How I Landed My Dream Job While 6 Months Pregnant
I sat in the car trying not to throw up. I swished a piece of candy between my tongue and teeth (one of the few things that calmed my uneasy stomach). I glanced at the car clock, which reminded me that my job interview was starting in just a few minutes.
It was a freezing, mid-December day in New Jersey. I took off my warm, worn out boots and squeezed my swollen feet into a pair of flats. I pushed myself out of the car, adjusted my XL sweater and shirt combo, and waddled through the front door.
I was six months pregnant, and I was applying for a new job.
I couldn't stop asking myself, “What am I thinking?” But I had no choice. I was commuting a grueling four hours on a bus every day from New Jersey to get to a demanding assistant role at a fast-paced media company in New York City. Not to mention I was also about to be a single mom? Getting pregnant was a big surprise for me, and not one my ex-boyfriend was ready for. Without financial support from my baby’s biological father or a ton of money saved up, I knew working closer to home and to family was the best move for my baby on the way.
A few weeks prior to my in-person interview at the New Jersey-based advertising agency, I started researching about applying for a job while pregnant. I had never heard of a single person doing it personally, and dozens of Google searches left me with little to no advice.
I was feeling somewhat defeated until I reached out to my former career management professor, who was well-versed in the hiring laws. I asked him if it would be totally ridiculous to apply for a new job while expecting. "It's definitely legal," he reassured me. (In fact, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) forbids pregnancy-based discrimination in the workforce. And legally women don’t have to tell a potential employer they are expecting.) Speaking with my former college professor helped me muster up the courage to do it.
As I walked up to the business park office, I thought of every possible scenario that could go wrong. As strange as it was to avoid discussions about being pregnant, I didn't want to be rejected because of it. I planned to shake hands firmly, flaunt my resume, and talk myself up like I would at any other interview. Plus, my maternity outfit was flowy, covering up my bump perfectly.
The interview went really well. I was coming from an extensive editorial background and applying for a similar editorial role. Nothing personal or out of the ordinary came up. I felt like I hit it off with everyone I met. It was a startup company and the staff was comprised of younger men and women of Generation Y, like me. I did quickly notice, however, that I was the only pregnant one there.
About a week later—after frantically checking my inbox every day, fearing I’d be rejected because the employer somehow discovered I was pregnant—I received an e-mail from the company. I almost fell out of my chair upon reading the subject line: "Job Offer.”
The hardest part about this whole interviewing-while-pregnant scenario was realizing accepting this job meant I had to finally be upfront about my pregnancy. My excitement turned to panic.
I re-read the e-mail over and over. It included my new job description, insurance package information, work perks, tentative start date, and offered salary. I created about 30 e-mail drafts about what I could possibly reply with. I finally got the courage to write a response that divulged I was expecting a daughter in about three months, along with a salary negotiation.
Again, I was met with a surprise. Not only did the company match my salary requirements but congratulated me on my pregnancy.
But that wasn’t all: Right before my daughter was born, my colleagues threw me a baby shower. I cried as I was flooded with gifts, thoughtful cards, and so much support. The company even paid for a portion of my maternity leave, even though it wasn’t required legally—I only worked there for three months and didn't qualify for paid leave yet. And once my maternity leave finished, I was offered a promotion and raise.
I know not every pregnant person will be as fortunate as I was to encounter an employer who was so understanding. But my experience reminded me that no one should ever feel insecure about their pregnancy or question their worth in the workplace—expecting or not.