Skip to main content

Juggling conference calls with feeding schedules might seem like a recipe for chaos, but for Jessica Escobar, Design/Build Manager (DBM) at ARCO Design/Build Salt Lake City, it’s all part of the rewarding – and sometimes messy – reality of motherhood in construction. Join us as we explore Jessica’s journey.

ARCO: Fostering a Supportive Environment for New Moms

What initially drew Jessica to ARCO was not just the company’s unique blend of design and construction expertise, but also its generous maternity leave policy. This policy stood out to Jessica during her job search, prompting her to ask recruiters for honest insight about its utilization. The response was overwhelmingly positive: ARCO clearly values family life, and recruiters emphasized that the maternity leave policy is fully supported by associates who choose to utilize it.

“It was like a 180-degree turn,” Jessica recalls. “They said, ‘We want to encourage families, we understand that maternity leave is part of the process. We know family is important.’” This resonated deeply with Jessica, who worried that starting a family might hinder her career progression in the traditionally male-dominated construction industry.

At the time of Jessica’s maternity leave, ARCO offered a 10-week policy. Recognizing the need for additional support for new mothers, the company has since expanded the policy to 12 weeks. This change reflects ARCO’s commitment to supporting families during this critical time.

The Transition Back to Work: The Juggling Act

Returning to work after maternity leave presented a significant challenge for Jessica. The constant presence of her newborn contrasted starkly with the demands of her DBM role. The mental shift from full-time care to a structured work environment was significant, leading to feelings of guilt for not being fully present at work and missing precious moments with her son.

“The transition back to work was really hard,” Jessica admits. “It’s a big adjustment to go from being with your baby 24/7 to suddenly not seeing them all day.” Compounding this difficulty was the pressure to maintain productivity levels. “There’s mom guilt, but then there’s also work guilt,” she explains. “You want to be home with your baby, but you also want to be a productive associate.”

Finding a balance between these competing demands was no easy feat, especially as a nursing mom. For Jessica, this meant strategically scheduling pumping sessions around meetings and prioritizing tasks to maximize efficiency during work hours. However, a supportive environment played a crucial role in easing this transition.

“There was definitely a learning curve for the office as a whole,” Jessica says. As the first new mom in recent memory, her needs prompted creative solutions. For instance, Jessica’s office was temporarily converted into a private space for pumping. This flexibility not only saved time but also reduced the mental strain associated with context switching. Having a private space that Jessica did not have to come and go from allowed her to maximize her time.

Thankfully, Jessica’s colleagues and leadership team in the Salt Lake City office were equally supportive. They understood the importance of family time and refrained from contacting her unnecessarily during her maternity leave. Additionally, they accommodated her flexible schedule for prenatal appointments and subsequent pediatrician visits, demonstrating a commitment to work-life balance.

Through open communication and a willingness to adapt, Jessica has found a way to thrive as both a mother and a DBM at ARCO. She prioritizes quality time with her son but remains dedicated to her professional goals. This experience has also reshaped her perspective on work-life balance. “We can’t encourage people to take leave and have families if we’re not understanding of their need to spend time with them,” she concludes.

Advice for New Moms in Construction: Building Your Village

Jessica’s journey exemplifies the triumphs and challenges of motherhood in a demanding industry. Here, she shares valuable advice for new moms in construction:

  • Embrace the Village. You’re not alone! Seek out mentors and colleagues who understand your situation. ARCO’s network of female DBMs is a testament to the power of shared experiences. Don’t hesitate to reach out and learn from their experiences – both positive and negative.
  • Communication is Key. Open communication with your leadership team is essential. Discuss your needs and concerns proactively. A supportive work environment is more likely to flourish when expectations are clear and both parties are invested in your success.
  • Plan Ahead, Prioritize Effectively. Construction is fast-paced so it is extremely important to carve out time for what matters most. Strategic scheduling can minimize fire drills and ensure you have dedicated time for your family.
  • Find Your Happy Place. Identify activities that help you de-stress and recharge. For Jessica, spending time outdoors with her son has been a source of joy and rejuvenation. Creating these moments of calm will benefit both your personal and professional life.
  • Embrace the Journey. Motherhood is a beautiful, messy adventure. There will be tough days, but the rewards are immeasurable. Focus on creating memories and celebrate the milestones, big and small.

By embracing these principles, new moms can navigate the exciting yet demanding journey of balancing motherhood and a fulfilling career. Jessica’s story is an inspiration, proving that with the right support system and a positive attitude, you can thrive in both worlds.