This is the first in a weekly series of guest posts from mums who have changed career, designed to inspire you. I want you to know you that you can do or be anything that you believe you can do or be.
“Until I my eldest daughter was born, I worked in the hospitality industry. Like most 20 somethings I had a lot of energy and managing a pub was no trouble for me. I could stand up all day, work long hours and do what was required for me to be successful in my career. I did the “relief” circuit for a year which meant I moved to a new pub every two weeks. I worked all over the South East and met some lovely people, heard some great bands, and had some brilliant experiences.
When my daughter came along, things changed. It was slow at first. Taking the baby down into the bar was okay, but the smoking ban hadn’t happened, and the extractor fans were on all the time. The bills went up, and the fan noise was in the background constantly so the jukebox became louder… That’s okay, health is really important, and I’m a non-smoker, so I also appreciated the cleaner air to breathe.
Then there was all the “uncles”. When you have a busy pub and children, they get to know all the customers really well. The customers become extended members of your family. It’s a default setting. I didn’t want this. Sure, my daughter was extremely social and confident, but I was terrified that she would wander off with someone. Anyone. Because she was so used to being around lots of adults and she trusted them because she knew them from the pub.
When she was 18 months old I left the hospitality industry and moved into recruitment. I should’ve changed jobs sooner, but I had no idea what I could actually do. It was a customer in the pub who suggested I go into recruitment. He called it the “Sales career of the 90s”, with less hours and more money. It never crossed my mind to look for a part time job.
It wasn’t an easy move. I could do the recruitment job, but my daughter who “worked” with me before, now had to go to a child minder. I also had additional educational opportunities that meant studying away from home for a week at a time. And although it was only a week, I really missed being at home with my family, and I know it was only 4 times a year for 3 years, but I still missed it. Looking back, I should’ve been able to trust my ex-husband to look after the home and my daughter, but I was always on edge because he drank a lot.
A few years passed and I’m now 30 years old, and a senior manager in a recruitment organisation. There’s talk of a directorship and talk of “the board”. All is great in my career. I loved the job, the bosses were pretty fantastic and I didn’t know then how blessed my career had been! I’d worked for Reed, and they were brilliant at developing their staff (lots of educational opportunities) and Working Links my current company were also amazing. I honestly thought that all companies were this great.
In this position of strength, I divorced the ex-husband, and got back with my childhood sweetheart. We agreed to try to get pregnant and it happened almost immediately. And I miscarried at 7 weeks. Working Links were so supportive. A few months later I became pregnant again, and I had to go on permanent bed rest. My employer was just brilliant, and incredibly supportive. My second daughter was born and I started to look at returning to work.
Childcare for 2 children isn’t cheap. A live in au-pair was a probability, but we lived in a three bed house, a new build so there wasn’t any room. Kevin had set up a business from home in the “spare” room, and the baby slept with us, and would move in with her elder sister at some point. Then I became pregnant again, whilst on maternity leave.
I felt really terrible about this. I intended to go back to work, and now it looked like I’d need more maternity leave. My career, in my mind, was in tatters, although Working Links were just brilliant. The opportunity came for voluntary redundancy and I took it. They asked me not to, but I didn’t want to take extra maternity leave and I had no idea about childcare for three children! A baby, a toddler and a ten year old. Finding the right person seemed impossible, and it was.
Kevin, my husband suggested I join his business. Transport. I can honestly say I never ever wanted to work in the transport industry, but he was full of high hopes and optimism, so I joined him. And I hated it. I still did my very best, working around the children. He’s a great boss. But I was used to working in busy environments, bustling with people and the noise… I’ve always worked in noisy places.
I did my best for Kevin’s company, I used my marketing and recruiting skills online in 2007 and I enjoyed that more. By 2010 I had my own business and this still terrifies me. Kevin sold his company last year and joined me at Sarkemedia. We now publish magazines, as well as books and websites, and we can do this all from our very lovely home office. It’s very quiet, and my office has a mural of New York city, to remind me of the hustle and bustle of the city. I get to work very parent friendly hours, and although I talk to people all over the world, I really miss working in the city.
I look back upon my career, and it’s never been what I thought it would be. It seems like every child has brought a new career for me with them.”
Thank you Sarah.
Next week we hear from Laura James who switched from translator/interpreter to NCT antenatal teacher.
Do you have a career change story to share? Please get in touch if you would like me to consider your 500-800 word story on a career change.