GTPulse: Local Woman Helps Women Get Back To Work With The Mom Project
Colleen Curtis left behind Airpods in her Chicago office when businesses shut down a year ago.
“I had no idea they’d come back to me in a box in the mail. We had just decided to make everything remote, and we didn’t know when we would come back.”
She grew up in Suttons Bay and promptly moved away at 18 years old. She didn’t imagine she’d return home then, and she didn’t plan on staying when she temporarily moved her family back early in the pandemic. But like so many Northern Michiganders before her who left, upon returning home she was overcome with a desire to stay.
“My parents are up here, and we have a vacation rental that we rented out and stayed in a couple of weeks a year,” she said. “In July I sold our place in Chicago and we’ve just been living here. I have a seven-year-old and a two and a half-year-old, and it’s been really great being around family.”
Like all of us, Colleen’s life was transformed by the pandemic. Many have lost housing and jobs this past year. Overwhelmingly, women have lost their jobs through this past year. Over five million jobs have been lost by American women in 2020. Colleen has held onto hers, and it’s a good thing she has. Through working at The Mom Project, she’s actively helping get more women back in the workforce.
The Mom Project is a digital talent marketplace that connects moms with jobs. Founded in 2016 by Allison Robinson, the company is run by women for women and provides many opportunities and resources for moms to feel confident in their job hunt after being out of the workforce for a while.
“43% of American mothers leave the workforce after having kids for some period of time,” Colleen said. “When they decide they’re ready to come back, or they have an optimal situation where they can come back, they’re finding it very hard to get back in.”
It was difficult pre-pandemic. In current COVID times, only 57% of women are participating in the workforce, the lowest it’s been since 1988 according to the National Women’s Law Center. Unpaid labor like grocery shopping, house chores, childcare, and cooking are more likely to fall under the mother’s responsibility. Though men were hit harder and lost more jobs than women during the 2008 recession, they recovered and got back into the workforce quicker.
Women could have a slow trickle back into the workforce. Help from initiatives like The Mom Project help make the journey easier. The Mom Project gives moms a place to start, beginning with help explaining the dreaded resume gap.
“If you’re out longer than a year from the paid workforce, when you’re trying to come back in things have changed a lot. You’re going to face some caregiver bias. Something we’ve really worked on is normalizing caregiving pauses and that it’s not a ding on your employment history. In fact, it’s a choice you were able to make to support your family. There are lots of reasons people take gaps, and we work with recruiting agencies and HR professionals to normalize gaps in resumes.”
Other resources include building a talent profile, workshops on things like how to be prepared for job interviews over Zoom, supportive accountability groups, and returnships. Not unlike internships, returnships help bridge a gap for a once working mom to return to work.
“We have returnship programs that are fully paid. Maybe it’s a nine-month returnship as a data analyst at BP, we’re seeing the retention rates on the company hiring those returners at 95%. So it’s really just getting women that opportunity to shine and get back in.”
The Mom Project and all of its resources are free to all moms looking for a job. To put on all of these events, workshops, and other features, The Mom Project makes its money through training talent for large companies. It provides both women and workplaces with what they’re looking for in an employment situation. And if they’re not looking for full-time work, they can specify so in their talent profiles so the right jobs can be filtered through the digital marketplace.
“When all of these roles and opportunities hit the marketplace, you’ll be actively notified when things match your skillset, your flex options, and your background. You don’t have to worry about crawling the job board every day. You’ll get an email that will tell you when something could be a good fit for you. It makes things easier which is what we want to do. My hope is that if nothing else from this pandemic, respect for moms because they held this operation together.”
For Colleen, helping moms get back to work is the best job fit for her. And she’s happy to be doing it back home in a place she loves.
To get more information on The Mom Project, visit their website at www.themomproject.com.
Don’t miss stories like these, join the newsletter community.