How should a mother react to job opportunities that include traveling for work? My gut reaction is normally to stay home with my children and be a “good mother”. Traveling has always given me a healthy dose of fear and anxiety between the air travel, hotel stays, and being in unfamiliar areas. Add in separation from my children to the mix and you have the perfect recipe for a single mom to reject opportunities. Life changing opportunities. While my gut wants me to stay home, I cannot let fear and anxiety rule my world. How will I ever be able to make the most of my professional opportunities if I’m too afraid to try something new or step out of my comfort zone?
I am a mother and I have traveled to Hartford, Connecticut 4 times in just over 2 years for professional reasons. My first 2 trips were when I was finishing my degree and I was still married. My last 2 trips were as a working single mother. As a mother, especially as a single mother, most people think my family status is a reason to not travel for business, and I usually think it is too. I definitely have a good enough “excuse” if I don’t want to go, since my children are my highest priority. I like to think people have excellent intentions when they offer their understanding for my personal situation. I shouldn’t feel guilty to say no if I really need or want to say no. I am always curious, however, if those who believe motherhood is a good enough excuse to not travel professionally, also believe fatherhood is a good enough excuse to stay home from business trips.
As a young girl, I always told myself I was just as good as any boy at things like sports, math, etc. I never let my womanhood hold me back, and neither did my parents. I frequently felt the need to prove I was as good, if not better, by racing boys on the playground in elementary school, or making sure people knew I was top of my math classes. When I consider opportunities like traveling for work, I still to this day ask myself, how would I respond if I was a man or a father?
So in just over 2 years, I was given 4 opportunities to travel, and every single time when I asked myself “How would I respond if I was a man or father?” the answer was “Go!”. I strongly feel that it is my duty as a woman and a mother to take every single opportunity I am given. I intend to break all of the glass ceilings. I refuse to allow being a single mother to be a reason that my career becomes stagnant.
I have a supportive mother who is my biggest cheerleader. I have a very encouraging father. I have 2 older brothers who are both married to wonderful women. My children have their father, and his family. The support system I have tells me that if I can go, they will help care for my children while I am away. My support system tells me to “Go!”. Maybe not every parent has this same type of support system, but since I do, I should go!
Traveling for professional opportunities shows my children what it takes to have a successful and rewarding career. I am showing myself that being a woman and a single mother does not hold me back from career advancement opportunities. I am living the life I was always meant to live. I am a successful, happy woman, with children I adore. I cannot wait to see what opportunities await me. You can bet that I will take them when they come. Being a single mother does not exclude me from taking full advantage of opportunities, instead it gives me more drive to go after them.
I was offered an opportunity to travel for the 10th Anniversary Celebration dinner of EDGE. While in Hartford, I was stuck twice in a down pour, I met with WIAA (Women in Actuarial and Analytics) leaders for dinner, I met with other leaders across the company and stretched my networking, time management, and professional development skills. I scheduled all of my meetings (none were prepared for me ahead of time), and was given the opportunity to make as much as I could out of this trip. To top it off, about a week before my trip, I was called and asked to give a 1-2 minute talk at the celebration dinner in front of senior leaders and executives of the company as a representative of the first E in EDGE, Empowering. I finally started to get a sense for walking around in Hartford, and I look forward to going back again, now that I am more familiar with the area.
I was contacted as an alum of the EDGE program and offered to go out to Hartford to attend the Annual Shareholders Meeting. It was a precursor celebration of the 10th anniversary of the EDGE program. While in Hartford, I was able to attend professional development classes, meet with other EDGE alum across campuses, and had an opportunity to talk on camera with my fellow alum about the program.
I finished my internship and was in my last semester for my Bachelor’s degree when I was offered to return to Hartford, CT to speak on a panel and participate in the EDGE Symposium. The symposium was positioned between midterm exams and my scheduled sitting for SOA (Society of Actuaries) Exam FM. I knew I wouldn’t have enough time to study for Exam FM, but also knew it was a huge professional development opportunity. I ended up failing the exam, but a week later was contacted by a recruiter which led to accepting an offer in my current (non-actuarial/non-exam taking) role.
I was a 29 year old actuarial intern with a 4 and 6 year old about to go into my last semester of college when I was informed that I would have the opportunity to travel to Connecticut for a week during my internship. I was still married to my children’s father and I knew he would be able to care for them solo for a week, so I went.