Last week, I had an opportunity to volunteer at Girls Learning Code here at Vancouver that was held at Clio. It was such an amazing and inspiring day seeing how enthusiastic the girls (the future developers) were learning how to program a game using Scratch and at the same time learning that there are software companies who supports “Work-Life Balance” and “Women in Tech Industry”.
One of the hosts gave us the tour in the company telling us about what they do and showing us the spacious cool office they have, and the growing number of women in the company. Before that day, I didn’t really give that much of thought the importance of Women in Tech because back in my previous company (on the other side of the world) I had a male Superior who was an advocate of hiring more women in the industry and at the same time the company had also a number of women who have leadership roles or in a higher position. Yeah, back then only a few women would go to the engineering industry, but that’s no longer the case now. Also being on that tour makes me drool to be back in the industry. They have an awesome office that would make an employee chill as I would have imagined.
Then I began to think an important question, “How many TechMoms are out there?”. In my previous company not that many and I even had colleagues who decided to stop working or requested to transfer to support team to spend more time at home taking care of their little ones. That is because working in a software engineering industry is very challenging having those peak season and a few down time. Like in extreme cases your life is like 80-20, 80% at the office and only 20% outside the office that is to go home take a nap, shower and go back to the office by 9:00am. Although time is changing companies are promoting “Work-Life Balance”, but unfortunately for me last time I was there 2 years ago, that was not real. And that is one of the reasons I left the industry, working may be good for our family financially and give me technical challenges but not doing well for our kid’s well-being since both my husband and I are working in the same industry.
At that time like other mothers I faced the dreaded question, “Am I willing to put my career on hold or give it up for my child?”. Well let’s face it is a default responsibility that will fall to the wife as our society dictates it since before, but now thankfully slowly changing. For most of us, it’s a tough choice having those years building up our career and accomplish so much but suddenly give it up because someone in the family needs to take care of the kid. It took me a year to finally accept on giving up my career, after taking into consideration the risk factor of someday we will lose our trusted nanny who is taking care of our kid. And it took me another year to embrace that fact I no longer have 9:00AM-6:00PM work but a 24/7 responsibility to do.
Feeling sorry for myself, that I don’t have my “own” money or I don’t contribute to financially to the family and at the back of my head I’m always reminded I’m spending from my husband’s hard earned money, it was emotionally and mentally degrading. (I know, I’m very harsh on myself, but that’s reality.) Or missing solving problems that will crack your brains out and have that sense of achievement solving it at the end of the day. In the days that I have these thoughts, I would then tell myself, that’s ok, spending time and being a direct influence for my kid is far more important than money and career because it will not be long it will be time to venture out to the world and as any parent would do prepare their kids to face the world strong. The struggle is too much real dealing those thoughts.
After much consideration (knowing that my kid is big enough to understand me going back to work) and doing some more research that there is really a thing called “Work-Life Balance” on this side of the world of Software Engineering, it encouraged me to put back my career back on track. Now, I laid out my career plan full-steam ahead upgrading my skills by learning new technologies and practicing for an interview (because it has been awhile since my last interview). I am also determined to go back after all these years because after all being a full-time mom teaches us valuable skills that are also important in the industry, like:
- Having patience and attention to details on the task at hand.
- Great problem-solving skills in everyday challenges.
- Always thinking outside of the box and comes up with creative ideas.
- Working well under extreme pressure, with all the physical and mental noise around.
- Still fully functional while everyone is tired and down.
So Moms don’t feel discouraged or sad we still have a chance to have a career back, this is just a few years set back. We can do anything and overcome the great challenges of a mother. And now I cross my fingers because Vancouver here I come!