Jessica Hastings was determined from a young age to work for P&G, a company she says is “cream of the crop” for young marketing professionals like herself. Today, she’s living out that dream at only 31 years old, as a brand manager for P&G.
She graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree of Spanish and Integrated Strategic Communications in 2008. She went on to receive her MBA from Ohio State University in Strategic Marketing Management. For the past eight years, Hastings been working on P&G brands that now, as a mom of two, she puts to the test in her own home.
Hastings recently began blending her roles of mom and manager to serve as a mentor for working mothers who are juggling responsibilities both at home and in the office.
“The greatest challenge I’ve faced in my career has been in the last couple of years when I became a mom,” she explains. “I’m incredibly blessed that I have had managers who have been amazingly supportive; however, in a promote-from-within company that is ‘up or out’ in my function, it’s an inherent disadvantage to temporarily leave the workforce to have children. It’s hard truth to stomach”.
Hastings says a work-life balance is a daily work in progress for her. What helps her the most, she says, is maintaining open, continuous communication with her managers. It’s important to set boundaries and manage expectations to avoid overwhelm, she adds, and above all be kind to yourself and others. “In a world where you can be anything, be kind,’” Hastings says, referencing her favorite quote.
As part of her mentoring role at P&G, she helps others – especially women – discover and achieve their objectives. She says identifying an objective is essential so you can navigate your way to it.
“If your dream job requires a little bit more experience or education, build a plan that gets you there,” she says. “Pursue the job right now that will help you build the skills you need to get where you want to go. I believe having a plan – a very specific plan – helps make the process of interviewing and looking for jobs much easier.”
Secondly, she says, it’s important to use your network. An introduction from a mutual friend, mention a shared connection you noticed on LinkedIn, or reach out to that family friend who’s an executive at that company you’d love to work for — are all helpful ways to leverage your network, which Hastings says can fast-track you to where you want to go in your career.
When it comes to interview preparation Hastings says to practice, practice, practice. “When I was interviewing for positions, I wrote out responses to common interview questions in gory detail and practiced aloud,” she recalls. “The watch out with this is to ensure you don’t sound rehearsed when you’re in the interview, but having a plan gives you confidence which is more than half of the battle. If you know what you want to convey, it’s easy to pepper in some authenticity in the moment.”