Maggie Mundwiller was in a bind: She landed a job interview, but she didn't have child care. So she took her toddler to the interview... and she got the job offer!
Her TikTok video chronicling her toddler-assisted job interview went viral, and now the St. Louis, Missouri, mom is hoping to bring attention to the way women find themselves crushed by the competing demands of motherhood and the American workplace.
Mundwiller had her second son, Mylo, in March 2020, in the middle of the pandemic. When Mylo was six weeks old, she was laid off from her job of 13 years as a national sales trainer.
"I loved my job so much, and I was totally crushed when I was laid off," she said. "I thought, 'Oh my gosh, what am I going to do now?'"
The economic recession during the COVID-19 pandemic has been called a "she-cession" for its impact on working women. "You have to start over," Mundwiller said. "But for somebody like me, I can't start over. I've been working towards this job for years. And it's so heartbreaking."
Mundwiller attempted to find another job that matched her skillset, but the odds were stacked against her: Not only was she looking for employment in the middle of a pandemic alongside so many others, she was also doing so with an infant at home.
With her husband Andy at his own job and without money for childcare, Mundwiller navigated the job application process around Mylo. Some days, she said, she had to cancel Zoom interviews because Mylo's nap schedule would suddenly change.
Recently, a company Mundwiller had been talking to asked if she could come in for an interview the same day because they had executives in from out of town. Mundwiller initially declined, citing her lack of childcare. She was surprised by the company's reply.
"He responded, 'We're child friendly,' with an emoji with heart eyes, which is so kind," Mundwiller said. "I was like, 'We'll be there!'"
Mundwiller decided that Mylo, now 1, would be interview-ready too. He wore a hand-me-down seersucker suit and brought his own resumé, with an objective to "eat all the snacks," and a skillset that includes "spotting a dog a mile away."
Mundwiller and Mylo had a great interview. "He drooled on my hand, and they saw it," she laughed. "I wiped my hand on my outfit, and they still shook it!"
She took video and posted it on TikTok "for my mom and my sister and my five other followers," and it went viral. The video now has over 9.7 million views, and Mundwiller has over 47,000 followers.
Mundwiller wants to shine a spotlight on issues for moms like her. "I feel this responsibility," she said. "Now that I have a voice, it's not just mine. It's the voice of every single person who has commented or every mom who's sitting at home and can't go to an interview."
Some commenters criticized her for taking Mylo to the interview. "For people who are in transition, it's not as easy to just set aside money for child care," she said. "You have to make sure you're paying your mortgage, and you're buying groceries... The reason I brought Mylo with me was because I'm not paying for daycare right now because I don't have a job."
Mundwiller, who first became a mom at the age of 16 to son Tristan Noelke, 21, wants to bring attention to the need for more inclusive and supportive workplaces. She has even started collecting the names of family-friendly companies to help other moms find them.
Lauren Smith Brody, author of "The Fifth Trimester," told TODAY Parents she agrees more companies need to be open to opportunities like "toddler friendly interviews" and other ways for parents to re-enter the workforce.
"Particularly at this moment — not just because of the national economic emergency of needing to rehire the mothers who were forced out of the workforce during the pandemic, but also because this kind of personal-life visibility is a positive," she said. "It's sustainable, profitable, and here to stay."
Mundwiller got a job offer from the company — ultimately, she turned it down because it wasn't the right fit. Still, she's grateful for the experience.
Brody pointed out, "If Maggie Mundwiller was able to conduct one of the most high-stakes career moments — interviewing for a job when out of work — with her child in the frame (dressed in a suit and fancy shoes no less!), just imagine what that says about her ability to perform in any other stressful work situation. She’s adaptive, creative, and real. And yes, professional.
"THIS is the new definition of professional."
• Watch TODAY All Day! Get the best news, information and inspiration from TODAY, all day long.
• Sign up for the weekly TODAY Parents Newsletter!