In February 2016, I was grateful to move from one dream job to another. I left Hiring Our Heroes as the Senior Director of Operations in Washington, D.C. to join Starbucks Global Social Impact team in Seattle, Washington. There I had the opportunity to develop and grow a civic engagement program and oversee the Veteran and Military Affair and Community Service Initiatives. And as the daughter of a retired Deputy Chief of Police, I was proud to also launch the Coffee with a Cop program across hundreds of stores nationwide, strengthening relationships with partners (employees), customers and local law enforcement officers.
After living in Seattle a short time I met my husband, a Marine Corps Veteran, and we were married the next year. Soon thereafter we began the adoption process and to our heart's delight, our son was born just six months later creating the family we had dreamed of. While driving by my church I realized it would be harder to say goodbye to my son every morning, than to say goodbye to my colleagues. Thus, my career break began.
During the summer of 2020, Elizabeth O'Brien (Liz), my former colleague from Hiring Our Heroes, was traveling through Washington. We jumped at the chance to connect and while on a hike, she asked if I would consider standing up a public affairs strategy for a dynamic new company - Freedom Learning Group (FLG). And did I mention it would be a remote position? I didn't even hesitate. I was eager to work for Liz who had been hired as the CEO months prior and to join her on a very important mission once again - to connect Military Spouses, Veterans and displaced professional women with remote work.
I have been with FLG for about a year and a half and am grateful for the opportunity to contribute professionally, while being able to enjoy my family and homeschool my son.
We caught up with Jennifer to dive a little deeper into her relaunch story and the advice she has for other relaunchers...
How did you decide that it was more important to take a career break than keep working when you adopted your son?
I was at Starbucks at the time, and they have a really wonderful leave program and are very supportive of adoption. Financially, time off … you get the same leave as birth parents.
But, when the time came to return to work, I had a meeting at headquarters in Virginia. and my boss was telling me all these things that she was excited to have me take on when I came back after the first of the year. And I just felt just so heavy about it.
My husband and I talked, and he asked what I was going to do. He really wanted me to decide and feel comfortable with my decision. I was driving home past my church, and I thought, you know what? I either have to say goodbye to Elijah every morning, or I say goodbye to my professional peers once. And it became abundantly clear that this birth mom had given us this baby to raise – not a caregiver, not a childcare facility or a nanny.
I really felt compelled to honor the commitment I made to her. So I decided to stay at home, and I loved every minute.
How did this new job opportunity come about and what made you decide this was the right time to relaunch?
My friend Elizabeth O’Brien had just started as the CEO at FLG. Liz and her family were on a cross-country trip and visited with us in Washington. While we were on a hike, Liz said, “what do you think about doing some consulting?” I asked, "What do you have in mind? Can I consult during naptime and bedtime?" And she said, "I could use your help to build brand recognition to attract customers and talent."
I felt having been out of work for two years, I had to dust the cobwebs off a little bit. I had no background in instructional design, but I learned. Everything was on the Google platform (Google Chat, Google Docs) and even though it’s intuitive, I was unfamiliar with it. But I definitely had to ramp up in terms of rigor and deliverables. I had to adapt to new technology.
And it has been really fun to apply everything I've learned at Hiring our Heroes and Starbucks to this new role and an environment that was really just gracious and supportive and genuine in their work.
What tips would you like to share with relaunchers as they consider career reentry?
There's a new way of working these days, and there are so many new opportunities to work remote. And I would also like to encourage relaunchers to fearlessly consider a career pivot. There are so many fantastic training programs out there now. It's an exciting time to go back to work. There are 11 million job openings in this country right now.
There are new ways to work, new pathways to exciting industries that will meet you where you are. There are new ways to connect. New ways to grow your career. Be open-minded and consider all the exciting possibilities.
About Freedom Learning Group
Founded by a Military family, Freedom Learning Group is the leading educational courseware, content, and services provider powered by a global remote workforce of Military Spouses & Veterans.
Freedom Learning Group (FLG) entered the educational courseware industry in 2017 with a cutting-edge business model intentionally designed to fit the needs of Military Spouses and Veterans while keeping them competitive in their respective professional fields.
FLG specializes in educational content development, instructional design, assessment writing, accessibility compliance, ADA accessibility, accuracy review, subject matter expertise, e-Learning, audio-video services, copy editing, and project management.
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