In the latest in our Graduate 'What Happened Next' series meet Kate Perrins, 40, from North West London, an events manager at Mumsnet. Kate has two children Oscar, nine and Horace, five and is married to James, an antiques dealer. Here she shares her work life story since graduating as a Digital Mum last year.
"I’m one of those who was made redundant. I’ve always worked in events and after the boys were born I was working as Head of Events at Guardian News and Media. I'd actually been there on and off since I was 26.
Then in February 2014, my position was made redundant, as part of a management cull. Although it wasn't a huge shock, (the warning signs had been there for a while), it was a pretty pivotal moment. Here I was aged 38 and life outside felt pretty daunting.
Searching for a new identity
The hardest part was it came just when I was finally able to see the end in sight. My eldest was at school and my youngest was due to start that September. I was looking forward to bringing in some real income for the first time in seven years. Like many of us, those early years had been spent investing in childcare and running ragged.
The next three months were spent applying for similar jobs, sometimes getting an interview, but no success. Then our amazing nanny left to get married and I decided to take the summer off with the boys, and get back to work (somehow) in September.
Suddenly, it was September 2014. I would drop both boys at school and then had to decide what to do next. This was definitely a 'careful what you wish for' moment. I'd had years dreaming of more me time. Now the appeal of de-cluttering, while watching the savings disappear was fading fast…
Then one Friday morning I was sat in a cafe with three friends - mums who either worked part time or for themselves - and I poured my heart out. I was applying for jobs that I wasn't sure I wanted, let alone I could do. I just couldn't see a way forward to finding flexible satisfying work and was at a very low point.
My lovely friend Ruth told me I needed to take back control - get some new skills, which would give me options and ultimately confidence. 'Why don't you be a Digital Mum?'
I went straight home to look at the website and got really excited. I immediately wrote an application and was delighted to be accepted.
Digital Mums Life
For years I'd sidestepped social media at work as it was always other peoples' responsibility. There was always though that nagging feeling I had to get to grips with it. Suddenly I had my chance.
Thinking ahead, I envisaged opportunities working in marketing, for great clients AND being around for the boys.
I loved everything about the course and especially my client the homeless charity, Crisis. It was tough though but as the months went by and I learned new skills, gradually I found my confidence coming back too.
By the time I graduated in April 2015, I was already working freelance on an event project with my old boss from the Guardian. In turn she introduced me to Justine Roberts, co-founder at Mumsnet. They were looking for an events manager and would I like to apply?
My #workthatworks life
And that’s been my work life since May 2015. I now work four days across five in term time. Mumsnet has a fantastic approach to the working week and we're actively encouraged to fit in sports days, assemblies, Welcome the New School Chicken Morning; whatever you need to be around for your kids.
My commute is a fast walk/run to the office, after drop off and I pick up the boys three days a week. I work from home once a week, which gives me the odd hour at home or to go for a run. Or more likely eat cake with a friend before pick up.
Lovely Emily picks up the boys twice a week. She's a singer/songwriter, incredibly cool and the boys adore her. Oscar recently suggested she do another pick up, 'to get the balance right'. Great that I don't have to feel guilty then Oscar...
And Mumsnet are flexible in the holidays too. This summer for example I’m taking three weeks off for a family holiday in Northern Spain. Then the rest of the time I’ll work four days over four, with 2-3 of those from home. James is flexible too so the boys sometimes go to work with him too.
Of course it doesn't run like clockwork, we're all just winging it to varying degrees aren't we. In the weeks running up to an event, I'm glued to my phone, which all my boys get annoyed about. Fifa 15 is sometimes a babysitter, so I can 'just finish those emails' and if James is away, take out pizza is on the menu fairly often.
Digital Mums gave me direction
The events we run at Mumsnet are all about the issues I've experienced, both as a female and a mother. Workfest 2016 was all about getting women back into the workplace, starting their own business, or changing careers. Digital Mums co-founder Kathryn Tyler was one of our fantastic speakers. As was Claire Sparksman, a Digital Mums graduate.
Social media is a really big part of my job as it's how we publicise our events. Without the course my knowledge would have been severely lacking. But more importantly Digital Mums has given me back my confidence, a sense of direction and a real goal.
At Mumsnet I'm also involved in running Blogfest and Mumstock - a business to business event for companies marketing to Mums. All our projects give us the opportunity to bring all aspects of Mumsnet to life - from the Talk Boards, to Mumsnet Jobs, a jobs-site advertising flexible jobs with family friendly companies.
I haven't taken the traditional Digital Mums graduate approach, but the course absolutely gave me the skills and most of all confidence to get my present job. The whole course was a real inspiration.
The issues surrounding parenting and the workplace have directly affected me for nearly ten years now. Happily, I can definitely see some changes but unfortunately, we all have stories of when we were affected in business by the simple fact that we have a child. Hooray for Digital Mums giving so many of us the chance to get back to work!"
If you're interested in learning more about our Social Media Management Course, go here to read more about what it entails and what you'll be learning.