When Laurie came to us with this idea for a blog post, we knew it would be something we wanted to share with our readers. Laurie has spent her career working in various roles of the sports business world. She worked at Kansas as an assistant sports information director, which is where she began her career. She also worked for the NCAA for nine years where her primary focus was in special events and publishing. Before joining CoSIDA’s national staff in 2014, she spent the previous five years as Director of Communications and Events for Premier Sports Management. So as you can see, with her broad range of experience Laurie has been not just an asset to the CoSIDA community, but personally to us here at Sparkles and Sports. Laurie’s ability to chase her dreams both personally and professionally are admirable.
When I interviewed for the job I have now with CoSIDA, by way of introduction to the folks who were doing the interviewing, I told them that I was the mother of a drama queen and a homecoming king.
It’s true. My daughter was a four-time state finalist on her high school speech team and in every musical and play. My son was named homecoming king his senior year.
It’s also true that I probably broke every rule of interviewing when I used that line. Who tells their prospective employer that the single most important job she’s ever had or ever will have was raising two kids?
I’ve been in the work force almost 30 years, and I’ve tap-danced around my dual roles as a professional and as a mother for much of that time. I’ve had bosses who had no interest in my life outside the cubicle and avoided asking me how my weekend was for fear I would launch into mommy speak. I’ve also had bosses who couldn’t wait to hear the play-by-play of my daughter’s speech competition or my son’s football game first thing Monday morning.
Being a mom – as amazing as it is – is not the only way I roll. With much respect for all my stay-at-home friends, I knew from an early age that was not for me.
I live by the motto: You can have it all – just not all at once. I’m not a perfect employee. I am far from a perfect mom. But I play to my strengths in both roles. Compromises were made. The kids didn’t get my attention 24/7, but when I was present, I was all in. I didn’t go for the job promotion I really wanted because it involved a lot of travel, but I have never worked just to work. My career has gone where I wanted it to go.
What have I learned? Too much for one blog. But I’d like to share a few practical tips I picked up along the way.
1. Think outside the box when looking for a job. When my kids were babies, I worked full time in an office and did some traveling. When my kids got to grade school, I found a job that allowed me flexibility so I could be there when they got home from school. When they hit high school, it was back to the office for me. I have worked in athletics or athletics communication all but seven years of my career. It can be done.
2. Gauge your boss and co-workers. Who’s interested in your family? Who’s more interested in happy hour? Make your interactions mesh with their interests if possible. Sometimes it’s exhausting, but it goes a long way toward fostering good working relationships.
3. Know that kids grow up and move on. You’re the center of their universe for a short time. If it’s worth it to you to be home with them, quit your job and be home with them. About the time they get their driver’s license, though, you’ll be in their rear-view mirror, so keep your skills sharp.
4. State what’s important up front. If it’s important that you leave work at 5 p.m. sharp when there isn’t a game, make sure your boss understands you will get the work done. I told a prospective boss that I had pick-up duty every Wednesday afternoon and high school football every Friday night. Those were deal-breakers for me. I got the job.
5. Be good to yourself. At the end of the day, know you did the best you could. Forgive yourself for not spending a certain amount of time with your kids, for missing an activity or school event. Work happens. Life happens. Make the most of what you have count. It helps to have a super-supportive significant other (shout out to Jeff) and great daycare!
6. Be true to you. I always knew I wanted to work in athletics. I also knew I wanted to raise good kids. I never hid those things from anyone. I had to make concessions from time to time, but I always knew who I was and what my strengths were.