Friends to Coworkers: A Referral Story

Everyone thinks their friends are amazing, smart, and fun, but would you actually want to work with them every day? Zach Bird, eCommerce Optimization & Sales Coach does! He referred his friend Josh Ziman, now Sr. UX Designer and they are the self-proclaimed referral kings of HomeAway. They are sharing why they love their jobs and how they are helping their friends work here too.

Zach taking a selfie in front of the birdhouse meeting rooms at our Penn Field office in Austin.

Zach taking a selfie in front of the birdhouse meeting rooms at our Penn Field office in Austin.

Zach and Josh met at The University of Texas, Austin and have stayed friends in their postgrad years. When it came time for Josh to leave startup life, he asked Zach about his HomeAway experience.

When Zach describes his role he says, “Before I was a sales team lead at a startup, but now I’m in a sales coaching role and I work with 34 of our reps on soft skills, training and delivery. There are several things I love about working at HomeAway — it’s a bigger company, we have great incentive programs, and even more resources since the Expedia acquisition.”

This was enough to pique Josh’s interest and begin the application process. Now that Josh is officially part of Team HomeAway, it’s much easier for him to give insight about the day-to-day on the engineering and product teams.

“Before HomeAway, I was the sole UX designer at a eight person startup in travel and hospitality. We built products for hostels and backpacker transportation in Latin America. On a small team, my work spanned many disciplines, which is what I preferred at the time.

HomeAway allows me to focus and ‘go deep,’ which is what I wanted next. We have a large team of expert designers, prototypers, researchers, and writers — a diverse group of people who grow and teach one another everyday. It’s a fantastic place to think scientifically, challenge ideas, learn new processes and improve my craft.” - Josh Z.

So how are these two friends handling future referrals? Josh and Zach made an arrangement to split bonuses because they have so many mutual friends who also want to work at HomeAway!

While combing your LinkedIn connections and following up with hiring managers may sound tedious, these two swear it pays off.

Josh joined Team HomeAway as a Sr. Experience Designer in 2018.

Josh joined Team HomeAway as a Sr. Experience Designer in 2018.

Zach says, “I love using LinkedIn to promote job postings from HomeAway. The referral bonus is fantastic and well worth the extra effort of sharing job postings and following up with people.”

They even have a system in place to decide who should talk to each referral.

“It’s easy to talk to a wide array of people about working at HomeAway because our roles are so different. If they are pursuing a more technical role (developer, UI/UX) that’s right in Josh’s wheelhouse. We also have a number of contacts in the sales space here in Austin, so when we come across someone who’s more aligned for that, I come in as the resident sales coach. I think we both have a lot of insight into the recruiting and hiring process as well and will often try to help folks navigate the process altogether. In fact, I know that Josh is reviewing the resume of one of our mutual friends right now!” - Zach

You might not be a personal acquaintance of Josh or Zach, but they have some recommendations on how to get someone in your corner to advocate for you.

Zach says, “First, you need to be qualified for the job, make sure you have a good track record with the person you’re asking to refer you, it’s really that easy.”

Whether you’re looking for a new job or looking for referrals to join Team HomeAway, it’s always easier with friends, just ask these two!

Want to join Team HomeAway or learn more about what it’s like to work here? Visit our careers page!

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Inside John Kim's Exclusive Career Development Cohort

President, John Kim, recognizes the importance of spending time developing talent within HomeAway. With his President’s Apprentice program, he’s dedicating his personal time to help existing and future HomeAway leaders broaden their leadership footprint. These employees recently graduated from the program and they’re sharing the advice and learnings they took with them.

(The Alpha class from the Customer Experience and Partner Success teams. From left: Seleena Hoban, Shawn Stoller, Drew Cross, John Kim, Katie Winland, and Sarah Wilson)

(The Alpha class from the Customer Experience and Partner Success teams. From left: Seleena Hoban, Shawn Stoller, Drew Cross, John Kim, Katie Winland, and Sarah Wilson)

Q: What is something that you took away from your apprenticeship that you’re applying to your current role?

