Job-hunting and virtual learning: One single mother questions how to do both

Updated: Aug. 18, 2020 at 4:32 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Job-hunting can already be a hassle, but keeping the kids on track with distance learning adds to the challenge.

“Her going school was my opportunity to go out and get back to work,” said Baton Rouge area parent, Denise Richardson. “And unfortunately, with the pandemic and her school, I’m unable to do so.”

Richardson is a mom to her 5-year-old daughter first, and a job-hunter second. She has been out of work for a while now and wants to go back, but she feels torn.

Who is going to help her kindergartner with virtual schoolwork?

“My issue is not having anyone to be at home with my daughter and me having to be here all day with her doing schooling,” said Richardson.

She knows the jobs are out there, but also knows her daughter needs help navigating the schooling apps on her iPad.

“I’ve looked for jobs, but I’m scared to even put the application in because I know the interview is going to be some time during the day,” she said.

As a single mother, she feels left out of the back-to-school conversation. She gets some help from her family, but the pandemic makes things more difficult.

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She looks for resources to help her balance job-hunting and virtual learning.

“[Are] there any suggestions for us? Is there anything we can do?” asked Richardson.

The YMCA’s distance learning program is one option. In this program, staff watch and help students in pre-k through 8th grade complete online school assignments. Students are able to work with access to WiFi under adult supervision. Snacks are provided. Students’ work spaces are enclosed by a tri-fold board.

“Your child is here. They’re able to participate in their school work. They’re safe, they’re being taken care of, which allows a parent to go to their job or to go look for a job,” said Christian Engle, president and CEO of YMCA of the Capital Area.

Engle also says the program is expanding. The program is offered at the A. C. Lewis, Americana and C. B. Pennington Jr. YMCA locations. Parents can register their children now. The program hours extend Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Registration may be fully booked in some locations, like at the A.C. Lewis YMCA, as the facility keeps numbers at or below COVID-19 safety guidelines for social distancing. Engle encourages families to check back often for more availability.

This is a resource that human resources director for Emergent Method, Rachel Carroccio, likes to suggest to her employees as well. As a working mom, she knows it’s tough.

“Being a mom and then being an employee, it’s totally blurred and blended during this time,” said Carroccio.

She also recommends to find babysitting help and The Mom Project to connect job seekers with mom-friendly workplaces.

Carroccio knows the immediate goal for parents like Richardson is to get your foot in the door, but the best outcome is to find a workplace that understands your situation.

She says just be honest with a potential future employer.

“It’s going to do you more good than harm to be forthcoming with that,” said Carroccio.

She says when you get the interview, don’t be afraid to ask questions to see if there’s flexibility for your parenting needs. She lists some questions you may want to ask an interviewer to better understand a company’s values:

  • How has your company responded to COVID-19?
  • How has workplace flexibility worked out for your employees?
  • Do you think your employees are happy with the way you have responded?

Even doing some research on a company or a possible future employer can help you too. Carroccio says some previous awards, such as Best Places to Work, may be an indicator of a company’s workplace behavior.

For more back-to-work, interview, and resume help, click here.

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