I came to Wharton with a very clear goal to transition from gold mining to an autonomous driving industry – I am that fraction of a percent, which comprises “Others” in “Others” group. After several months of recruiting (which was supposed to be just couple of weeks), I was lucky to land an internship at a Silicon Valley stealth mode autonomous car startup Zoox as a Finance intern.
I was extremely excited to start my journey in the industry I want to build a career in, but had to deal with one of the hardest decisions in my life – separate with my children and husband for 13 weeks.
After final exams and spending 3 weeks in Kyrgyzstan (not a random choice, I am actually from there) as part of Wharton Global Impact Consultants Project, I was ready to head out to Palo Alto to start my summer internship. My 5-year-old son bravely woke up at 3 am to see me off to the airport and we had a farewell as I was leaving for the war. I think even tough airport security guys poured a tear or two, witnessing it.
Then on the flight to New York I made the biggest mistake that a woman in my situation could do – I watched a movie called “Lion” about a 5-year old boy, who was lost in India in 80s and about all the hardship he had to go through to finally meet his mother decades later. I think last time I cried so much was… never.
Following several weeks was an emotional roller coaster. I had very busy days at work, meeting new people, having engaging conversations, and admiring beautiful excel formulas and macros that I’ve created. But when I’d come back home, I would feel unexpectedly lonely – usually when I return home from school, I hear fascinating stories about a dog that was barking at its own poop while a firetruck passed the street with a serene on (true story by the way, reach out to me for more details, if interested). But in summer I would come back home to an empty room and the level of silence I haven’t experienced in years.
Then my favorite time of the day would come – facetime with my family. My son was the cutest – he told me once that he missed me as much as he missed his toys. If you’re a 5-year old, you know that the recognition is real – I was flattered. My 2-year old daughter on the other hand was so offended that I just stopped coming back home before bed time, that she stopped talking to me after few weeks and kept ignoring me till the end of the summer (good luck to her future husband).
The moral of this story is that it’s not easy to be a working mom, but the moments of reunion with my family pay off for all the time we’re separate.