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To Tell or Not to Tell… Part II

April 11, 2010

The end of our story that you’ve all been waiting for… how did it all turn out for our student mother?!?  Read on to find out!

The rest of the recruiting process went very much as it did for those that weren’t pregnant.  I was frustrated when companies I thought knew me really well denied me an interview invite in GTS.  I was shocked when other organizations expressed what seemed like unsolicited interest.  I bid… I interviewed… I was rejected… I bid… I interviewed some more… rejected some more.   I suppose the only real key difference between me and most of my classmates was the little prayer I said each morning before trying to button my suit over my expanding middle.

Not only was I keeping my pregnancy a secret from companies, but just about everyone else.  Some Booth classmates were here helping to recruit for former employers and I was uncomfortable with my pregnancy becoming public knowledge.  I was also worried some would be frustrated that I was taking interviews when perhaps I wouldn’t be able to do the internship.  Maybe I didn’t give people enough credit, I just didn’t know what to expect since my situation seemed so uncommon.  Sometimes I longed to tell people, just to hear another perspective on what I should do.  To keep from forgetting who knew and who didn’t – I didn’t even tell friends outside of Booth.  Luckily this was my second baby – keeping that first baby a secret would have been brutal.

After weeks of failure, things seemed to start going really well.  I was wait-listed for an offer with one company for a general management rotational program.  I was really excited about an invitation to interview with a second company (ironically, a beer company) for a strategy role, and I’d received a number of invites from a third company for internships that fit my experience and interests well. Things were about to get exciting.  I was hardly sleeping at this point – knowing that all of my efforts and emotional investment could be for naught.  Unlike everyone else in the pack, an offer wasn’t my end-game.  If I was lucky enough to get one – there was still an uncomfortable negotiation that stood between me and an internship.  My husband was there assuring me that whatever happened I would be just fine.  He was convinced (and probably correctly) that an internship wasn’t as critical to my future as I believed it to be.

I attended a pre-interview event with the beer company, my leading choice.  They openly state that “passion for beer” is important.  I wasn’t drinking because of the pregnancy.  It was killing me.  I’m a beer LOVER.  I wanted them to know that, but didn’t know what to do.  Should I hold a beer and pretend to drink it?  What if I do get an offer and they remember that the pregnant lady was drinking?  Do I just have lemonade and pretend I’m not the sort of person who has sampled every kind of beer on as many continents as possible?  I went with a third option: drink non-alcoholic beer.  Now if that doesn’t demonstrate love for beer, I don’t know what does.  That stuff isn’t quite like the real thing.

The next day was the interview.  I wasn’t convinced it went that well, but when my cell phone rang a few days later in the middle of Accounting class I couldn’t believe my ears.  I had the offer!  I decided to savor the accomplishment for a little bit before telling them my “secret.”  Within 5 minutes of hanging up the stress hit.  How sad would it be if this job I’d gotten so psyched about fell through?  I plotted with friends and family over exactly what to do.  I went through with other scheduled interviews the next day, but decided to tell the company with the offer about my situation right away.  If they agreed to work with me, that would be it.  I would stop the process with other companies immediately, regardless of my level of interest.  I didn’t think it was fair to get one group to be flexible, only to reject them two weeks later for another opportunity. Besides, it seemed remote that all of the stars would align twice –multiple offers and multiple willing employers just didn’t seem possible when I’d prepared myself for the possibility of no offers at all.

I hatched a plan to take evening/weekend classes in the spring quarter so I could start an internship early.  Alternatively, I was willing to start work in June and then have the baby, returning to work a few weeks after it was born.  My approach was to call the hiring manager and outline some of the options I felt were on the table.  When I called it all went very well.  As a matter of fact, my future manager agreed rather quickly to have me start early, pending what he felt was certain approval from HR.  This guy gets manager of the year and I’ve never even worked for him!

What happened next was a sort of freefall.  The stress and worry and chaos were over.  For a couple of days I experienced a full-body weirdness – sort of like the ringing in your ears after you walk out of a loud concert into silence –except all over.   Life went from 90 MPH to 10.  How had I managed to pull this off?  I was going to get to have my internship, my baby, and a couple of months off before school started again in September.  I’m sure I’ll be rather tired from May 3rd until finals are over, but in the end it will all be worth it.

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