Donna M., a Director on the Trading Education team who oversees Schwab Live—Schwab’s daily streaming market commentary and analysis programming—has been with Schwab for nearly 12 years. Schwab is Donna’s 58th job (yes, she’s counted), and it was her first job back in the workforce after a career break where she focused on raising and educating her two sons. We caught up with her to hear about how she positioned herself to reenter the workforce and how after just two weeks at Schwab, she knew that job #58 was going to stick.
Tell me about how you landed at Schwab.
I had been a stay-at-home-mom for 11-years prior to coming to Schwab. Previously, I had been in corporate education, and I saw a job listing within the Trading Services Education team. I put my resume in on Monday, I had an interview on Friday, and I was offered the position the next Monday. I almost turned it down because it seemed too good to be true. Initially I was hired as a contractor to fill in for someone’s maternity leave, but within five months another position opened and I was hired full-time.
Why did you decide to become a stay-at-home mom?
While I was pregnant with my first son, I got my first promotion into management. When my manager told me, I said, “I don’t mean to state the obvious, but don’t you see that I’m
pregnant?” He told me, “Donna, you are the person I want to do this job.”
But after the birth of my son, I decided to leave the promotion behind and take a career break to raise and educate my children.
When you were ready to reenter the workforce, how did you position your career gap?
I thought about my experience as a mother and tried to translate it to business terms that would be transferrable to the positions that I was applying for. So, I used business language to explain my time at home. For example, on my resume I put that “I was in charge of soup-to-nuts management of a team of four, including managing the calendar and budget, consistently coming in under budget, and handling daily conflict resolution.” I didn’t indicate that the team of four was me, my husband and my two children. But once I got into the interview, I explained that my experience was with my family.
My Schwab interviewer told me, “Well, good for you. That is pretty resourceful.” There was some earned respect from that point on.
How has your experience as a mother benefitted your career?
Honestly, staying at home with small children is way harder than being in the business community. I had to keep children alive, and I had no experience in that.
But when I returned, my level of productivity was much higher. I was a hard worker before but compared to being home with kids all day,
I could get so much done.
Do you have any advice for women looking to return to the workforce after choosing to stay at home?
When I returned to work there was some guilt about being away from my kids because I was with them 24/7. And there was also guilt about how much I loved being back at work. But it’s okay to be happy as a working mother, and it’s okay for my children to see that. We eased into it. I sent them to a summer day camp first, so they understood what being away from me was like.
In some ways, being out of the workforce put me behind in areas like technology, but I don’t regret it at all. I’m not a champion of either side—I’m a champion of both sides. When you are at home with your children, enjoy the time. But when you go back to work, enjoy that time too.
What’s led you to such a long career at Schwab?
The person who interviewed me for my first position at Schwab said they considered themselves a Schwabbie and that they planned on being a Schwabbie forever. I would say within two weeks, I knew I would be a Schwabbie forever too.
It’s my 58th job—I counted when the question came up as an icebreaker—so I have a lot of experience with how different businesses run. Schwab is the most respectful company I’ve been with, with the most integrity. The people are collaborative and smart. It’s all the things you want in a company, and I knew after two weeks that it wasn’t just talk, it was all true.
Learn more about how Donna is helping women at Schwab gain the knowledge to feel confident in the world of investing on Main Street Stories.
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