Photo courtesy of Google.

What’s your #1 tip for new moms who are navigating the delicate balance of working and mothering?

It’s okay to feel flustered and overwhelmed! We put our own “perfect” expectations on ourselves, but the reality is that, sometimes, we don't know what we’re doing — we're learning and growing with our children. I want all mothers to know that you can do anything you put your mind to, there is nothing stopping you.

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