“The ability to form a better argument. As a group, we’ve been working on building a business case for HomeAway to implement. The process of forming a thesis, supporting facts and getting buy-in is very tough, but the skills and insights I’ve learned from John Kim have helped me suggest and support arguments to my team.” - Trey Briggs, Senior Software Engineer

“Do your research, then do some more! This program showed me how critical it is to dig in to understanding any problem you’re trying to solve with a scientific mindset and feverish curiosity. I use this daily to lead my team and we lean on the data and research to have more meaningful conversations with our partners.“ - Megan Hunter, Lead Account Manager

“Since participating in the Apprenticeship program, my role at HomeAway has changed significantly. Some of the most impactful takeaways were the power of leading with logic, being an organizer of thought and always encouraging others to poke holes in my argument. If I’m ever feeling stuck, I can hear JK saying, ‘Ok, what is the job to be done here? What do I want to accomplish?’ He said this so often that it became sort of a running joke amongst the group, but it’s such simple and sound wisdom! Starting with the end in mind allows me to build stronger branches of logic and have a vision that isn’t muddied by an infinite number of possible outcomes.  - Sarah Wilson, Customer Experience Specialist

Q: What’s the nomination process like and how you found out you were accepted?

“I was nominated by my director at the time. After the nominations, we were interviewed by Arin Bryan from the Learning & Development team, who asked us questions about our experience and what our career aspirations were. I then had a call with John Kim to discuss the program and see if I would be a good fit based on what his goals were. Then I was notified that I had been selected to participate in the first junior cohort at HomeAway and I was super excited!” -Katie Winland, Partner Success Team Lead

Beta Class from left: Trey Briggs (Engineering), Julie Bosshart-Lammers (Marketing), Megan Hunter (Partner Success), Andrew Cunningham (Product), Joshua White (Customer Experience)

Beta Class from left: Trey Briggs (Engineering), Julie Bosshart-Lammers (Marketing), Megan Hunter (Partner Success), Andrew Cunningham (Product), Joshua White (Customer Experience)

Q: What was your experience like working directly with HomeAway President, John Kim?

“John Kim says things that make you think differently for the rest of your life. I remember him asking us how we were feeling about our final presentation in which I answered ‘I just want it to be awesome!’ He then said to me, ‘That’s a fixed mindset.’ We read the book Mindset by Carol Dweck which honestly changed me mentally for a couple weeks in that I constantly counted the times in which my mind was in a fixed state rather than a growth state. I’m better for it only because John Kim called it how it is. You need to be open to the feedback and understand that he wants you to be the best version of yourself and a great leader.” - Seleena Hoban, Global Operations Program Coordinator

“JK inspired me to evaluate how I ‘show up’ for my job every day and how important it is to understand how you are doing now, then set up a plan to measure how you will continue to grow moving forward. It’s not enough to say, ‘I want to get better at x, y, or z.’ You have to put the time in and then figure out how to quantify the results and keep yourself in check!” -Megan Hunter, Lead Account Manager

Q: How did the career coaching session impact your personal career goals?

“The coaching sessions with John Kim and Learning & Development Specialist, Kylie Robin were incredibly insightful. John showed me how to be more intentional with my career by writing down my aspirations, what I want my reputation to be and how to align my week-to-week actions to get there. This helped me reevaluate where I was at in my career at the time and led me to work with my director to set goals. My sessions with Kylie helped me gain insights for daily self-improvement. Her general knowledge and thoughtful consideration for coaching me on leadership opened me up to new skills like communicating with confidence and compassionate directness. These sessions were invaluable and allowed me to take intentional steps to achieving my personal goals.” - Trey Briggs, Senior Software Engineer

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Q: Did you work on a specific assignment during the program?

“Our main project was creating our vision of ‘The Future of Sales and Service.’ I know...so meta.  I can remember exactly where I was sitting the day JK gave us feedback.  It wasn’t pretty, but to be fair, this was the very first time any of us had ever attempted to create a strategic vision. After gathering information from some of the brilliant minds at HomeAway (and going through countless iterations), we presented our thesis to leadership and an audience of over 300. I’m immensely proud of what we accomplished! It’ll be an ongoing goal of mine to emulate JK’s seemingly effortless ability to deconstruct a pile of dirt and rebuild it into diamond.” - Sarah Wilson, Customer Experience Specialist

Q: Did you meet new coworkers during the program?

