WiLab Post: Finding Opportunity in the Turning Point

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FINDING OPPORTUNITY IN THE TURNING POINT

I recently had a fantastic opportunity to speak to a group of young women at Hult International Business School in Boston, MA for the “Women in Business Series: Walk in Her Heels” hosted by the Women in Business Club.

Hult

I discussed my background and my perspective on how it took me time to realize that the work I am doing today is in conjunction with my original goals as a fresh grad. 12 years in business has afforded me an understanding that fulfillment is much more complicated and you should not expect to gain a fulfilled life from your job alone. We are complex human beings. Take an honest look at yourself, your goals and aspirations to build the right opportunities for yourself. In addition, timing is not everything. Everyone talks about “having it all” which seems absolutely impossible when you are attempting this feat. It is also unfair to put that type of pressure on yourself. I am a successful business woman, wife, mother of a 4 yr. old with another baby on the way. Being everything to everyone has its ups and downs.

It was important to me to discuss a topic that I find interesting and something that has helped me in my own career which has been “Finding Opportunity in the Turning Point” When faced with a challenge or turning point in your life on the cusp of change. How can you make the best move, create the best opportunity and successfully position yourself to achieve your goals?

Recognizing the Turning Point, The Need for Change?

When you realize its time to take on a new challenge; graduating from college, changing jobs, career paths, or a major life event,  it is important to recognize the turning point and prepare yourself for a change. I am a list maker by nature and planning the next opportunity takes time to map out. Preparing to dive in takes practice, but when do you dive in the deep end and take a risk? I suggest to start by aligning your personal goals with professional goals. Does your next move incorporate your overall aspirations and mission? If your job path does not, that’s OK. We can’t all make our favorite hobby a job and sometimes reality sinks in. I often find balance between my career and interests by tying in extracurricular activities. Be dynamic.

Diving in the Deep End, Preparing for Change & Diving in

One of my most embarrassing moments was at a 6 grade party. I stood on the diving board (a chubby 10 year old girl), my crush was swimming in the pool, and for some odd reason I decided to announce that I was not only going to dive in, I would up my game and do a back flip. I proceeded to do a back flop in front of my entire class. It was at that moment I decided not to give a f**k and laugh with others (who were laughing at me) and not take everything so seriously. I use this analogy now 20 years later. You are inevitability going to dive in and potentially fail, big time. But that is the first step. Understanding your strengths, disposition and capabilities will help maximize your potential for success. Create a portfolio of your greatest strengths, where do you excel? Figure out what angle you are making the decision from, what is important to you, right now? When seeking a new opportunity, explore all options.

When you dive in the deep end to seek change in your career, do your research and know your audience. This will help you position yourself appropriately to communicate effectively with your audience. If you promote yourself to change, you will create new opportunities. Get out there!

Marketing Yourself, Tools for Engaging in Change

Some quick tips for marketing yourself; preparing your qualifications to engage in change, ask yourself; how are you presenting yourself to the world? Be your own advocate, find advocates. Who do you know that can introduce you to a new career, potential employer, advocate for change? Get comfortable with networking and the only way to do this is to practice.

Taking Chances, When to Take Risks?

It is important to consider timing when taking chances with your career. It might make sense to take a risk at this point in your life, for others stability might be at the top of the list. Ask yourself, can you really live with this decision every day? Do a walk through of your daily activities and make sure you are happy with your decision. How do you connect with the team, the mission?

Finding fulfillment is much more dynamic than landing a job. It is a combination of many things. Finding opportunity at the turning point is lead by your passion, understanding and disposition for the need for change. Capture your interests in both your job and through extra curricular projects to keep a sharp edge on your resume and credential building exercises. At the end of the day, its only a job and true happiness, fulfillment and change is initiated from within.

One Step Forward In the Working Mama Revolution

Please see the release of this story on WiLab!

ONE STEP FORWARD IN THE WORKING MAMA REVOLUTION

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During a recent interview with Chris Hayes on MSNBC, journalist Rebecca Traister was joined by a guest: her newborn daughter!  While she spoke about the recent email controversy involving Hilary Clinton, her little bundle slept silently on her chest.  I heard nothing about it and only came across the article when looking specifically for the latest news regarding working mothers.

