Jackie Helfer: A Day in the Life of a Working Parent

September 9, 2019
September 9, 2019 Ripple Effect

Written By: Alex Haederle | Production: Melissa Blum



Meet Jackie Helfer. She’s Ripple Effect’s Talent Acquisition Manager, hard at work every day finding, interviewing, and hiring the next generation of Ripplers. She’s also a working mother, balancing the demands of family life with the details of recruiting the right talent and helping Ripple Effect grow. Jackie sat down to walk us through a day in her shoes, and how she’s used our company’s flexible work arrangements and benefits to personalize her schedule and make work work for her.


6:30 a.m.

Wake up. Coffee. Stretch. Walk the dog.

I love starting my day off on the right foot—with a perfect cup of coffee. I live in Washington DC’s Petworth neighborhood, full of great artisanal coffee shops. My favorite one is right up the street, and I’ll pick up coffee beans every week to keep my French Press hard at work.

This is the most peaceful time of day for me, before my 2-year-old, Luca, and husband, Ryan, are up and in motion. So, while the coffee is steeping, I’ll roll out my yoga mat for a short stretching session. This helps me breathe, focus, and feel limber enough to go conquer the day.

I’ll then grab my coffee mug and take our dog, Basil, out for a short walk around Petworth. We take in the quiet of the neighborhood before the clamor of traffic and construction starts, and circle back home to get the day started.


7:00 a.m.

Check email. Caffeine kick. Visualize the day.

Back in the house, I’ll check my email and schedule for the day. Planning is paramount for a recruiter, so I’m vigilant about blocking out my daily and weekly calendars beforehand, but seeing it fresh in the morning helps me visualize what my day will look like and put me in the right mindset. I’ll then head to the kitchen and start preparing breakfast for the family.


7:30 a.m.

Breakfast with Luca. No screens allowed.

This is an anchor in my day—being there when my son wakes up in the morning, and being there when he goes to sleep at night. Luca is a great toddler; he wakes up at the same time almost every day and absolutely loves to eat. (My husband, Ryan, works in the local food industry, so being a foodie is something that runs in Luca’s veins.) Eating breakfast with him is the highlight of my day, seeing the smiles and hearing the giggles as he devours his food.

I have a rule during this time: no screens allowed. Luca deserves my full attention, so that means no phone, no computer, and no television while we’re eating together. No distractions—just food, a happy mom, and a happy kid.


8:00 – 8:30 a.m.

Drop off Luca. Ready for work.

After we’ve enjoyed a nice healthy breakfast, I’ll get Luca dressed and head out the door so he can start his day. Luca attends a Montessori daycare in our neighborhood, so we’ll hop in the car and drive up the road. It’s always tough to say goodbye, but it makes seeing him at the end of the day that much better.

I’ll then hop back in the car and start my commute to Ripple Headquarters in Rockville, MD. The drive can be a bear some mornings, with road closures, infamous Beltway traffic, and under-caffeinated, over-aggressive drivers to navigate. (My GPS is my best friend.) I’ll have the radio tuned to WTOP or a HR Podcast to keep me up to date with current topics.


9:00 – 11:00 a.m.

Arrive at work. Settle. Candidate interviews.

I typically pull into the work parking lot around 9:00 a.m., depending on how heavy the morning commute is. I’ll get settled at my desk in the office—which changes some days, as we use a daily reservation system for Ripplers to block out their work space—and then jump into my first meeting of the day.

I like to schedule interviews with candidates early in the day, when I’m the most focused and before any team meetings and unexpected interruptions can come in. During interviews, I’m asking a list of pre-written questions that help me understand a candidate’s background, gauge their skills and experience for a potential position, and assessing their cultural fit. I’m evaluating, in other words, will this candidate be a great Rippler? Do they have the values and attitude to make not only their clients successful, but our company as a whole?

Throughout the interview, I’m taking copious notes, and afterwards I will drop those into our candidate database. We use a great software called Workable to track our candidates—it integrates with our external job openings and connects to my calendar to allow for fast, easy correspondence. I can add notes, create personalized follow-up responses, and prioritize communications to meet the hiring needs of our divisions and projects. I can’t imagine doing my job without it.


11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Check-ins. Lunch. Follow-Ups.

After I’ve talked with candidates and added the relevant information to our system to keep things in progress, I’ll check in with our team’s Hiring Managers. I manage a team of about fifteen wonderful hiring managers, across various areas of our business ranging from human resources to the C-suite to on-site clients. I’ll receive status reports from them, talk through any challenges or hang-ups, and work to solve problems they’re having.

