Real WAHM: Jennyfer Tan, Virtual Assistant and Consultant

jenn_tanName: Jennyfer Tan

WAHM Occupation: Virtual Assistant/VA Consultant

Website: www.jennyfertan.com , www.thetechiemom.com

1. Hi! Thanks for being a WAHM guest on the WAHMderful Life. Please tell me a little bit about yourself, your family, and what work you do from home.

My name is Jennyfer Tan, I’m a Virtual Assistant/VA Consultant, I’ve been married for 10 years (going 11 this August) to Oliver, a graphic designer, and a full time mom to 2 kids, Daniel, age 9 and Anaiah, age 2.

I used to work as IT for a tobacco company, I was doing the “manual” stuff like fixing the computer, troubleshooting hardware, software and network problems.  Then I had to resign to help my mom manage our family-owned garments business until she passed away (due to complications from leukemia) and we had to close down the business to pay for the medical bills that we incurred. After that I  became a partner in a small retail clothing company, but I had to “let it go” to concentrate on being a full time mom to our (then) 3-year old boy.

2. What made you decide to become a work at home mom?

It happened by accident actually.  When we decided that it is best for our family for me to be a stay at home mom  with our 3-year old (2007), we were living as a single income family.  For 2 years, we tried to stay as a single income family, but with our son growing up, the needs of the family increased.  I have always been, and still is, a “computer” person. I have a degree in Computer Applications/Business Administration and I am always ‘in the know’ of anything “techie”.  Around October 2009, I was surfing the net to find some online jobs until I stumbled upon Odesk (www.odesk.com).  I spent around a week just reading everything about it and learning all the processes  involved.  After that week, I signed up, created my profile and started applying.  After 2 days, someone took a chance on me and hired me to do a research and powerpoint presentation, he gave me a glowing feedback and that was the start of my being a Virtual Assistant.

I was just working like an hour or two a day when I started. I thought of it as just a “sideline” to help out with the family expenses.  But when we got pregnant with Anaiah (2011) and Daniel was diagnosed as Twice Exceptional (Highly gifted with Asperger’s Syndrome) (2012)), my sideline  become my job.

3. What are some of your challenges as a WAHM?

Where do I start? *laugh*

When I started, I just thought of this WAHM thing as a sideline, it wasn’t much of a challenge. I work only when I have the time. I didn’t think of it as a real job.  But when the financial struggles became real, that’s when I started to take it seriously.

We were homeschooling Daniel at that time when I was pregnant with Anaiah, so I was juggling homeschooling, chores, work and being pregnant.  My pregnancy with Anaiah was a hard one compared to when I was pregnant with Daniel.  When Anaiah was born, she was (and still is  ), a high need baby, I literally “wore” her around wherever I go, even when I was working.  A month after she was born, Daniel got diagnosed. Our whole routine went crazy after that.  I was breastfeeding full time, needed to bring Daniel to school (Headway School for Giftedness) and therapies (Occupational and Speech), all these plus juggling different clients with different needs and temperaments, dropping off and picking up my husband at the nearest train station (he was still working full time until recently, when we decided that he needs to be hands-on with Daniel as well.)

That’s when I became the mobile VA.  I work everywhere I go, I bring my smartphone, ipad and laptop when I need to bring Daniel to therapies and school, you would see me working at the waiting rooms, parking lots, side streets (yes, I had to sometimes stop and park and work), coffee shops and the food court of malls.  So that’s one of the challenges: there is no set schedule or routine, even if I think I have a schedule for the day, it may change at the last minute.

Another challenge that I face is I am in the mercy of our DSL connection, if the ISP has problems, then I can’t work properly, good thing I subscribed to an unlimited data plan recently so I have a back up, but everybody knows that our telecommunication industry is not so reliable so… I’m still at the mercy of that as well!

4. How has being a WAHM benefited you and your family?

It has benefited our family in a lot of ways! I was able to fully breastfed Anaiah for 9 months (I was asked to stop due to health reasons),  I got to stay at home and see our children grow and become their own person while earning to help out with the expenses.  I get to bring my son to school and help him cope with his struggles and accompany him to his therapy sessions, I never missed a single parents’ orientation, seminars or conferences. Before he started attending school, I was able to fully homeschool him until Grade 2. I get to see my daughter’s milestones and antics first hand. And now that my husband is a WAHD, we get to plan our dates in the not-so-typical times, we get to watch movies on its first time slot where there’s no long queues, have lunch dates if dinner dates are a bit harder to plan.   I get to earn while not braving the commute lines, waiting hours, traffic and the unpredictable weather.

I can also learn more things and am able to increase my knowledge in different areas of technology as I have more flexibility than the usual 8-5 job.  If I have some spare time in my schedule, I go online and research on things that I would be able to use for my “career”.

I also get to meet up with fellow WAHMs, whether it be a meeting or just to hang out, that’s a big plus as well!

5. What kind of services do you offer as a WAHM/What is your line of business as a WAHM?

I am a Virtual Assistant, my strength lies in anything “techie” and research, but I do other things like email management, project management, Word/Excel cleanups, Powerpoint, etc.  I have current clients who have been with me since I started as a VA,  although not full time with them since I don’t have a strict schedule that I can follow, they do email me first if I can do it, if I can’t, then they look for others to do it for them, but I am always given the first priority. I do Blogger to WordPress migrations, setting up WordPress blogs/websites and give VA consultations to WAHMnabees and WAHMs alike.  I also do “techie” consultations like troubleshooting, guidance in using WP, etc.

I have recently partnered up with a fellow VA and WAHM, Marge Aberasturi (www.margeaberasturi.com), aka the Happy WAHM (www.thehappywahm.com) and together we are running VA Support Pro (www.vasupportpro.com).   Her strength is Project Management and Marketing while mine is the technical, so we’re the perfect fit .  We have been part of the ongoing Wahmderful Life Workshop with Manila Workshops and Dainty Mom, we handle the Virtual Assistant part of it.

Comments

  1. regina "ginny" lomarda says:

    Hi Jenn! I am Ginny Lomarda and I was “virtually” referred to you by our common friend, Joy Libunao. I’ve recently resigned from my job as Training Manager at U.S. Peace Corps where Joy was a colleague. I’m still trying to figure out what to do next and it seems like a “regular job” is not on the top of my list. I’d like to try out being a WAHM because I believe it will allow me more time to do other things I’d like to. My kids are a lot older than yours (my daughters are 15 and 24) – my youngest will be leaving for college next year. I really don’t know where or how to start, although I’ve initially looked at Odesk and Freelancer.com. My background is in general management, adult education, training and events organizing. I can also write. I’d really love to hear from you just to help me get started. Thank you! (By the way, Joy promised to introduce me to you during the Fab Fair. I have a booth that will feature the products of my advocacies. See you!)

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