Brianna Brown-Julius had a job — “I just wasn’t making enough to support myself,” she said. She started off as a ride operator at the Mall of America three years ago, then moved to a part-time custodian team lead position at MOA. “I love the team members below me. We have respect for each other. They let make know they have respect for me,” she said.

Working part-time caused more than money problems, however. Her schedule varied, and sometimes she was required to close one night, then reopen the next day. As a single mom with three small children, Brown-Julius said, “It was hard to find child care. It was hard to find a set schedule for my children.”

The scheduling problems were keeping her from being as reliable as she wanted to be — which, in turn, was keeping her from moving up to a full-time position. A job counselor at HIRED, a nonprofit that works with dislocated and disadvantaged workers, provided the resources that she needed. They steered her to reliable child care, so she was able to move into a full-time team lead position at MOA, which offered her a fixed work schedule. HIRED also found her a GED program that offered the flexibility she needs continue her education, work full-time and be a full-time mom.

Now, in addition to loving her job and her team members, Brown-Julius says, “I love the hours. I love the set schedule. I know what I’m doing in my position — so much so that I’m almost ready to go to the next level.”

How old are your children?

I have a 4 year old, a 3 year old and an 8 month old. I was pregnant with my middle child when I started working at the Mall of America. I’ve worked through my pregnancies until the day I gave birth. With my middle child I took two weeks off. With my youngest I took the full eight weeks — it was a complicated pregnancy.

How do you manage three children and a full-time job?

It’s very stressful, very overwhelming. I don’t get much sleep. What’s making me pursue this is my children. I’m all that they have, so I’ve got to show them what’s right and what’s wrong. It doesn’t matter what decision you make, you have to face the consequences. But your life’s not over.

What do you do at MOA?

I’m the youngest team lead in the department. There are 50 to 100 team members just on my shift. They range in age from 18 to 72. There are language barriers, physical disabilities. I have to speak to the Somali lady with a language barrier differently than team member with a mental disability. I have to train in different styles. I do a lot of mental work to hold onto the respect and comfort that I have.

What are the challenges of being a team lead?

Our job’s a little stressful, so I definitely like to show that we can have fun on these eight hours. If we don’t have fun, we won’t get through. I banter and be silly. When I need to get serious, I get serious, but they’ll nod and say, “That makes sense. Thank you for putting it in that point of view.” I have to show the team members how to deal with each other. It’s fun to change your character sometimes.