Our next awesome career-driven mama profile is on Jennifer Scandariato, director of test engineering at iCIMS, a leading talent acquisition software solution. In addition to her demanding job and being mom to Sofia and Roman, Jennifer also finds time to volunteer and mentor for Junior Achievement of New Jersey.
Here are some of her thoughts on how she launched and has grown her career while raising a family:
Catherine Merritt: Are you on the career path you thought you’d be on when you were younger?
Jennifer Scandariato: No! I did a complete 360. After college, I went to work at a CPA firm thinking I would pursue a career as an accountant or a CPA. A few months in I realized I was not excited in my role. What excited me was when our network would go down, our printer would back-up, or our system would crash. I would call our computer associates rep and ask him to help, but instead of him coming on-site to fix our problems, I asked him to show me how to resolve the issues. Doing so gave me such a sense of accomplishment. From that moment on, I was hooked! Fast forward twenty years and I’m now the director of test engineering at a successful recruiting software company.
CM: What are some of the most fulfilling, as well as some of the biggest challenges you’ve experienced throughout your career?
JS: I love my role as team leader. It probably stems from being a mom, but there’s something about being able to see an employee complete a tough project, or have that ‘aha’ moment when they figure something out that just makes me happy.
There is never enough time in a day and that can certainly be a challenge. There are stressful times when your child breaks his arm and you have to take him to the doctor when you’re supposed to be meeting your boss. This happened to me recently! Ultimately, it’s all about balance and multi-tasking.
CM: How have you grown your career while growing your family?
JS: I have continued to grow my family as I have taken on more responsibility in my career. These two things don’t always easily go hand in hand! I have taken opportunities close to home and afar. I realize it’s better for me to be closer to home in case there is a play, an accident, or parent teacher conference I need to attend. I’m definitely not the class mom or involved in my PTA because of my commitments to my career, but I am present for my children when it counts!
CM: Have you found being a mom has made you more successful in your career?
JS: I think moms are natural leaders. You know how to build people up and you know when they need some tough love. Moms are also great at making quick decisions! We don’t have time to waste mulling things over. We need to be decisive and take quick action—something that’s helped me get further in my career.
In my role, I am responsible for ensuring that our products meet the necessary specifications from both a company standpoint and for our customers. On top of that I need to make sure I’m keeping my team happy and fulfilled as well as keeping my boss satisfied with the work that we’re producing. Being skilled at multitasking has helped me get further in my career and continues to help me daily.
CM: Did you ever consider opting-out of the workforce when you had children?
JS: Like many moms, I needed a salary, so I was not able to leave the workforce when I had children. I remember going back to work and placing my newborn in daycare. It broke my heart because I loved my newborn and I loved my career. Still today they both bring me joy. Having to choose one over the other wasn’t really a choice for me. I also hired people to help me. You have to ask for help when you need it.
CM: Lastly, What is your advice to younger women and moms who are trying to strike balance between career and family?
JS: As a young working mother, I often struggled with trying to do it all. Still now there are times when I don’t think I’m doing enough and I feel like I’m failing at home or failing at work. But as I’ve become more experienced in my career and in parenting, I know what I can handle and what I can’t. That kind of confidence has helped make me more successful in my career. You’re not going to make everyone happy every day and that’s okay.