“The first junior cohort was from Customer Experience and Partner Success. A few of us knew each other prior to the program, but this experience really brought us together as a group. We still connect with each other in and out of work, I feel like we have become a family. We spent a lot of hours together preparing for our sessions and final presentation and we created lasting friendships. I’m so grateful for this experience it really taught me a lot about collaboration and I made friends that I’ll have for the rest of my life. -Katie Winland, Partner Success Team Lead

Want to join Team HomeAway or learn more about what it’s like to work here? Visit our careers page!

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A Day in the Life of a HomeAway Events Specialist

Meredith’s job is unique, so unique in fact she refers to it as the “unicorn role.” Positions like this are posted few and far between so when she found out HomeAway was hiring for an Employee Events Specialist role she immediately envisioned herself in HomeAway blue. While most new employees hope for a relaxing transition and plenty of time to get acclimated, Meredith jumped in head first on day one. Why? One of our biggest events was right around the corner, Austin City Limits Music Festival. She’s sharing her experience coordinating the HomeAway Hospitality Tent at ACL and tips for scoring a dream job like hers.


Q: How would you sum up your role in one sentence?

MC: I plan activities and events that contribute to the many reasons why Team HomeAway wants to come to work instead of having to come to work.

Q: What types of events do you help with?

MC: My first two big events were Day of Caring and the HomeAway hospitality tent at Austin City Limits. Next up is the Level Up Games.

Since this is a new role, we’re still working out the events where I will take lead and/or collaborate with other teams like Diversity & Inclusion, Facilities, Expedia Group, etc. We’re also working on the 2019 calendar and hoping to add some new internal events and other engagement opportunities into the mix!

Meredith and her manager, Jaime M. posing in the photo booth for Halloween.

Meredith and her manager, Jaime M. posing in the photo booth for Halloween.

Q: Give us two tips for someone wanting to start a career in events?

MC: First, volunteer to help out with as many events as you can! Then you’ll be top of mind if there is a need for an official events role. Second, no matter how much time and effort you put into producing an event, somebody has to get out on the dance floor to really get the party started. Don’t be afraid to be that person!

First time visiting the Expedia Group office in Bellevue, Washington.

First time visiting the Expedia Group office in Bellevue, Washington.

Q: What’s been your favorite thing about working at HomeAway so far?

MC: ACL was hard work, but amazing! Both of Nelly’s St. Lunatics gave me high fives during his show on the HomeAway stage, so I think that officially makes me a St. Lunatic now.

I also enjoyed seeing all of my talented teammates who submitted videos to the HomeAway’s Got Talent competition. It’s the first time we’ve done a competition like this where employees vote on the different acts and the winners get to perform at our annual holiday party in Austin. I’m looking forward to the live performances and hope that we get to do something similar again!

Interested in learning more about what it’s like to be part of Team HomeAway? Follow us on social media or visit our careers page!

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My 5 TakeAways from the Texas Conference for Women

Written by Jennifer Haston, HomeAway Customer Support Supervisor

I was privileged to attend the 2018 Texas Conference for Women thanks to HomeAway. It's my dream to speak there someday, but one step at a time folks!

One of the many things I love about Expedia Group and HomeAway is their commitment to knowledge and learning. Many programs are offered internally that allow for professional and personal development. It’s such a joy to be able to take advantage of these programs and the opportunity to attend conferences like this. 

There were 7,500 people in attendance at this year’s conference. Take a minute, drink that in.

7,500 attendees (mostly women) and it was great to see some men as well! 

The day started with a breakfast session with (Anne Grady) about balance being bogus. It really set the tone for my day because my normal habit in an environment like this is to take copious notes (which I never look at again) and really MISS out on the opportunity to BE there.

Luvvie Ajayi and I after her session.

Luvvie Ajayi and I after her session.

Anne asked us to think about what we would do to really BE at the conference. 

Some suggestions in the room were:

I was fed, motivated and ready to start the day.

There were so many takeaways from this conference, but for time’s sake I’ll share my favorite highlights.

  1. Always be early. This ensures that you’ll snag a good seat and it allows time to review the conference guide.

  2. "We need accomplices, not allies."- Luvvie Ajayi

  3. “Small Potential is the limited success we can attain alone. Big potential is what we can achieve together.” - Shawn Achor

  4. "Choose discomfort over resentment." - Brené Brown It's not comfortable to say no, especially for women. We want to do it all, have it all and be ALL things. If you say no, you will be uncomfortable in the moment, but you won't resent the person you shouldn’t have said "yes" to in the first place.

