Returning to re-enter the workforce can be difficult for both men and women if there’s a gap in your resume. The impact on women is worse. Many find, after having children and taking parental leave, gender bias undermining their potential for job opportunities.
In technology, the hardships can be even greater where skills must be continuously maintained in order to keep up. Taking maternity leave for 12 months or longer must not exclude women from the talent pool. New work programs should be instated so that women finding it difficult to return are supported either through corporate or government initiatives.
At MessageMedia, we support greater gender equality across the board. Recently, we took on new recruit Julia Meng, a young mother and Chinese immigrant who could not make inroads returning to her career as a developer. Today, we’re chatting to her about her experience restarting her work life at MessageMedia.
Tell me about yourself Julia
I was born and grew up in China. I worked as a lecturer at a university in Nanjing teaching information science, multimedia and computer science. About nine years ago, we emigrated to Australia. We were planning on children and we wanted to give our kids a better life and education. In China, it’s very tough on children because every parent wants their child to be a genius or the best. I feel like it is far more carefree and nurturing here in Australia. Plus my husband Harry, who also works at MessageMedia, loves the food!
Tell me about your partner Harry
After we had kids, I decided to stay at home because Harry was so busy at work. He’s done very well for himself, I’m so proud of him. He now works as a tech lead at MessageMedia where he makes sure products are built on time and rolled out. I’m so grateful that I now have a chance to work with him here too.
What prompted your return to the workforce
In the beginning, it was important that I stayed home to help raise the children. I still wanted to have a proper social life and pursue my professional career path, so I started to work on some freelance web eCommerce projects, also teaching Mandarin on weekends at a language school for a couple of years. However, when the kids were older, I thought it was a good time to get back on my full-time career path.
Was it challenging finding a job
My job search was really dif. While I do have some experience as a developer, I worked full-time almost a decade ago. There’s a lot for me to catch up on and many businesses will not recognise my past experience if it wasn’t for an Australian company.
How did the job at MessageMedia come up
Harry mentioned a couple of times how great it was to work at MessageMedia with their flexible work arrangement policies and constantly innovative products. One day, I asked Harry if MessageMedia had an internship program I could participate in that would help me restart my career. Harry had a chat with his boss, Head of Engineering Duncan Ross, if he would consider allowing me to apply as an intern.
Duncan was very supportive when Harry asked, and was eager to help me find any opportunity that would enable me to return to work. They recognised my past work history and instead, offered me a part-time contract role as a junior developer.
How has the role been flexible for you
Starting out slow with only three days a week has been super helpful for me and my family. Duncan assured me that this could help me slowly get back into full-time work and catch up on the skills that I would need to rebuild my confidence and capabilities.
He was completely right. It’s given me time to get accustomed to working full-time again and to help balance out our responsibilities with work and kids.
How are you finding it working here
I feel really good here. I have really good chats with people in the office. Back at university in Nanjing, we had very separate focuses and there was very little collaboration.
At MessageMedia, I feel like we’re all working towards the same goal and the camaraderie is fantastic. I also love that if I have any questions, you can ask anyone to help you and they’re always happy to. That’s why it feels really good.
Tell me about your manager
Kevin is so nice and has helped me a lot. He mentors me, no matter the task, and teaches me how to get familiar with all our different systems and tools. He allows me to tackle tasks step-by-step and lets me ask any questions so I can keep learning.
Kevin also allows me to pick which days I want to be in the office that week. That really helps, especially when emergencies come up with the kids.
Do you feel like it is an inclusive and safe workplace
I know some companies pride themselves on their competitive cultures, while others prefer not to share or help others. MessageMedia is the complete opposite of both. Everyone is so friendly and I chat with new people all the time. It’s such a great environment.
No one ever makes me feel like I cannot do something because I am a woman.. Our differences are celebrated as enabling us to do better work and bring different perspectives to our job. As a mum too, I feel the flexibility is a huge point of difference. If my child is sick, Kevin and Duncan are fine to let me go home early. Or if I need to stay at home to work that day, I can.
What do you think about MessageMedia supporting your return to work
If you have a gap in your work experience, it can be really hard to find a job later. This makes it so difficult for mums like me to return to work. There are few businesses out there like MessageMedia that truly welcome women back to the workforce by offering us opportunities to get back on our chosen career paths by creating flexible roles that help us catch up.
At MessageMedia, I get a lot of support. I get a lot of mentoring. Most importantly, I feel like I’m really included.
Final thoughts, further reading
We are aware and aim to support women, whatever their situations, in order to level the playing field for all kinds of talent. For further reading, make sure to have a look at our open positions or come have a chat with us now.
To find out more about how our other employees are faring, make sure to check out: