Before I had kids, I never could have imagined how difficult it would be to try to build a career while parenting small children. As a very career-driven person, I also never anticipated the profound desire I would have to stay home with my children when they were young. This desire has often created a real tension for me, where I’ve felt a nagging pull between work and home. Luckily, I found a job situation that enables me to work mostly from home, and this has helped reduce that stress (while producing its own difficulties, to be sure). Let me say, too, that I absolutely think that all mothers have different needs and desires and should be able to decide their own direction post baby, though I realize this decision is a matter of privilege and that many do not have a choice. I strongly believe that America needs to do more—significantly more—to provide women and families support so that they can afford to take a (paid) leave of absence from work to bond with their new children, whether adopted, fostered, or biological. But because that is not our reality (yet), it makes sense for many women to leave traditional work situations while they have small children. Thankfully, this does not have to mean that they have to give up—or even hit pause on—their careers.
Enter The Second Shift, a job agency co-founded by Jenny Galluzzo and Gina Hadley. (This is one of the companies featured on my “Job Resources” page.) The Second Shift helps women find non-traditional or temporary work situations so that they are able to have more freedom to parent, care for a sick child or parent, travel frequently, or do whatever they need to do. It is not a re-engagement platform, or one that helps women move back into the workforce after taking time off from their careers. The job opportunities that it features are top notch because they cater to women who are experts in their respective field. So, note that to use this platform, you’re expected to have a minimum of 10 years of experience in your area, which may exclude younger moms who are just starting out on their career paths. Nonetheless, this service ensures that women who have worked very hard to attain an executive position do not need to step down from it in order to have the work-life situation that they need or want.
Recently, I talked with co-founder Jenny Galluzzo about how The Second Shift came into being, the challenges and joys of being a working mom, and the important mission her company has of encouraging gender equity and increasing support for moms in the workforce. I confess, it came at a time when I really needed someone to tell me: You can keep going; you can make this work—and it’s important for yourself and for the companies you work for to do so. I hope you will find this interview motivating and encouraging, regardless of what your work-life situation currently looks like!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Jenny Galluzzo, and I co-founded The Second Shift with Gina Hadley. The Second Shift is something that we needed for ourselves, but it didn’t exist at the time. I was a journalist for a really long time, and Gina was a marketer. We both needed to find a different way to work for different reasons. Her husband kept relocating, and every time she moved she needed to start over again at work. I was a journalist looking to leave the field. In 2014 we built a platform to solve for all these things—to help women identify the skills they have and find a work situation that was a better fit for them—and early on we saw the possibilities. In the first year, we tried to do it on our own—to find companies to work with women, but we didn’t know what kind of women and what kind of jobs we were really looking for. We refocused the search process to move beyond boundaries of job titles and to help women identify what skills they had that would be appealing to various businesses. This is important to us because we believe it is crucial to keep women going throughout different points in their lives, making the workplace more fluid and less binary. Currently, less than 5 percent of CEOs are women. We have a very high-talent member profile and a four-step vetting process. We encourage businesses to make changes to support these incredibly talented women and to benefit their organizational climate as well. We believe that companies that support these sort of project-based, part-time, or otherwise flexible work situations will thrive just as much as their employees.
What types of jobs will someone find on The Second Shift? Are there certain types of fields that are better represented than others?
The majority of jobs fall into three categories: HR, CFO, and market research. They are often maternity fills, or big projects with a start and end date (long-term and contract based), or quick turnaround projects, or ongoing part-time routine jobs (e.g., PR, interim COO, etc., where there’s a set amount of hours). We have moved into full-time roles, as well. We curate jobs: we take only really high-level jobs that we think we can fill. Our goal is to follow the life cycle of our members through their career journey. At least half of the jobs are remote. We are always pooling different markets and looking for new members.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about “work-life integration” instead of “work-life balance.” What are your thoughts on this?
I think that it’s trying to find a solution to an ultimately unsolvable balance. There’s really not a way to run everything perfectly smoothly. You just need to be more patient and more realistic and realize that every day is going to be a different setup and every year your children’s needs will change.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve heard or would give to a new mom trying to juggle work and parenting?
Think about the long game and just keep swimming. Don’t give up because it will get easier. There are resources that are available to help you. Even if you leave the workforce, keep networking. Keep up with every colleague you’ve ever known. Keep everything going, even if it’s just the smallest amount, because it will help you in the future.
Do you believe that women can “have it all”?
Yes. I don’t believe you can have it all all the time. You won’t be able to do everything perfectly all day every day. Some days you will be a perfect worker, some days you will be a perfect mother, and some days you will be neither. But go into each day with the expectation of trying, and if nothing else, you tried. Lead by example for your kids, colleagues, and partner—show that you are human and fallible but that both your work and your family are a priority.
Are you a woman who would like to take advantage of The Second Shift’s member services? Check out this page to learn more about how they facilitate the search and hiring process. Or, if your company is interested in sharing a job opportunity with this network, see this page.