  5. Be bold and ask questions, it often leads to great discussion! This applies to individual networking, local meetings, and conferences.

If there is a conference for women in your state, I highly recommend attending. Also, encourage your company to sponsor employees to attend or sponsor a booth like HomeAway did at the 2017 conference!

Interested in learning more about what it’s like to be part of Team HomeAway? Follow us on social media or visit our careers page!

Fast Track Your Career From Entry Level to Next Level

Working at the front desk is the perfect career launchpad to many departments within HomeAway. Why? As a front desk assistant, you’re “in the know” with office happenings, open roles, and it’s a chance to connect with everyone from the president to the security guards. Kylie Saurage, Emily Swansey, and Tiffany Lee share how their careers have changed since working at the front desk and how you can take the next step too!

Q: What originally interested you in working at HomeAway?

Kylie working at the font desk at our Domain office.

Kylie working at the font desk at our Domain office.

Kylie: The first time I heard of HomeAway was when we had a stage at the Austin City Limits Music Festival in 2015. I started as a contractor picking up shifts for the front desk here and there. I thought the atmosphere, company culture, and the people were super rad.

Emily: I also started working at HomeAway as a contractor covering the front desk back in 2012. That eventually led to an opportunity to work for the HomeAway Software team. When my contract with HomeAway Software ended in late 2012, I was crushed because I genuinely loved working for HomeAway. I worked for another company for nine months, applying to various roles at HomeAway, before finally finding my way back as a full-time front desk coordinator.

Q: How did working at the front desk prepare you for your current role?

Kylie: It allowed me to interact with many different people at HomeAway so when I became a recruiting coordinator, I already had great relationships established with many of the hiring managers. There were also a lot of ad-hoc projects I worked on at the front desk that prepared me for all of the coordination I do now.

Tiffany with another former front desk assistant.

Tiffany with another former front desk assistant.

Tiffany: When I was a front desk coordinator, we were still a small startup. We had 65 employees in Austin and had just acquired a company with 60 employees in another city. I was responsible for many things outside the regular duties of answering the phone, office upkeep, and greeting visitors. For example, I organized our first food drive by pitting different departments against each other. The result was almost four tons of food! We had to rent U-Haul trucks to get it to the food bank. Also, when there was an executive fire, I got to help put it out. The best though? Knowing everyone in the company. That visibility is how I transitioned into a marketing role in just one year without any formal marketing experience. Now I’m the Employer Brand Manager. The rest is history.

Kat and team at Spredfast Summit in Austin.

Kat and team at Spredfast Summit in Austin.

Emily: It paved the way for me to transition to the social media  team at HomeAway. We have several offices in Austin and I think it’s easy for people to feel trapped and unfamiliar with other departments. Being at the front desk allowed me to network with employees and learn where my interests were, but the work didn’t stop there. I reached out to employees to get additional insight on their roles and departments. I also offered to work on side projects in my free time. In the process, I learned a lot more about the company and how genuinely nice and caring #TeamHomeAway is.

What are your tips for someone who wants to get a job at HomeAway?

Kylie: General tips for job hunting would be to make sure your resume is in tip-top shape. Bad grammar and spelling are red flags. Also, be courteous to everyone you interact with at HomeAway from your coordinator to the front desk person. Everyone will let the recruiter know if someone is acting up!

Tiffany dressed up for her first HomeAway Halloween.

Tiffany dressed up for her first HomeAway Halloween.


Tiffany: Be diligent. Understand your skill set and how it might provide value to HomeAway. Be able to articulate that. Be yourself. If it’s not a fit right now, it could be later. Listen to the feedback and apply it to your next career move so you can come back with those skills and try again. Persist. Believe in yourself and the value you bring.


Emily: If you’re already working at HomeAway and you’re interested in another team, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Reach out and ask an employee to meet you for coffee or maybe chat over a bowl of snacks in the bistro. There is also an amazing mentor program available now that makes it easier to connect with other teams.

Tiffany (center) showing off her t-shirt quilt made from HomeAway shirts she’s collected during her 11 years with the company.

