This is one in a series of stories written by mums for mums about going back to work after a career break.
Siobhan Russell had always wanted to be a lawyer. but she ended up working in the funeral industry.
But in 2016 she continued her studies to pursue her dream career, at the same time as having three children. Such grit and determination shines through when you read her story.
Wow, I love an action taker like Siobhan!
1. Tell us about your career before your career break
The funeral industry – not for everyone. I loved it. I loved working with the families and feeling that I was giving something back even in a small way.
2. What do you do now?
I’ve just finished my legal practice course and a masters. I want to be a solicitor so I need to now secure a training contract with a firm. This is a period of 2 years working within different areas of law to qualify.
3. How long was your career break? What did you do, if anything, to maintain skills or learn new ones?
I did my law degree in 2008-2011. I did my postgraduate studies 2016-18. During this time I had 3 children.
4. What prompted the career change?
I had always wanted to be a lawyer. To be frank, I couldn’t afford the £12,000 price tag of the LPC. The government introduced loans in 2016 so I went for it.
5. What was your biggest challenge when you went back to work?
I did my law degree with one child and the LPC with 3. I actually started the LPC whilst heavily pregnant with my 3rd child and continued studies a couple of weeks after a c-section. I also returned to work after a year and this was the toughest time.
With 3 kids, a job and studies, I was flat out and exhausted but determined to succeed. I also lost my grandfather at the start of my second year. That was a really difficult time. I threw myself into my work and achieved a distinction on the LPC.
I think my circumstances drove me to prove myself- people were telling me “you have a reason to take time out/to explain why things might be too hard” and it was hard, very hard. I didn’t want to just give up. You don’t get anywhere by giving up.
6. What helped you go back to work?
Definitely support from my husband and family. They helped me to keep believing in myself when I was almost ready to drop with 3 hours sleep and work that needed to be done!
7. What’s been the biggest surprise?
I wasn’t surprised by how tough it was at times. I expected it and breaking into the legal world is going to be just as tough.
However I was the only one on the postgraduate course that wasn’t working in a legal role during my postgraduate studies.
It would be nice to see a bit more diversity reflected throughout as it made me worry often about my age and how far “behind” I was in comparison to some of the younger people on the course.
8. Tell us about your flexible working arrangements?
The funeral home I worked in were pretty good. They arranged my hours to suit school hours. This gave me time in the evenings to study. I don’t think this is easy for women to obtain in the workplace if I’m honest – I was just lucky.
I was always honest with them and they understood if there were times I needed time off.
9. What advice would you give to other women contemplating going back to work?
Go for it. Believe in yourself.
It’s amazing what you can cope with and what you can do. Be disciplined with yourself. It’s scary but push yourself. People often worried about me as I was tired etc but I know my limits and how far I can push them.
You have to honest with yourself and know the best way that you as a person work.
Join the career break project
If you enjoyed this, perhaps because you’re on a career break or you’ve gone back to work or changed career after a career break and you’d love to share tips and ideas with other mums, join the Career Break Project community on Facebook.
In the meantime, if you’d like to connect with Siobhan
Or maybe you know of a training contract or paralegal work on offer ..
Name: Siobhan Russell
Industry: Funeral – Legal
You can find Siobhan on LinkedIn.