December 3, 2021

Celebrating National Family and Caregivers Month with Jessica George

Jessica George, Senior Implementation and Training Specialist for Milady, our beauty and wellness education brand, recently took over the Cengage Group LinkedIn to share insight into how she finds balance between her career and responsibilities as a parent.

Jessica, who has been a part of the Milady team for two years, explains that “the biggest challenge I face is choosing what is best for my family, and what is best for my career growth. Over the years, there have been moments I decided to put my career path first, and my relationship and commitment to my family suffered. And other times that I prioritized my family, it slowed my career progression. Each time, thankfully, it felt right. However, I've found the most success and fulfillment when both family and career were balanced in perfect harmony – although that isn’t always easy to do.”

She goes on to explain that “raising children teaches you the unimaginable – I have become quite the multitasker. In a single day I could be juggling getting to basketball practice after the gym, finishing up a home improvement project, grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions for my aunt, and checking math homework. I seem to flex those same skills when attending four back-to-back Zoom meetings and completing a project in between answering emails, all before a live presentation.”

Read on to hear more from Jessica about her career journey balancing her work life with being a mother and wife.

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How our culture supports parents and caregivers

“Being a part of Cengage Group has been so rewarding for me, not only as a professional, but as a parent, a wife, and as a person. What resonates most for me was the outpouring of support from our company leadership and the Milady team when the pandemic necessitated homeschooling for my daughter. The compassion, understanding, and offerings of support were so heartwarming. The culture here is extremely caring, and that doesn't change when the pressures of the business rise during a pandemic. I remember leaders and employees reaching out to ask, ‘is there anything I can do for you today?’ as I balanced meeting customer needs and the needs of my household at the same time. My days may have looked different a year ago from today, but what remains consistent is the heart of our company culture.”

Advice for working parents

“The best piece of advice I have for other working parents or soon-to-be parents is to take it one day at a time. Just one.”

“It is easy to get ahead of yourself and think, will things always be this way or what will things look like five years from now? Sure, there are things in life we have to plan for, but give yourself grace with decisions around your career, where you are, and where you are headed. Appreciate the moment and all the beautiful experiences that are here now. What do you value at this moment? If you asked me ten years ago, you'd find a mother of a 2-year-old trying to figure out life and how to balance it all. I had big dreams, major dreams to move abroad and present on stages in front of hundreds of people and I was defeated to think I could never make that dream come true while being a good mother. I may not be living my dream abroad, but I’m still living a dream that - well frankly, I couldn't have even planned. I believe everything happens exactly how it is supposed to be.”

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Making sacrifices and navigating feelings of guilt

“Working parents often make sacrifices in both their personal and professional lives, I navigate this by taking a step back and asking myself two questions: How will this decision affect me and how will this decision affect my family?

In order to release my sense of emotional guilt when making decisions around sacrifices, my husband and I have made it common practice in our house to write out a pros and cons list. At the end of the piece of paper, we write how the opportunity makes us feel (anxious, ecstatic, precarious, fearful, etc.). I used to feel guilty when I had to let my team know that I had a family commitment. I would stay late at work and continue the work when I got home to avoid the feeling of guilt. When the pressure I put on myself to be the perfect employee and perfect mother became too much, I learned to start giving myself grace. The list that my husband and I make helps us determine the best decision for us and our family while still taking our feelings into consideration. It minimizes the feelings of guilt for me and puts into perspective the positives or negatives that would impact me.

I’m grateful to work with and for people who make it easy to balance being a good employee and mom.”

Introducing our new Parents & Caregivers Employee Resource Group

This month we launched our new Parents & Caregivers Employee Resource Group (ERG), sponsored by Sandra B., Vice President and General Manager of Milady, and co-lead by Jessica G., Senior Implementation & Training Specialist at Milady, Sarah K., Associate Product Manager, and Brock S., Technical Content Support Specialist.

Jessica George: “I felt pulled to be part of the development to bring this ERG to fruition. In retrospect, I do think my career journey would have felt smoother at times having an ERG that provided me with access to resources and to support feelings I burdened myself with as I navigated the waters of mapping my career. Identifying as a parent and/or caregiver has incredible reach, it plays a huge role in how you show up as a professional. I see this group sharing perspectives from infant parents to caregivers of an elder parent. We all have different experiences to share, resources to pass along, and encouragement to lend to each other. However, there is one shared experience, being a professional. Cultivating a community around the balance as a professional and a caregiver helps us all show up as our best selves.”

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