This isn’t headline news and may not even go viral, but it should.  This small act is huge for working mothers who are striving to prove they are still relevant to their employers, despite their new parental status.

Despite this story’s quiet appearance, people are noticing it. Randye Hoder from Fortune.com said,“What was most remarkable, perhaps, was how unremarkable the baby’s presence was”

As working mothers, our goal is not only to find a balance between work and home life, but also to feel successful and supported in our work environments. Traister made a wonderful statement and point without really trying.  She did what feels natural to many of us, which is multitasking work and motherhood.  We don’t want to have to hide the fact that we are mothers and we don’t want to be defined by or judged for it at work either. Traister proved that being a mom and having a successful career is not only possible, but it’s the new norm!  The more we are exposed to these simple gestures, the more accepting society will be.  For now, Blissfulmamas is grateful for another amazing woman who is paving the way for us all!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: BLISSFULMAMAS

dsc_0013Blissfulmamas is inspired by living in the moment, embracing the chaos and enjoying the crazy wonderful ride of motherhood. As working professionals, we really do have it all! Come as you are and embrace it. Families are like snowflakes, each different and unique, no two the same. The antiquated idea of the perfect roadmap to raising a family, balancing a professional job, and everything else in and between is long overdue for a make over! Blissfulmamasis a networking community for working mamas with a positive outlook, looking to collaborate with each other on career advancements, job opportunities, managing and organizing family life, without forgetting about the long overdue personal “me” time. Our goal is to act as a positive outreach for working mamas and be a place where working mamas can collaborate & find resources, all available on the go!

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Read more about and from the author: BlissfulMama’s WiLab Profile

Sheryl Sandberg and Speaking Up in the Workplace

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Photo from http://karlynpercil.com

Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant have been authoring a four part series for the NY Times called Women at Work and it’s been eye opening to say the least. If you’re familiar with Sheryl, you know she is the fearless leader of the Lean In movement. She strongly encourages women to lean in, understand how they are held back, and how we hold ourselves back from achieving our professional goals and advancing on to take on leadership roles in the workplace.

Speakup

In the recent article in the NY Times; Speaking While Female,  Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant write on why women stay quiet at Work. As working career mothers, it is easy to relate to the descriptions of what women face in the workplace. There have been instances where our opinions and input were deemed as trivial and despite years of experience, we’re dismissed.

“When a woman speaks in a professional setting, she walks a tightrope. Either she’s barely heard or she’s judged as too aggressive. When a man says virtually the same thing, heads nod in appreciation for his fine idea. As a result, women often decide that saying less is more.”

The article speaks mainly to the response of men to women speaking up in the workplace, but what about the response of women? Is the problem that we as women are unable to deal with other women speaking up? I have heard experiences of many women in the workplace, unable to support each other or recognize good intentions when presenting a new idea. It is often other women in the work place who cut each other down, whether it be for another promotion, needing time off for family/leave, or just a simple idea. Women need to start supporting each other if we want to be effective with change.

When male employees contributed ideas that brought in new revenue, they got significantly higher performance evaluations. But female employees who spoke up with equally valuable ideas did not improve their managers’ perception of their performance. Also, the more the men spoke up, the more helpful their managers believed them to be. But when women spoke up more, there was no increase in their perceived helpfulness.

It becomes a game on when and where to speak up, often leaving women feeling that their best attribute is to hold there tongue and speak at the right moment, a sort of twisted strategic plan. Women who speak their mind are often seen as aggressive and forthright, not creative and innovative. It isn’t easy to figure out (which is a vast understatement), but if we initiate conversations and improve upon an accepting culture in the workplace, women will speak more freely and speak their minds, offering well intended value to their organizations.

The long-term solution to the double bind of speaking while female is to increase the number of women in leadership roles. (As we noted in our previous articleresearch shows that when it comes to leadership skills, although men are more confident, women are more competent.) As more women enter the upper echelons of organizations, people become more accustomed to women’s contributing and leading.

Positive Parenting this Winter: Keep Sick Kids at Home

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mom-with-sick-baby

Winter Woes. 