Tiffany (center) showing off her t-shirt quilt made from HomeAway shirts she’s collected during her 11 years with the company.

How does the position you’re currently in resonate with your skills?

Tiffany: I love connecting with employees and potential employees to share the mission, goals and values of HomeAway and Expedia Group. Talent Brand offers many channels for me to help employees tell their HomeAway stories and to make those connections with people considering HomeAway for their next career move.

Emily’s creativity and love for social media extends beyond her role at HomeAway. View her photography on  Instagram .

Emily’s creativity and love for social media extends beyond her role at HomeAway. View her photography on Instagram.

Emily: As a millennial, I’ve always had the internet at my fingertips. I grew up in a small town where there was very little going on and the internet, specifically social media (hello MySpace and Friendster), was an awesome way for me to connect with people in other states or countries. When the opportunity opened up on the social media team, I knew I had to jump on it. I handle all of our-day to-day conversations with travelers and partners on Twitter and Facebook. It’s so interesting to see how people interact with us as a brand.

Want to join Team HomeAway or learn more about our benefits and perks? Visit our careers page!

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8 Things You Missed at Grace Hopper 2018

We’re all settled back into our offices and finally getting a chance to reflect on our inspiring weekend in Houston for the 2018 Grace Hopper Celebration. If you’ve never attended GHC, just imagine thousands of women clad in sneakers and t-shirts running between panel sessions, career booths, and coffee meetups. With 20,000 attendees, things can get a little chaotic and it’s easy to miss small details from the week. These are the eight things you might of missed from GHC 18.


1. The energizing keynote from Jessica O. Matthews who tested out her Pulse jump rope invention in heels. Girl’s got major skills.

2. Forget headshots, how about latte art with your face!

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3. HomeAway Senior Data Analyst, Nikole Phillips’ first time at GHC and getting an incredible selfie with Anita Hill.

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4. Sock giveaway at the HomeAway networking lounge! Because who doesn’t need socks with birdhouses on them?

5. HomeAway Software Engineer, Kuldeep Chowan, sharing his experience about going serverless during his panel discussion.

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6. So. Much. Swag. From custom printed phone cases to tech tacos, there was no leaving Grace Hopper empty-handed.

7. Exploring the digital map of people’s dream travel destinations at the Expedia Group booth.

8. Meeting up with friends from other Austin companies like Indeed! Grace Hopper is the perfect opportunity to catch up with people in your network.

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How My Job Helped me Score the Ultimate Gig

In 2016, Pete Parsons visited the HomeAway London office and took an unexpected weekend trip to Scotland for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The festival was simply mind-blowing and returning to Edinburgh became Pete’s ultimate goal. With a little help from friends and Team HomeAway, he performed at the festival two years later. Pete is sharing how staying passionate about your hobbies can help you achieve a better work-life balance while keeping your personal brand on point.

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Q: What is the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and how did you get to perform?

Pete: “It started when I visited the HomeAway office in London for a couple weeks and I heard about the Edinburgh Fringe Festival from a coworker so I decided to go for the weekend. It’s the largest performing arts festival in the world with over 3,500 performances in August and after that visit I knew I wanted to be part of it. The application process was pretty easy, I just had to pitch my performance to sponsors and wait to see who would pick it up.”

Q: How did you get your start in improv and theater?

Pete: “I’ve been doing comedy since I was in high school and I’ve continued acting in my free time. The comedy show I have now is called “Secret Mountain,” it has a “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” flair, but my show is geared toward adult humor. I also teach improv locally. I ran a few workshops at the McCombs Business School at the University of Texas, Austin and I led a session with our President’s Apprentice group at HomeAway. It was cool getting to share the art of improv with people at HomeAway because I feel like there are many positive elements that can help within the workplace.”


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Q: Was it difficult coordinating international travel for a large group?

Pete: “It was a little difficult to coordinate because I had to bring multiple casts from Chicago and the Austin improv community because not everyone has the same number of vacation days. We also had to raise funds to help with transportation and lodging while we were there. My HomeAway team was very supportive with that endeavor. They donated to my fundraiser, hung up “Secret Mountain” posters around the office, and even came to some of my local performances.”

Q: That’s great your team was supportive! Were you nervous about being away from work for two weeks?

