Working from Home with a 3-Year-Old: A Perspective
Mia Campitelli - September 15, 2020
When I joined Gilead nearly four years ago, I was more than 20 weeks pregnant with my first child. I still remember how thrilled I was when the recruiter called to offer me the job. It was the next step in my career that I had been hoping for, but the timing seemed far from ideal. When I called my future manager to let her know that I had accepted and that I was also pregnant, she reacted with genuine excitement and support. She told me that timing should not get in the way of the right opportunity. The next day, I received an email from her manager expressing the same excitement and support. It was a brief note, but it meant the world to me.
Some people would say I was crazy to start a new job with a baby so imminent – and they might be right. But I was fortunate to join a team with many inspiring working mothers and encouraging male allies. I was able to set a flexible schedule that supported my needs. I was always the first one in the office, but also the first to leave. Early on, I struggled to juggle work and motherhood. In those difficult moments, I was often reminded that this, too, shall pass. I have since realized that Gilead invests in the long-term potential it sees in its employees, which helped me forge ahead.
As a new parent, I often felt clueless, but never helpless. There were so many resources readily available for new mothers like me and also fathers. My daughter, Jayne, enrolled in the onsite daycare when she was five months old. The ability to run across campus to visit her during lunch brought me endless comfort. I signed up for personal training sessions at the gym located right next to the daycare. I also took advantage of a legal service benefit that enabled us to complete our estate planning at no additional cost.
I gradually started to hit my stride and began exploring additional resources that I did not have time for previously. I joined a “circle” through our Women@Gilead employee resource group, which connected me with other female colleagues. We met for lunch once a month to discuss our challenges, offer support and celebrate our successes.
When COVID-19 hit, many of us took on the double duty of full-time parents on top of our day jobs. This felt especially daunting for me with my husband working long hours in a hospital and my family on the East Coast. Like so many other times, both Gilead and my team were here for me. We received work-from-home stipends to purchase office supplies or apply to higher utility costs. Those of us with children were eligible for additional monthly stipends to help with expenses related to distance learning, educational materials or sitter fees. My own team quickly held focus groups to make sure all of the team’s parents, regardless of their situation, had the support they needed.
Working from home with a three-year-old is incredibly challenging, but Gilead has helped make it possible. The childcare stipend has provided many of the same toys and activities Jayne enjoyed at daycare. Having them at home has helped maintain some continuity during this wildly uncertain time. When preschool began, I was able to hire a sitter to help with distance learning. And when the sitter isn’t here, Jayne still has plenty to do. I can even take her out in the backyard and work from there, thanks to our boosted WiFi.
These past six months have given her a front row seat to an important part of my life that she would otherwise never experience. She knows what Zoom meetings are and that she needs to play quietly when they happen. Despite my best efforts, Jayne has participated in many Zoom calls interacting with everyone from the security officer to our Chief Medical Officer, and has experienced nothing but kindness and understanding from the people on the other end. While it can be hard to find positives during these bleak times, I will cherish the quarantine memories we have made together. Above all, our daily routine has shown her firsthand that mommies can also have careers.
Mia Campitelli is Director of Public Affairs at Gilead.