With all the recent snow in the Northeast, it is not easy being a career mama and trying to get to and from work, manage school closings and then on top of it all, potential illness in the family. Most companies only offer a limited amount of PTO, and Massachusetts this year has passed new law to include an additional 40 hours of “Earned Sick Time” that can be used for yourself or an sick family member, which will help in most cases attempt to battle the long drawn out winter woes of managing a family and career on top of a multitude of variables. This will be effective July of 2015, and hopefully will make a difference for most of next winter. It is to say the least, a step in the right direction.

Until then, do us all a favor, and keep your sick kids home! I have been at the other end of the spectrum and I agree that it is totally annoying to have to miss another day of work when your child is sick. It comes full circle, your kids are sick, you get sick, you miss work, your kids go to school and other kids get them sick, you miss work, everyone is healthy —and round and round you go again.

My advice is, get over it!

We send our child to daycare and posted on the walls are a variety of potential infections in the school; strep throat, stomach bug, flu, etc. It is horrifying to think that parents are having their infected children attend school or in general, bringing them to the grocery store, playgrounds and other public places! Most schools require immunizations, but with the recent influx of parents claiming that it is their right to choose whether or not to vaccinate their children, claiming non-medical exemption and/or religious reasons, the gap has widened to a real dangerous situation.

It is not your right to infect our children. 

I was a new parent once, and I get that the link to autism and vaccines is a scary thought. I asked my pediatrician for advice and she was outright angry at my question. I did my own personal research and determined that the risks outweighed the rewards of not immunizing my child. These diseases are REAL and DEADLY. We changed pediatricians to a family friend (the same Doctor that cared for me and my siblings when we were young). The entire tone changed when we discussed immunizations, and there was a sense of trust. We just went for it, and  immunized our son with the MMR shot. Unfortunately, he was the 3% of the population to exhibit Measles symptoms of a temp of 103+ and spots all over his body for 2 days straight.  I can remember his fast breathing and nursing him with a cool cloth throughout the night, scared $h!tless at what was happening before my eyes. But the truth is, it was a MILD version of the full blown disease and it was scary! I cannot imagine denying him the immunization with potential for contracting this deadly disease later in life or even worse, spreading it to other children who have not yet had immunizations. He just received the 2nd round MMR vaccination this past week with no issues.

Vaccinating the Baby, From a sketch by Sol Eytinge. Photo from the holdings of Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine—Harvard Medical School.

Immunizations are essential to a healthy community & society.

Cynthia Leifer, is an associate professor of immunology at Cornell University and a 2015 Public Voices Fellow at the Op-Ed Project. In her most recent article in CNN, she explains a valid point;

The unfortunate reality, however, is that more and more parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children for nonmedical reasons. Some refuse vaccines on the grounds of religious beliefs; others refuse on the repeatedly disproved argument that vaccines contribute to autism. Their high-risk decision not to vaccinate endangers not only their children, but also those who can’t receive the vaccines, and even those of us who have had the vaccine a long time ago, and depend on herd immunity.

Regardless of the reason why parents choose not to vaccinate their children, it is important for the rest of us to realize they are making the choice for all of us, too. By not vaccinating their own children, they increase everyone else’s chance of getting a preventable childhood disease like measles, whooping cough or even polio. Just last week, a 25-day-old baby died of whooping cough, which, like measles, is also spreading unnecessarily in the United States due to the decrease in vaccine rates.

Just like the drunk driver who makes a socially irresponsible decision that can endanger not only his life, but also the lives of the other drivers and passengers on the road, parents who choose not to vaccinate their children put everyone else at risk.

We can each play a part in protecting children by making sure parents understand their responsibility to vaccinate their children and the potential consequences on all of society if they don’t.

Positive Parenting.

