When Laura Davies 27, from Bournemouth fell pregnant unexpectedly at 19 her life totally changed. She had always planned a career in photography but little did she know the discrimination she would face. Today Digital Mums is sharing Laura’s story as part of the BBC’s #mumtakeover, the UK’s biggest conversation about mums and mental health.
"Becoming pregnant at 19 wasn’t part of my big life plan, but then life doesn’t always go to plan. Just because I was a young mum though, it doesn’t mean people should have walked all over me.
At the time I got pregnant I actually felt really positive about my future. I had the support of my partner Scott, now 28 and was studying photography at uni and planned to pursue my dream of becoming a photographer. I also had a full on sales job to pay my way.
But from as soon as I was pregnant my bosses really weren’t empathetic at all. If I mentioned that I might need time off to go to a planned antenatal appointment they would make it feel like it wasn’t on. Eye rolling and sighs became the norm.
Then just as soon as Max, now seven, was born and I started asking about flexible working, things got really difficult. I needed it so that I could work around my paid child care and also because of my studies. My request was met with the worst possible outcome; it was a flat no and I was told there was no longer a job anymore.
My manager actually said I should ‘stay at home with my child on benefits like all other teen mums’. I could hardly believe what I was hearing. At that moment I felt worthless, like all my contributions to the team and company were redundant as I was now a mother. I was already suffering from post natal depression and inevitably my confidence took even more of a battering.
Suddenly my dreams of being a photographer seemed really stupid. How could I risk a freelance job with a baby? I found that as a young mum I was constantly met with a preconceived judgement. Even now aged 27, and out the other side, most people assume I have no qualifications and many are surprised I'm degree educated and have (now) multiple jobs. That constant negativity rubbed off on me.
So In 2011 I got a ‘safe’ job in a book shop - it wasn't my dream job; just a stop gap before I worked out how I could change my career for the better.
Around that time I also started my blog as a creative outlet for my photography and to share my experiences of postnatal depression and life with Max.
Over time my confidence really started to grow and especially when I was asked to be an advisory panel member for the Young Women's Trust to try and support other young mums’ in a similar position to me.
It was through the Young Women’s Trust that I first heard about Digital Mums. Up until that moment I hadn’t really considered that the answer to being with Max and also doing work I loved could be a career change into social media management. As I read more about social media marketing, It made total sense as a career that would compliment the skills I already had like writing and photography. I was so happy to be accepted on to the pilot bursary scheme so the cost of the course was paid for by Digital Mums themselves.
It was perfect timing as Max had just started school and I felt it was the right time to focus on a career. I wanted to find something that was flexible and used some of the skills I already had as a blogger. The Digital Mums course seemed perfect - I loved the idea of having a job at the end of it that I really could do during school hours.
‘The Digital Mums Course is the best career move I ever made’
I got my first paid social media client within weeks of graduating in July 2016 and ran the accounts for a local rugby club. Since then I have worked with different clients and in July this year I finally took the massive step of leaving behind the security of my job at the bookshop and have become a fully fledged freelance social media manager. It was a terrifying step into the unknown but I am so relieved to say things are going really well!
I now work remotely with a marketing agency in Scotland and I do a combination of content writing and managing social media accounts for two businesses. I’m also working on my blog more and looking at ways to monetise it. It is genuinely a perfect mix of my different skills plus I’m pitching to new clients at the moment so watch this space!
I am proof that being a young mum doesn’t mean you follow a typical path. I'm only 27 now and look at the doors that are opening for me.”
Check out Laura’s blog, Max and Mummy here and find more information on the BBC's #mumtakeover here. We are currently working with specific partners on our Bursary scheme although it is full for this year. We have also been recently approved to offer Professional and Career Development Loans - contact our admissions team here for further information.