Pete: “My manager was supportive from the beginning and never discouraged me for taking that amount of time off. I even offered to work remotely and they were like absolutely not you’re on vacation!”

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Q: What was the highlight of your experience at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival?

Pete: “The highlight for me was just actually accomplishing my goal and getting to the festival. When we plugged in everything for our rehearsal and they started playing the theme song for our show it really hit me that I made it. In the beginning of the week there were just a few people in the audience, but as the week went on more people began to show up and some even came back for repeat performances.”

Q: How did HomeAway and your team play a role in this experience?

Pete: “Without a doubt this would not have been possible without the resources HomeAway offered me such as sending me on my first work trip to London two years ago and being able to take that much time off. It was so nice being able to take two weeks off and not have to think about work at all. I feel like I’m encouraged to pursue my passions in and out of the office. By the end of the festival, I was ready to return to work and my normal schedule. I couldn’t wait to get home and share my stories with my teammates!”

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Q: Any advice for someone who wants to take their side hustle or hobby to the next level while working a full-time job?

Pete: “It's important to use your vacation days to enjoy culture and immerse yourself more in your hobby. If you can’t take an extended amount of time off, just take a break and go to an art exhibit, see a local play, or attend an event that’s related to your hobby. I highly recommend going to this festival though if possible, it's truly a fascinating global event. It's great to see so many countries coming together to celebrate art.

You can find Pete at Fallout Theater on Saturday nights performing with improv group “Sweet Lightning.”

Want to join Team HomeAway or learn more about our benefits and perks? Visit our careers page!

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The One Benefit HomeAway Parents Love

All new parents know the excitement, anxiety, fear and lack of sleep that comes with bringing a baby into the world. Team HomeAway is made up of a lot of parents and one of their favorite benefits to talk about is HomeAway’s generous parental leave policy. Alanna Dayton, our Culture & Inclusion Specialist, just returned from nearly five months of maternity leave and she’s ready to share her story.


Q: What was your maternity leave like with your first child at your previous company?

AD: My manager and team were supportive, but the company wasn’t progressive when it came to parental leave. I was able to take off 12 weeks total, but six of those weeks were unpaid. It was definitely a debate about what to do, but I also thought to myself I only have this time once. My husband and I had to discuss if we were in a place financially that allowed us to take that time off. It made me realize that many people are faced with that decision and some aren’t as fortunate to be in a position to take that time. Add in medical bills and new baby costs and it can be tough to pull off.

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Q: What are your views on parental leave in the general workplace?

AD: I think there is a lot of confusion about it and not many time-off benefits at some companies. After my first leave, it was important to me to find a company that supported parents during this life change. I feel lucky that I was able to find a great job where this benefit was available, and wasn’t in a position where I had to make a choice between spending time with my new baby or going back to work earlier for financial reasons. I have empathy for those who aren’t as fortunate, and have to go back to work earlier than they desire.. At six weeks I could have gone back to work, but the sleep deprivation alone would have made me less productive since the baby was still only sleeping 2-3 hours at a time!


Q: What was your maternity leave like with your second child since you’ve been at HomeAway?

AD: Coming back to work was easier because I knew what to expect having been through the transition before. What was different though was the extra time above the typical 6-12 weeks that is common at most companies. That extra time allowed me to feel more refreshed and energized as I prepared for my first day back. I was able to experience more milestones, and be there for those “first moments” with my baby Sam. Of course there were a couple of tears my first day back when I said goodbye to him in the morning, but I was fine once I got to my desk!

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Q: Now that you’ve experienced two maternity leaves, what are your recommendations to companies who don’t have a solid parental leave program in place?

AD: Talk to women or other parents who have gone through this. At HomeAway, no matter how you have a child you get 12 weeks of time off. There’s no doubt that it’s a big investment, but I think it shows in the culture at HomeAway where children and other life events are not only supported, but celebrated. Comparing photos of my baby at three months old and five months old, I noticed a difference in him physically and recognized how special it was that I got to be there for that extra time. For example, some of my favorite moments during my leave were eating breakfast together with both of my kids. It may seem simple, but I realized how much I value a strong work-life balance and being completely present with my family when the work day is done.

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Want to learn more about the benefits and perks of working at HomeAway? Check out our Glassdoor profile!

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