We often look for simple solutions when parenting, managing a career and trying to coordinate childcare. Throw deadly diseases in the mix and it can seem daunting. Blissfulmamas outlook is to remain positive when trying to “balance it all” but we are realistic in understanding that we can’t be positive at every moment, and all the time. We can however, make positive choices when parenting our children. I personally have made the choice to immunize my children and keep them home when they are sick to reduce the risk of infection for others. To me, its a no brainer.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: BLISSFULMAMAS

dsc_0013Blissfulmamas is inspired by living in the moment, embracing the chaos and enjoying the crazy wonderful ride of motherhood. As working professionals, we really do have it all! Come as you are and embrace it. Families are like snowflakes, each different and unique, no two the same. The antiquated idea of the perfect roadmap to raising a family, balancing a professional job, and everything else in and between is long overdue for a make over! Blissfulmamasis a networking community for working mamas with a positive outlook, looking to collaborate with each other on career advancements, job opportunities, managing and organizing family life, without forgetting about the long overdue personal “me” time. Our goal is to act as a positive outreach for working mamas and be a place where working mamas can collaborate & find resources, all available on the go!

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Read more about and from the author: BlissfulMama’s WiLab Profile

5 Quick Ways to Use Motherhood to Your Advantage in Your Career Search!

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5 QUICK WAYS TO USE MOTHERHOOD TO YOUR ADVANTAGE IN YOUR CAREER SEARCH!

Source: One Kings Lane

It is a challenging decision to determine how to best market yourself when attempting to revitalize your career, change jobs, or get back into the work force, and it can seem like a daunting task! When you take the time to update your resume and LinkedIn profile, remember how motherhood offered you a unique skill set that you can capitalize on. Use this to your advantage and draw upon applicable experiences that will highlight you as a stand out candidate! Being in the staffing industry for 10+ years has given me insight to what Hiring Managers and Organizations are seeking:

1. Buzz words: Get past the gate keeper. Someone is sitting at their desk, weeding out the piles and piles of resumes that are in their inbox. If you don’t have the top 10 buzz words that are found within the job description that you are applying for, you are out. You should tailor your resume for each job that you apply for.  On paper, are you a fit for this role?

Mama Buzz Word Key; communication skills, motivation, team player, problem solving, strategic, time management

2. Can you do the actual job? A deeper dive into applicable skill sets. Let’s be honest, sometimes as Mom’s we feel like we can take over the world, and with that said -take on too much! Look at the job from a high level perspective. Are you going to enjoy the day-to-day tasks, what can you accomplish in this new venture? Envision yourself in the new role. Drill down and highlight where your applicable experiences are in your past positions and make sure to be clear and concise when describing your abilities.

Mama Buzz Word Key; ability to hit your goals, demonstrated record of success, multitasking, organizational skills

3. Personality, will the current team be able to work with you? You are who you are, and you can’t change that. When on an interview, the greatest influence you will have is choosing when to speak. Listen to the team, what they want in a new employee, turn the tables on them. Then respond with your greatest assets.

Mama Buzz Word Key; accountable, adaptability, compassion, deep listening, empathy, teamwork

4. Schedule, what can you offer in terms of commute restrictions, daily schedule, etc. As a parent, you undoubtedly have a full schedule and need the extra cushion of flexibility when starting a new job. Kids get sick, cars break down, things happen. Do not lead with this foot, but do not shy away from the reality that you need some flexibility.

Mama Buzz Word Key; dependability, fast learner, flexibility, motivation, work well under pressure

5. Something extra, do your research! LinkedIn and Google are amazing tools. Utilize them before you apply to a job or interview with a team. Understand their atmosphere, current events of the organization and the people you are meeting with. You might actually have something in common with one of the team members and you can point to the common thread during the interview to help you stand out!

Mama Buzz Word Key; creative, passion, perspective, research

Revamping your resume, changing careers, interviewing -the entire process can be nerve wracking to say the least, especially knowing that you have some constraints being a parent. Use these tips to your advantage and prepare yourself as much as you can by using your Mama skills! When in front of an audience, take a moment to consider the question and answer accordingly, pulling the skills from your toolbox that are applicable and highlight your in-depth knowledge of the opportunity and job at hand. Mothers are natural born leaders -use this to your advantage!

Some recent articles that we enjoyed;

7 Ways Being a Mother Made Me a Better Leader, Phaedra Troy

6 Ways Motherhood Improved My Resume, Scary MommyRachael Minkowsky

Resume Tips: The Shortlist for Every Industry, Megan Broussard

Good luck!

