This week’s career change story is from Laura James, who is now an NCT practitioner and chair of Bromley MSLC. This is the second in a series of guest posts designed to inspire mums thinking about a career change. To find all the stories use Career Change Story in the Categories drop-down.
I was 11 when I fell in love with languages. I walked out of the classroom at the end of my first French lesson knowing right then that when I grew up, I wanted to be a translator. I thrilled in understanding someone who does not speak English, responding and being understood in turn. Facilitating communication. I studied French, German and English at A level, then Modern Languages and European Studies (French and German) at Bath University, before staying on to gain a Masters in Interpreting and Translation in 1998. After university, I had a translating job in the City to build up experience and contacts, before taking the plunge and going freelance in 2001.
Working largely from home on translations, I got used to the risks and vagaries of being self-employed. Never turning down a job, no matter what the deadline or the quantity, or the geographical location, as you never knew when the next job would be. Filling in the time constructively when the work was sparse and burning the candle at both ends when it was not. Work ranged from translating a weekly business report on a Friday night for a large financial company, to interpreting for a group of French businessmen at a car factory and eventually, working alongside midwives interpreting for French speaking African women at Lewisham Women’s Health department.
When my first child arrived, I gave myself 10 months off, before going back to work part time. My daughter went to a childminder two days a week and I tried to cram as much work as I could into those two days, her naps and evenings. It became clear that my former workload and travel was not sustainable with a baby or toddler, or the hours of a childminder. I had to limit my interpreting jobs to 9-5, two days a week, which funnily enough wasn’t compatible with women having babies or 9 out of 10 of the deadlines that were asked of me!
Three years after my first child was born, I had my son and decided to give up the freelance work. What I craved was interaction with adults. It seemed ludicrous to shut myself away with only my computer for company. When he was six months old I was diagnosed with PND. With hindsight, this really low point in my life became a stepping stone to something wonderful.
If I had not had PND, I would not have had some Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and probably would not have been asked the question: what do you really WANT to do with your life? What do you want to change? I was reminded of my time working alongside midwives and how it felt to truly improve one person’s life by making sure they understood what was happening in their maternity care. Being a mouthpiece via which they could communicate their fears, wishes and hopes at this vulnerable stage of their lives. “That’s what I want to do” I blurted. “Make a difference to women. I’d love to be a midwife”.
Eight years later and I am not a midwife. Realistically the three year full time course was impossible to access with my young family and no extended family support nearby. I didn’t think it was fair on my children to take that big step at that point in their lives. Instead, I trained, part time, to be an NCT antenatal teacher. This training fitted in beautifully with their needs. My daughter started school and my son went to a childminder one day a week. I relished becoming a student again, researching articles and writing essays or attending tutorials on my one precious day to myself. By the time he started school, I had graduated (for the third time in my life!) with a Higher Education Diploma in Antenatal Education. I remember saying to a friend that out of all my qualifications, this diploma was my greatest achievement.
So here I am, translator turned NCT practitioner. In addition to my NCT work, which is mostly evenings, I chair a thriving and extremely successful maternity services committee in our local area. The Bromley MSLC listens to parents’ maternity experiences and makes recommendations for improvements where needed. I have been extremely lucky. I am fortunate to be financially secure so I was able to train and now work and volunteer part time, around my children. While I may not facilitate communication by interpreting any more, I hope I am helping to improve communication between health professionals and families at such an important time in their lives.”
For more information about training as an NCT practitioner, visit http://www.nct.org.uk/nct-college.
Follow Bromley Maternity Services Liaison Committee online:
Don’t miss the next career change story: subscribe to the blog and you’ll get notified by email. Next week we hear from Victoria Casebourne whose degree was in Computer Science, then she moved into retail, and now helps other mums create home-based businesses.
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.