As exciting as navigating your career journey can be, there can be challenges to developing new skills and finding passion in your industry.
Now imagine feeling good about your career trajectory, and then learning your whole world is about to change in a few short months.
Parenthood is a crazy time for both mothers and fathers – working and not. There’s a steep learning curve that you can only overcome by simply getting through it. It’s a lot to process for any new parent, but can be especially hard for those trying to maintain and grow their career.
For Jamie Folkner, Director of Product Marketing, Inventory Solutions at Cox Automotive, her experience as a first-time working-mom was a time for simply figuring out how to be just that…a mom.
“I distinctly remember when I was pregnant with my first that I wasn’t in a place to explore opportunities.” Jamie says, “I was focused on becoming a mom and felt like I had to intentionally let my career be put on hold.”
After the birth of her first son, Henry, Jamie was overwhelmed by the experience, like many first-time parents. Navigating a newborns schedule, breastfeeding and simply being present in the space she was in was a struggle.
“Within the first two weeks of leave I missed working,” she reflects “It was all so hard in the beginning that I actually thought working would be easier. But by the end of my leave, I was in mom-mode and not ready to return to work.”
After returning to work, Jamie remembered that the first one-on-one with her boss was so refreshing. “Having engaging, adult conversations was such a nice change.”
It was just after the start of the pandemic that Jamie realized that she needed a new support system for her working/parenting life. Believing it would be a benefit to other working parents across Cox, Jamie created a resource group for parents to connect and provide support to one another.
“Parents everywhere were trying to figure out how to navigate working and taking care of their children through the pandemic. It was our new normal and what I needed was an outlet to talk to other people in a similar situation and share tips,” she said.
The support group blossomed, connecting many parents with one another – building a community of coworkers seeking to help one another. But it wasn’t just about parenting.
“We stood up a section of the group regarding caring for elderly parents or any sick loved ones,” she remembered “People were experiencing unprecedented things during that time, so it made sense to expand to be more inclusive.”
Jamie credits several leaders for joining the group and breaking down barriers to be vulnerable through their stories of challenge and grief. “It was amazing to just connect and heal through such difficult times,” she said.
In 2021, while pregnant with her second baby, Jamie decided to bet on herself and progress her career. While she felt unable to seek opportunities during her first pregnancy, her confidence as a mother propelled her to advance her career despite being pregnant – which can be intimidating for many women.
“With my second baby, I felt confident being a working mom. I didn’t want to hold myself back, but once I was interviewing, I was unsure how to disclose my pregnancy,” she stated. “My mentor had hired someone while she was pregnant and coached me through the process. And truly, the right leaders won’t bat an eye – if you’re the right candidate, they will make it work.”
Despite starting her new role mere weeks before delivering her second son, Ben, Jamie knew she was making the right choice.
“It can be scary, but exploring career moves while pregnant is a great idea. It really allows you to see the character of the people you’d be working for."
In fact, being a working mom at Cox allowed Jamie to transfer new skills from motherhood to the workplace. She is more intentional with her time, increasing her efficiency and working smarter to benefit both her work team and her home team.
Jamie reflected, “I think being a mother has made me a more empathetic leader.”
Jamie’s transition from career-women to mom to working-mom is one many can relate to – mother or father. It is a balancing act that only the individual can sort out, but you don’t have to do it alone.
“Give yourself some grace,” Jamie says, “This transition is hard. It’s okay to be transparent about what you’re going through and experiencing.”