It's working for Jennifer Gefsky
New York, NY
"The number one piece of advice I would give would be to seek out a female mentor at work who has been there, done that. To have a fellow working mom mentor in your office will help you keep your sanity. "
Jennifer Gefsky is the Co-Founder of Après, the recruitment and job search site created specifically for women returning to the workforce. In addition to listing positions from companies who have pledged to hire from this accomplished re-entering database, Après provides coaching to its job seekers.
Empowering women heading back into the workforce is Gefsky’s mission, and she shared with the It’s Working Project advice learned through her own journey back to work. She is a mother of three who took a seven year hiatus to focus on family and is now ramping back at top speed in founding her own company. Thus, Gefsky knows first-hand that the back to work story is not always what a parent expects. Her motto? “Don’t be afraid to fail, be afraid to not try.”
WHAT IS THE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU WISH YOU COULD OFFER YOUR FORMER EXPECTANT SELF?
The number one piece of advice I would give to myself when I was a new mother would be to seek out a female mentor at work who has been there, done that. To have a fellow working mom mentor in your office will help you keep your sanity. I didn’t seek out a female mentor after I had my first child and I regret it. I know now that having such a mentor is essential to help advise new moms on the difficult issues that may arise both personally and professionally.
WHAT WAS YOUR PRIMARY MOTIVATION FOR DECIDING TO RETURN (OR NOT) TO WORK AFTER YOUR FIRST CHILD WAS BORN?
To be honest, I went back to work after my first child was born because I loved my job. I never thought in a million years I would ever stop working or opt out out of the workforce. But after we had our second child, it was so hard. The commute, the coordination, the stress. I found it impossible to balance it all. Sometimes opting out for a while seems the natural way to go. Looking back, I wish that I had maybe explored more creative, alternative options. But at the time, it was the right decision. I returned to work last year, launching Après, after being out of the work force for seven years.
WHAT IS YOUR BEST PIECE OF ADVICE FOR MOTHERS RETURNING TO WORK?
Join our site, naturally! Take your time and prepare yourself for this transition, emotionally and logistically. Be realistic and make sure you are ready to go back. When updating your résumé be aware that the landscape of what résumés look like and include may have changed. Definitely utilize LinkedIn, posting articles there that are relevant to your industry. Ensure that your other social media sites contain content that you would like prospective employers to see, because they will see. Also, work your networks. Your personal networks — whether they are your fellow parents on the soccer sidelines, former colleagues or other friends and connections — are the best place to start your search for your return position. We started our company with our personal networks!
WHEN DID THE “NEW NORMAL” SET IN FOR YOU?
Maybe, honestly, my new normal did not happen until after my second child was born. You know how some parents say it is hardest going from two kids to three, or from one to two? I myself found it hardest going from no children to one. It was a complete change of lifestyle, and then I became pregnant with our second when our first was just one year old. Once our second child was around two or three, our new normal set in.
WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE GOING BACK TO WORK?
Since co-founding Après, my biggest challenge has been balancing family with the new business. The kids are definitely adjusting to me working and not being around as much, however the time I spend with them now is better quality time. I’m present and appreciative of the time, and I am so excited to see them in the evenings. And now that they are older [ages 12, 10 and five years], if I come home at seven sometimes they are not even back yet from sports and dance! They are really excited about me working and seeing me re-energized.
WHO WAS YOUR BIGGEST SOURCE OF SUPPORT IN RETURNING TO WORK?
That’s easy: my husband. We met in law school and he understands how important this work is to me, and how valuable. He is my biggest fan, and frankly, my going back to work hasn’t made his life easier! It’s a sacrifice for everybody.
AS A WORKING PARENT, A GOOD DAY IS WHEN…
I get home in time to have a nice relaxing dinner with my family.
AS A WORKING PARENT, A BAD DAY IS WHEN…
I come home stressed, I miss everything entirely and I don’t get to see my kids.
AS A WORKING PARENT, I NEVER EXPECTED __ WOULD BE SO HARD AND __ WOULD BE SO MUCH EASIER.
As a working parent, I never expected the need to say “no” to working all the time would be so hard; and I never expected that getting really excited and energized about working would be so easy.