~Erin

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: BLISSFULMAMAS

dsc_0013Blissfulmamas is inspired by living in the moment, embracing the chaos and enjoying the crazy wonderful ride of motherhood. As working professionals, we really do have it all! Come as you are and embrace it. Families are like snowflakes, each different and unique, no two the same. The antiquated idea of the perfect roadmap to raising a family, balancing a professional job, and everything else in and between is long overdue for a make over! Blissfulmamasis a networking community for working mamas with a positive outlook, looking to collaborate with each other on career advancements, job opportunities, managing and organizing family life, without forgetting about the long overdue personal “me” time. Our goal is to act as a positive outreach for working mamas and be a place where working mamas can collaborate & find resources, all available on the go!

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | WordPress

Read more about and from the author: BlissfulMama’s WiLab Profile

WiLab’s Working Mom Series: Apple and Facebook’s New Egg Freezing ‘Benefit?’

APPLE AND FACEBOOK’S ANNOUNCEMENT THAT THEY ARE COVERING THE COST OF FREEZING EGGS HAS PEOPLE TALKING.

apple-facebook-freeze-eggs-mainThis NBC News article takes the positive approach to the matter, kicking off with a quote from Brigitte Adams, an egg-freezing advocate and founder of the patient forum Eggsurance.com. By offering this benefit, companies are investing in women…and supporting them in carving out the lives they want.”  NBC focuses on the positives of this new corporate benefit like leveling the playing field for a male-dominated Silicon Valley and attracting more female talent.  It goes on to quote author Emma Rosenblum  “Not since the birth control pill has a medical technology had such potential to change family and career planning.” 

The article does also touch on, only very briefly, the drawbacks to companies covering the cost of freezing eggs. Women may feel indebted to the company or feel it is perceived they cannot do their job while pregnant or a mother. However, it is brushed off by claiming “the more likely explanation for lack of coverage is simply that egg freezing is still new, and conversation around the procedure has only recently gone mainstream.”

I BEGAN THINKING THROUGH MY STANCE ON THIS NEW “CORPORATE BENEFIT” AS A WORKING MOTHER, MYSELF.

Is it a benefit or a ploy to have women be indebted to their employers and feel pressure to put off Motherhood? The line between work life and personal life is one that is quickly blurring and policies like these blur those lines even further.

Egg freezing is a huge decision and a huge cost, but one that has historically been made after a personal evaluation of your career and financials. With this new benefit a third party, your employer, joins the conversation.  Some may argue that your employer was always a part of the conversation, and that is probably true. However, your employer isn’t just a factor anymore, but rather an active contributor.

On the one hand this is a fabulous benefit to offer employees who have already or would have elected to freeze their eggs and may not have been able to afford it.  It supports women’s flexibility in choosing when they want to start a family and gives them the opportunity to focus on career now and family later.

On the other hand, this new corporate benefit can add an element of pressure that some women previously did not feel.  Before this benefit, the decision was entirely yours to make.  Now, since your employer is funding the process there may be a feeling of obligation, or guilt.  If you decide to have a child now rather than freeze your eggs for a chance later, does that put you at a disadvantage to progress in your career if you choose to return to work after maternity leave?

Dozens more questions passed through my mind on the matter. What if the company pays to freeze your eggs and later are fortunate enough to have a child when you want one, and then don’t want to go back to work, do you feel pressure to do so because your employer paid for you to freeze your eggs in the first place? What if your employer pays to freeze your eggs and then you decide you want to go to a different company?  Do you stay longer than you would have otherwise?

WHERE I NET OUT

I netted out in a place that, at the surface I think it is positive that companies are expanding the benefits they provide their employees, but companies need to do more. I came across one article on SFgate.com that focuses on the need to think about and encourage companies to offer more benefits for employees once they have a family. I certainly agree!

As stated in the sfgate.com article “They could have offered on-site day care. (Currently, Facebook offers full-time on-site day care only for dogs; Apple offers none for dogs or humans.) They could have offered to ease negotiations about flexible work schedules for new parents. Above all, they could have offered transparent salary scales and guaranteed pay equity. Women feel far better about starting a family when they know they won’t be penalized, either economically or in terms of career opportunity, for doing so.”

