If there’s one mantra that guides Antonia N. when it comes to her career, it’s to ask for what you want. It’s a principle that has stuck with her since her first interactions with the Facebook company.
“I was on maternity leave for six months when a recruiter reached out to me,” Antonia, now a security program manager at Facebook, remembers. “I initially said no. I had a very convenient job, and everyone around me advised against it. ‘There’s a bias that comes with having a baby at home, and it’s difficult to fully embrace your new job,’ they said.”
A former colleague who was working at Facebook encouraged Antonia to interview, despite the concerns. Knowing there was a slim chance of her changing jobs at the time, she decided it wouldn’t hurt to have a conversation. But the idea of day-long interviews with a newborn at home was daunting. “As a new mom who was also juggling daycare, I knew there was no way I would be able to go in-person,” she says. “I thought to myself, well, if they’re really interested, they’ll work with me.”
“Being a working parent at Facebook has been a life changing experience for me.”
To Antonia’s surprise, they did. “Facebook worked around my schedule. We did all of the interviews through video conferencing, and there were times where I had an upset baby in my lap. Everyone I spoke with made me feel so comfortable. On top of that, I got great feedback! Team members felt that by tending to my child while interviewing, I showed the ability to work well under stress.”
Antonia shares a fond memory of her time in London, exploring the sights with her daughter.
As the interview process went on, the idea of working at Facebook seemed more and more appealing. When Antonia finally accepted the offer, they asked her to fly to London for Facebook’s two-week Bootcamp for new hires in technical roles. This posed another challenge for her.
“I knew I couldn’t leave my daughter at home, and if I was going to bring my baby with me, I’d need support. I told the recruiter that if I had to attend Bootcamp, I would need my child and my mother to come with me, and they agreed. I couldn’t believe it! This company didn't know much about me or what I was capable of, but they were ready to go above and beyond for me. I realized in that moment that when you want something, you have to ask for it. If a company says no, the job isn’t for you. You don’t want to work at a company that says ‘no’ from the start.”
“Being a working parent at Facebook has been a life changing experience for me,” Antonia shares. “Working at Facebook made me realize that I can be a parent and also continue building my career. I was able to set boundaries right from the beginning, and knowing that I am in control of my own time has been invaluable to me.”
Knowing when to step back and recharge
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Antonia faced another challenge. She had become a single parent, she was working from home and she had to look after her daughter. She also had a new manager, and being a people-person herself, she found it difficult to work from home. “I developed a sense of imposter syndrome,” Antonia recalls. “Between being there for my daughter and working from home, I felt like I couldn’t do either thing really well. Not to mention, I was far away from my family in Bulgaria, and I felt isolated. There were no lines between work and home life, and it was hard. I realized that if I wasn’t feeling motivated, I wouldn’t be able to motivate my team.”
Antonia enjoys spending time outside with her daughter in her hometown in Bulgaria.
“My manager shared a piece of advice during that time that has really stuck with me,” Antonia shares. “She said, ‘You don’t need to tell yourself you can’t have more just because you’re a mom. Don’t let that stop you.’ My daughter is everything to me, but I realized I can’t forget about myself. I took some time off, went to Bulgaria to be with my family, and I came back feeling refreshed. I took the time I needed to take care of myself.”
As a security program manager, Antonia supports a team in Dublin that works to ensure Facebook is compliant with local regulations. She uses what she learned from her own experience to encourage her team members to be more open. “I increased check-ins with the team to see how they were feeling, and through our work from home video calls with kids running around, I’ve gotten to know them on a more personal level. While we’re further apart physically, we feel closer than we ever were to one another.”
“My approach to leadership and my career is rooted in the belief that there’s a path for everything, we just have to find it,” Antonia explains. “A big part of this means advocating for yourself, and asking for support when you need it. Facebook provides a space for everyone, no matter their background, to bring their authentic selves to work without feeling like they have to explain themselves. To me, that’s the definition of a supportive work culture.”
Interested in a career at Facebook?