Great recruiting requires great energy, so I’ll take a light working lunch during this time. I love taking this time to step away from pressing work for a moment, answer any emails or messages that I’ve missed, and say hi to my colleagues around Ripple HQ.

After I’m fed and energized, I’ll follow up with candidates in our system. This could involve an immediate response to a candidate I spoke to that morning, or a reply to a candidate who’s been in our system for some time and may be a great fit for a position that just opened. We have more than 1,500 candidates in our system, hundreds of whom are flagged as ‘move forwards,’ so I have a deep pool of talent to draw from as needs arise. Sometimes we will win a contract that requires a dozen or more employees right away, so having a comprehensive database of vetted candidates makes it much easier for me to find not just a fit for a position, but the right fit.


2:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Phone Interviews. Meetings. More emails and follow-ups.

This part of the day sometimes mirrors the morning for me—I’ll talk to more candidates over the phone, make updates in Workable, and follow up with those on my list.

Because I support a number of teams across Ripple Effect, I’ll often have meetings in the afternoon that range from the Strategy & Planning Team—a hybrid team of business development, HR, finance, and corporate communications leads—to large leadership meetings and one-on-ones with the C-suite. I like to stay connected and know what’s going on across the company’s divisions, so I can understand strategies and visions and align my efforts with those. Being in person and present for those conversations makes me better at my job.

I spend a good amount of my time across various communications platforms: Workable, LinkedIn Recruiter, Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business, and the job posting site Handshake. Each one serves a purpose, and helps me share information with my colleagues and candidates when they need it.


5:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Beat the Beltway Traffic. Home free. Dinner. Baby Bedtime.

The first part rarely happens, sadly. I will typically leave the office around 5:00 and start my commute home, which can often take an hour. My husband picks up Luca from daycare in the afternoons, so fortunately that takes a huge burden off of me, not having to worry about babysitters or what’s going on with my little one as I rush home.

Because my husband works on weekends, it’s important to me to have dinner with my family. By the time I get home from work and walk in the door, I’m in a great mood and excited to see my guys. We’ll eat, spend time catching up on the day and talk about what’s going on around town. I’ll put Luca down to bed around 8:00, and start to wind down the evening as peacefully as I began the day.


8:00 – 10:00 p.m.

Candidate Follow-Ups. LinkedIn Sourcing. Bedtime.

Yes, these times are not typos, and no, this is isn’t every day. But the reality is, candidates often span multiple time zones, and everyone has a different schedule. So, that means that I’ll be working into the evening, corresponding with candidates and making sure that I’m responsive to their needs. If I work a particularly late night and need extra rest to recover, it’s never a problem to work remote hours the next morning and rearrange my schedule as needed.

I like to use this time of the night to explore LinkedIn at my own pace. I couldn’t do my job without LinkedIn Recruiter, which helps me easily find great candidates by location, experience level, skill, industry, and a host of other qualifiers. It connects with Workable, so updating our pipeline is easy.

When my eyelids start to droop, I’ll power down and go to bed. Then, it’s time to start another day!


Flexibility and Working Remotely

What I love most about Ripple Effect is that we don’t follow the traditional 9-to-5, at-a-desk work schedule. Each of us have different priorities on a day-to-day basis, and the company encourages us to base our day around those priorities. Leadership trusts that work will get done, that we are accessible and responsive to our teams, and most of all, impactful in our work. Our mission is to work smarter, perform better, and sometimes better performance means that time I would spend navigating traffic during a commute is time better spent finding great candidates. It just depends on the day.

On days where I don’t have too many meetings, I like to work remotely so that I can focus on candidate communication and organizing our talent pipeline. I work remote hours, not necessarily dedicated remote days. If I have to take off a few hours to care for Luca—because unexpected things always happen with a two-year-old—I will do that and not have to worry about my desk being empty.

Family is very important to me, and a lot of my family lives in Rhode Island. Being able to visit them and work my normal schedule when I am there, makes work work SO well for me. Recently, I’ve had to travel back and forth between DC and Rhode Island often, and my manager has worked with me all along the way to ensure that I had the flexibility and support I needed.

Trust and flexibility are big at Ripple Effect—ask anyone, and they’ll nod in agreement.

Now, back to finding future Ripplers!



Even with all the time she spends on LinkedIn, Jackie always loves talking to great people, whether it’s a candidate who reached out or talking shop with a fellow recruiter. Connect with her on LinkedIn or drop her a line at jhelfer@rippleeffect.com.



Work Smarter. Perform Better.®

CMMI logo

Ripple Effect Communications, Inc.®

9600 Blackwell Rd., Suite 210,
Rockville, MD 20850