Rather than discuss the perception of a benefit that a company has decided to offer, we should continue to encourage people to make the decisions that are right for them and encourage employers to expand their benefits to support those decisions.  I hope to see an evolution in the way companies support those employees who choose to have a family.  Some companies already offer flexible work hours or on-site daycare, but that is far from the norm and only a start.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Timna MolbergerTimna Molberger is the Director of Analytics at Visible Measures. As a working mom of 2, Timna squeezes in as much time as she can with her husband and two children and when she has a spare moment or needs a break you will find her rock climbing, hanging out with friends, or just relaxing. Timna holds a B.A. in Economics and Sociology from Connecticut College.

Location: Boston, MA

Read More about and from Timna: Timna‘s WiLab Profile

Working Mom Series: A Day in the Life

WiLab Logo (1)WORKING MOM SERIES: A DAY IN THE LIFE

Contributing author from WiLab, Timna Molberger

i-don-t-know-how-she-does-it-poster

When I got pregnant with my first, L (just turned 2 years old), people asked me if I would go back to work. Without hesitation, my answer was a resounding “definitely!”

For me, going to work is a necessity.

It is my sanity. I feel that I am a better mom for it. When I come home, I have more patience for my kids (not always) and I am eager to spend time with them. My time with them is precious, not daunting (although at times still difficult and constantly testing my patience). However, finding the balance between work and home is not easy. I find that I need to be extremely organized yet very flexible (not an easy balance to find or maintain). Over the past two years I have developed an ideal schedule for me that makes the balance between the two manageable.

My ideal day as a working mom of 2 (L is 2yrs old and M is 6 months)

6:30am – 7:30am – Wake up, shower, get everyone dressed and fed, grab lunches/bottles (made the night before), and out the door

7:45am – Daycare drop off (divide and conquer with my husband)

8:05am – On the train to work

8:30am – Arrive at work – emails, meetings, projects, etc

Midday – Look at pictures/videos of kids because I miss them

5:00pm – Leave work for pick up

5:30pm – Daycare pick up (divide and conquer with my husband)

5:30pm – Playground (summer), indoor play (winter)

6:15pm – Family dinner prepared the night before

6:45pm – Bath time

7:00pm – Getting ready for bed, quiet play, bottle for M

7:30pm – Kids’ Bedtime (hopefully asleep by 8)

8:00pm – Prep for tomorrow – lunches, bottles, clothes, dinner, laundry

8:45/9:00pm – Work, relax, work out, get together with friends (depending on the day)

11pm – Bedtime

Sounds pretty nice, huh?

  • These ideal days do happen, but often at least one of the following shakes things up a bit (on bad days, MANY of the following happen):
  • Tantrum about getting dressed or eating breakfast
  • Tantrum at dinner, bath time or bedtime
  • Before 5am wake up
  • Didn’t prep lunches/bottles the night before so we end up running late
  • Didn’t prep dinner the night before so no family dinner and L eats whatever we can find
  • Midday call from daycare because one of the kids is sick and needs to be picked up
  • Doctor’s appointments
  • Sick days (your kid and then most likely you)
  • Too much work to do anything else after bedtime
  • Too exhausted after bedtime to function
  • Middle of the night wake up
  • And the list continues

At the end of the day…

The things that have to get done get done. You may not have as much time as you once had, to get your nails done, or relax on the couch, or even get enough sleep, but somehow you make it work, because you want it to work. The key is be flexible and don’t beat yourself up about the little things. Easier said then done, I know. We are harder on ourselves than anyone else is, and remember, your children will love you just the same if you cook them a gourmet dinner or scrambled eggs (they probably would prefer the scrambled eggs!).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Timna MolbergerTimna Molberger is the Director of Analytics at Visible Measures. As a working mom of 2, Timna squeezes in as much time as she can with her husband and two children and when she has a spare moment or needs a break you will find her rock climbing, hanging out with friends, or just relaxing. Timna holds a B.A. in Economics and Sociology from Connecticut College.

Location: Boston, MA

Contact Timna: info@womensilab.com

Read More from Timna: Timna‘s WiLab Profile