Seven years ago, almost to the day, I dropped off my 11-week-old child at the daycare her 2-year-old sister attended daily, which she too would soon attend regularly, and headed off to Facebook HQ.
I was wearing a professional looking outfit that didn’t fit right over my still bloated post-partum body. I hadn’t slept more than an hour at a stretch in 11 weeks. I looked broken, felt broken, but most importantly, was desperate to not go back to my existing job when my tiny infant turned 4 months old.
Facebook at the time was still relatively new. By that I mean that they had just celebrated their millionth user and were feeling pretty badass, but their head quarters consisted of a bunch of cheap looking furniture on which perched MASSIVE computer screens. Power cords crisscrossed all the floors and the conference rooms just looked a bit… unfinished.
They’d just experienced their first big media hiccup – the Facebook SUCKS debacle stemming from the banning of breast feeding photos, which led to moms leaving the site in droves and deleting their accounts in a huff.
I was being interviewed for a customer service position and I was really excited to discuss the issue with them.
I should have known better.
My interviewer – head of the department – was a young guy who didn’t look old enough to have to shave daily. After talking briefly with him, I met with every important member of his team, pitching myself as best as I could without really being able to glean what it was they were looking for, why they’d brought me in to interview, feeling increasingly uncomfortable as my milk supply built up, missing my sweet baby, wondering what the heck I was doing in this start-up office, talking to people who had a very different take on customer service than I did.
I asked them what they planned to do about the Facebook SUCKS walkout and they shrugged, asking me if I really thought it was worth worrying about.
I asked them about their overtime policy and they gleefully told me that everyone was allowed to work as much overtime as they wanted.
I asked them about how strict office hours were and if it would be weird if I dashed out the door to get to daycare on time at the end of the day. They looked perplexed, told me they thought that one team member might be married, but that they were certain no one had kids, and anyone most of them went out for drinks every day after work and that it would nice if I could join them a couple times a week.
I walked out of that room dazed, looked around at all the people hunched over keyboards, frantically typing, fully focused on their work, knowing without a shred of a doubt that this was not the place for me.
A few weeks later the hiring manager called and told me he thought I might not be a good fit for the team. I actually laughed and said “Ya think?”
Then, a month later, I gave up on the hopes of finding the ideal position, dropped off my baby at daycare with her sister and went back to my soul sucking job, which felt a little less soul sucky now that I knew what the alternative could be.
I wasn’t there for all that much longer, but that’s a whole other story.
Last week, I got to go back to Facebook HQ. New location, new digs, better furniture, different vibe, lots of new people.
I wasn’t there because a family member had landed me an interview, I wasn’t there because I was looking for a job, I was there because I’d been invited as an influential blogger to hear about how certain Facebook products could be beneficial to families.
I was shown to a lovely conference room, given some fun Facebook schwag, introduced to a lot of neat Facebook programs, invited to share feedback, and then taken on a tour of the new campus.
To say that it was a different experience is putting it mildly.
To say that I was a different person is putting it mildly too.
I was not tired, broken, fragile. I was feeling strong, good about myself, good about what I know, what I do.
On that day 7 years ago, I could not have told you where my path was heading. I was worried I’d be an administrative assistant/office manager for the rest of my life.
A month ago if you’d asked me, I don’t think I could have put into words what visiting the Facebook campus made me realize.
I seem to have come a lot further than I had noticed. I seem to have learned more than I thought. I seem to have grown more than I would have ever deemed possible.
I’m really glad I didn’t get that job back then.
I’m really glad to be on the path I ended up on.