The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Many of us now have new challenges that come with working from home, homeschooling, and sheltering in place.
As a part of my series about how women leaders in tech and STEM are addressing these new needs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jayna Louder.
Jayna Louder is a 32-year-old Subcontract Administrator with Rosendin, an electrical contracting company. Mom to a 6-year-old Kindergartner and wife to a Senior Project Manager. Born in Orlando, FL, Jayna currently lives in Fort Worth, TX, with her family and works on a multi-building mission-critical data center project.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
I graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature. My husband started working for Rosendin Electric in 2007 in the Renewable Energy division. Due to my husband’s work in Rosendin’s Renewables Division, we traveled around the country. We lived in four different states for the express purpose of building wind and solar farms. When we moved to Fort Worth, TX, for him to work on the data center project, I applied for a temporary payroll position with Rosendin. After 3 months, an opportunity arose to transition into a Project Accountant. Right before the COVID-19 pandemic, I accepted an offer to become a Subcontract Administrator and work with our Corporate Finance Department.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?
I am grateful to work for a national company that believes in the “we care, we share” core values by giving back to the communities where we build. Over Thanksgiving, our North Texas Division held a canned food drive and collected over 1,000+. Our team donated not only the cans but also our time to sort and organize at the Roanoke Food Pantry. Roanoke is a small town just a couple of miles from our job site. We have enjoyed all of the local restaurants and shops there over the last few years while building the data center. It was wonderful to give back to a community that has welcomed us.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Currently, we are finishing building a massive five-building data center in Fort Worth. It will help people share and store data for years to come. People are sharing news and information more than ever before, and these Data Centers are essential to keep us all globally connected.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I am fortunate to work for a company that hires quality people who care about promoting each other’s success. Our company’s mission is “Building Quality. Building Value. Building People.” I have seen that first hand in my two years at Rosendin. Three individuals, in particular, recognized my talents, helped cultivate my skills, and equally share in my success. They are my former Division Manager, Cannon McAdoo, my co-worker and lead Project Accountant Juan DeLeon, and my current manager, Erica Wangrycht, who heads the Subcontract Admin department.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family related challenges you are facing as a woman in STEM during this pandemic?
The biggest challenge I am facing in creating work/life balance is essentially the “no separation” between work life and family life. Both my husband and I designated “office spaces” in our home to assist with focusing and minimizing distractions from our work. Since we share the same work schedule, we each have to take turns caring for our 6-year-old son and help him with his daily school work. It is quite challenging when you do not have that separation from career woman/mother/wife/homemaker. Every minute of the day at home, you are all of those things. You have to find in the moment, which take priority at that time. There is also no commute time to decompress about the day and reframe your mind that you are “off the clock.”
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Creating a family schedule depending on the days, keeping our “Monday through Friday” work/school week, and thoroughly enjoying our “weekends” as a family has helped create a sense of normalcy.
Can you share the biggest work related challenges you are facing as a woman in STEM during this pandemic?
Starting a new position as a Subcontract Administrator, during the pandemic, I was unable to travel and receive a full week of in-person training. The training has instead had to be virtual, which is not the ideal method for transitioning to a new team, particularly when teammates work in different locations.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Our team has done a terrific job of using our technological tools such as Microsoft Teams, Cisco Jabber, WebEx, etc. for remote training. We use the technology available to screen share and walk through training for the different aspects of the job. We also can have face-to-face interaction utilizing technology. Webcams help people on both ends of the screen to read facial expressions and confirm knowledge comprehension. You lose a lot of interpretation and understanding when you are relying on a single sense, hearing. With the utilization of the webcams, we can use our sense of sight as well to pick up on nuances.
Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?
Do your best to keep your morning rituals the same; shower, dress, coffee, breakfast, etc. Some days it is harder to do that than others. But when you keep your schedule the same, your mind is more apt to focus on the task at hand. It can be challenging when your dinner table is also your work table. Just as you did before you left your desk to commute home, remember to completely shut off the computer and walk away when it’s quitting time. A helpful tip to regain your dining table is to pack the laptop and accessories away in the work backpack nightly.
Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place for long periods with your family?
Remembering to go outside daily, play games (board games/video games/outdoor sports) as a family, take walks. Enjoy the downtime together, watch movies. Our family loves watching HGTV and the Food Network. Then return to work and school throughout the week. Keep bedtimes and meals at scheduled times during the week.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
1) Ability to cherish and make memories with my son. During this period, I am privileged to spend extra time with my son. He is in Kindergarten, and I specifically remember earlier this year, wishing I had more time with him. Realizing how fast he is growing and knowing that soon enough, he will not need me as much anymore. It was a startling realization that his “baby phase” was over. I am thankful for this extra time at home with him.
2) Reprioritizing our family budget and creating financial security. During this time, I realized where I spent money daily: morning coffee runs, lunches with co-workers, weekend activities (concerts, dinners, happy hours). These little and sometimes big expenses all add up. Having this time at home, we have saved money and prioritize “needs” over “wants.” I will keep these lessons for future spending.
3) Prioritizing family and close friends. I have made it a point to schedule weekly Zoom game nights with friends and family spread out over the country. I am communicating now more than ever with loved ones I rarely get to see in person.
4) Focusing on good health. Listening to my body when I need to rest. Stretching and working out for both my physical and mental health. I am running again, something I had forgotten how much I loved to do in the past.
5) Tackling climate change on a global scale. There is a significant drop in air pollution and the largest annual drop in carbon emissions in modern history. We can see clearly the impact we have as a human race on our environment and places where we see the possibility for more significant change moving forward. Telecommuting for work is showing to be an effective way to cut unnecessary travel and overhead costs when it comes to specific sectors of the workforce.
From your experience, what are a few ideas that we can use to effectively offer support to your family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
Taking the time to listen carefully to the needs of others. Recognizing the signs of someone who might be struggling and realizing when to offer help. They may need help financially or just emotionally. Change is hard for most people, and some people may have additional factors (housing/food insecurities, pre-existing medical conditions) that will contribute to the added stress and anxiety of our current global situation. It is on those of us who are able to offer help when we can.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” — C.S. Lewis
Realizing that there are so many things out of my control. All I can do is work each day to live a happier and healthier life. Create memories with my loved ones and do good in the world.
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!