About a month ago, I came across some of the articles Brie Weiler Reynolds has written and shared on LinkedIn. Now, I’d never met Brie, but I quickly realized how passionate she was about using creating and using good content to help people in their careers. I loved her “How Leaning Out Helped Me Lean In” piece and how relatable it was to realize when you need to change circumstances for yourself in your career. So I reached out to connect. I’m in NC and she’s in Boston, but it’s good to get to know new people and learn from the value in other people’s stories. Hers is #28 in my Women & the Ways We Work series.
- I see how you’re providing resources for others now. What did you want to be when you “grew up” and how has that evolved?
The first career choice I remember making was back in elementary school. I wanted to own a doughnut shop, “so I could eat all the doughnuts,” as I remember telling people a LOT. Still have that sweet tooth. In high school, I had a couple career ideas that are close with what I do now: high school guidance counselor or journalist. I majored in journalism at Northeastern University but switched after one year to human services and counseling. At Northeastern, they have students do full-time work (cooperative learning) in between full-time studies, and my first “co-op” was working at the University, helping off-campus students find housing. That completely changed my direction–I decided I wanted to work in a college setting, helping students. Since then, my career has largely taken that path. My first true “job” after Northeastern was at a college career center. I stayed there for five years, earned a master’s degree in HR, and became a career advisor. Since then, my career has taken a few twists and turns, delving into career advice writing (not exactly journalism, but I still love writing), and then to career content for the job search website FlexJobs, where I’ve been for the past seven years.
2. That’s an interesting path. What do you do in your “day job” and why have you chosen that?
I’m the senior career specialist at FlexJobs, which is a job search website that specializes in telecommuting and flexible jobs–basically, jobs that offer the flexibility people need to have more control and balance in their lives. The mission of FlexJobs is what grabbed me–helping people find jobs that fit their lives. How many people struggle to stay afloat with so many competing and conflicting responsibilities in their lives? Kids, health, hobbies, caregiving duties, frequent moves, affording retirement, looooong commutes, the list goes on and and. We’re all trying to fit so many moving pieces into the puzzles of our days, and flexible work options (like being able to work from home or have a flexible schedule) make the daily juggle so much more manageable. I love hearing from professionals who’ve found a flexible job because they see an immediate impact on their quality of life as a result.
3. How did you get into what you do now?
Back in 2009, my husband got a job that would move us around the country for several years, so I needed to find work that would move with us–remote work. A former coworker who knew I had a career advising and writing background just happened to know that FlexJobs was hiring for a part-time writer (he’d worked for our CEO, Sara Sutton Fell, and said she was “the best boss I ever had.”), so I applied and landed the job. At a small and growing company, there is often a lot of work for those who want it, so I gradually took on more and more projects and responsibilities. Over the course of my first three or four years, I went from part-time to full-time, and from writer to content manager to content director.
Last year, for a variety of reasons I’ve written about here and here, I decided I needed to “lean out” and scale back my hours, so I transitioned to the career specialist role I’m in now. And since leaning out, I’ve heard from so many women who’ve experienced something similar.
There are internal and external forces that motivate us to keep going, push through, work harder, and sometimes that’s just not the right choice for us, personally.
Feelings of stress and overwhelm shouldn’t be ignored (says the lady who ignored them for a long time), but women sometimes feel like it’s just a burden we have to bear.
4. What do you enjoy most about your work?
Now I work about 30 hours a week focusing on the parts of my full-time job that I’d always been most excited about: writing career-related content, creating webinars and videos for job seekers, and furthering the public conversation about work flexibility. And perhaps paradoxically, even though I’m working fewer hours, I feel a stronger connection to work and to the mission of our company. So the short answer at the moment? Everything. I enjoy everything about this work.
5. What are your best sources for learning?
I’m a total podcast junkie. Depending on your career field (or one you’d like to get into), there are hundreds of podcasts to choose from. And they make learning easy because you can listen while you’re doing a million other things (like laundry, walking the dog, washing the dishes, driving, etc.). My favorite podcasts for women and/or writers: Hiding in the Bathroom (yay, introverts!), No Limits, Write Now.
6. I’ll have to look into those. What is your passion and why is it important to you?
Helping people is probably my number one motivator. “I’m happy to help” is usually my first response to everything, and I think it’s thrilling to know you’ve impacted someone’s day or life in small or large ways.
7. What do you devote your time to outside of “work?”
Family is probably number one. I spend a lot of time with my hilarious and stubborn four year old son, a ridiculously awesome husband, and an overly enthusiastic dog named Dizzle. Also, we just moved back to the northeast from Dallas and are finally close enough to family and friends to see people on a regular basis, so I’m trying to get out of my introverted tendencies and socialize more.
8. Sounds like you’re surrounded by some good people. Who are your role models?
Cliche or not, my mom (and my dad too, but he understands!). Hands-down, my mom is amazing. She’s so smart and so fun, it’s almost not fair. She worked part-time and full-time while I was growing up, handmade my Halloween costumes, and cooked dinner every night. In her 40s, she decided to make a big career change and went back to school to earn a master’s degree in library science. Since then, she’s done amazing work at several college and university libraries, become a tenured faculty member, and worked on so many interesting projects, I can hardly keep up. She retired last year and I honestly think she’s busier now with hobbies and side hustles than she was before. I never stop learning from her. When I was three, she made me a Wonder Woman costume. This year, we went to see the Wonder Woman movie together. My mom is a Wonder Woman. Oh, and she’s hand-making my son’s Halloween costumes now. I mean, come on.
9. Last but not least, best and worst advice you’ve ever received?
Worst – “Lean in.” As a blanket concept for all women, I just don’t like it. It really depends on the situation–it doesn’t make sense to lean into the wrong career or job for you, even if you are taking a stand for all women! I’d amend it to something like “lean in to what is right for you.” I’m all for women exercising their power to make a difference, in whatever way they choose, as long as it’s right for them.
Best – “Get outside.” Fresh air can cure, at least momentarily, whatever ails you.
Want to see more of the great concepts Brie puts together? Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter.
Thanks for reading Brie’s story. Share in the comments how it impacted you or share it on social media. Check out next week’s weekly post on Women & the Ways We Work. Missed the others? Take a look at my blog to read them. Know someone you think should be featured or would you like to be featured? Can I help you or your organization with a storytelling project? Contact me and let’s chat.
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