Digital Mums “I'm back in the workplace after 24 years”

“I'm back in the workplace after 24 years”

To complete our Social Media Management Course you need no prior experience, just a drive to #DotheHustle and own it. This is exactly what our incredible graduate Debbie did, read her guest blog below to see the amazing things she has achieved since becoming a Digital Mum.

“In a few weeks I will make an exciting leap back into the workplace after a 24 year break, something which I could barely have hoped for a year ago, in an industry which I had almost given up hope of joining.

In my previous existence my work life was pretty random. In the early days I was a shop assistant, cinema usherette, market stall seller, apprentice sign writer, a paste up artist for a newspaper and even took a job advertised as secretarial but I regularly stood on a pallet raised up by a forklift truck in my pencil skirt and stilettos (before the days of health and safety) to sign write the front of the trucks for the haulage company I worked for.  Safe to say my jobs were varied but never really fulfilling. I’d studied design at college but never found a way in, although tried at every turn to show my creative side (hence the fork lift experience). I temped in the city in secretarial and document production and enjoyed the variety and freedom but spent way too much time making reports look pretty, desperate to fulfill my artistic bent.

Then for my next challenge! Marriage and children! I still worked but no longer in an office. I worked at raising two boys, re-learnt English and Maths to a level where I could understand their homework and tutor them through exams, took on the 14 year renovation of an old country house (not project management but physically laying floors, stripping doors and walls and restoring old coving). I sat on the PTA, helping to organise and run huge events raising large sums of money for the schools and in my ‘spare time’ I studied illustration, painted murals for children’s rooms and sold my art from home. I designed and created websites for my art and typography work, retaining my computer literacy as well as developing new self taught skills. I still regretted, however, never having made it into a creative industry.

Digital Mums “I'm back in the workplace after 24 years”

After divorcing just over a year ago, I realised I would need to do something fairly radical in order to return to paid employment after such a long time. I’d had my fill of random jobs as a youngster and really wanted a new challenge this time around. Of course none of the above is easily transferable to a CV and, from a recruitment agency perspective, I’d been completely idle during my time at home!  When asked for advice they suggested I pay for an expensive secretarial course or an advanced Microsoft Word course in the vain hope that I might be allowed to sit on reception somewhere where I couldn’t do too much damage!

I decided that if I was going to retrain it would have to be in something completely new. I typed into Google, ‘JOBS FULL TRAINING GIVEN, ‘JOBS NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY’, even ‘JOBS FOR IDIOTS!’ but nothing was jumping out at me. Then, quite by chance, I found the brilliant Digital Mums Social Media Management course. I didn’t have much experience with social media but, as I researched it, my varied, if a little crazy, skillset seemed perfect. It was as if someone had designed a job just for me!  

I signed up and, over the next six months, ran my local campaign Reigate Nights, promoting bars and restaurants in Reigate where I live. I studied with an amazing and supportive cohort of other ladies ‘The Dame Judys’, and gained new skills with each week of study, enabling me to regularly taunt my grown up men children who, typical of their age, believed that they had invented computers and the internet and that only they had access to this mystical realm!

Digital Mums “I'm back in the workplace after 24 years”

It was payback time. Kids don’t know more about computers than us oldies, they’re just less worried that if they hit the wrong key something will break and they’ll have to pay for it so they keep hitting the keys until they work it out. After six months of being told by my sons to “step away from my phone”, sick of me droning on about tweet chats and Instagram pods, I finally completed my course with renewed optimism about my future.

Just as I was about to exhale and extricate myself from my computer for a while to think about what I should do next, I met the amazing guys Andrew Ko and Jason Binks, co founders of tech startup Personalyze, who were in the early stages of getting their groundbreaking social media profiling tech off the ground.  They very bravely let me take on their Twitter account and make a start on their other platforms too. They took me to pitch meetings with them and talks on A.I. and to my utter amazement I found that I actually understood the conversations, despite all that time “out of work”. My brain hadn’t turned to mush after all! I can’t thank the guys enough for giving me the confidence I needed to return to work.

In May this year I attended a “Women Returners Insight Day”, organised by SuccessfulMums and Mediacom and was completely blown away, both by the inspirational talks given by some amazing women and the progressive approach Mediacom has towards both flexible working and the diversity of their employees. The encouragement they showed to all the women attending created a buzz of optimism and excitement about what could be possible for women returning to work. Also the fact that women are so well represented, both in the workforce as well as at management level at Mediacom, speaks volumes about their genuine desire to see women achieve.

After an ice-breaker chatting to other attendees, we were asked to stand and speak about the person next to us.  My former teachers will attest to the fact that I’m highly talented at speaking when I’m not supposed to, however I’ve never mastered public speaking, not even standing up to read out the next song in toddler group for my boys! My legs shook almost uncontrollably throughout the whole thing (nothing to do with the unfeasibly high boots I’d worn to mask my short stature!). I didn’t feel nervous, my legs just decided to go AWOL and show me up. However, I got through it and managed to muster the courage to speak to some of the organisers to show my interest. It was a bit of a now or never moment. Ever the class clown and with legs still trying to undermine me I said I was the world’s oldest intern next to Robert De Niro and could I please be the world’s oldest apprentice!

Digital Mums “I'm back in the workplace after 24 years”

The amazing result is that I will soon become part of a Mediacom Returnship Programme and I’m so excited to start the next chapter in my life.  There are a lot of people out there talking about returnship programmes but not enough people doing them.  The ones that do exist quite often seem to concentrate on women who have previously held professional roles, which would have instantly excluded me.  Luckily for me and the other women about to start this amazing programme, Mediacom are proactively attempting to resolve the terrible waste of talented women unable to find a way back into meaningful employment due to a gaping hole in their CVs, whilst at the same time acknowledging that a skill base isn’t always acquired from a traditional work environment. My Digital Mums training has given me a relevant and current skill and it shows that even an old bird like me can retrain and reinvent herself.

After 24 years “out of work” I intend to show that I am as able as anyone else to become a valuable member of a team, despite my age or number of years out of an office environment and to finally work, learn and progress in a job that I enjoy, in the creative environment I always yearned to be a part of. It’s not so much confidence as age related belligerence that spurs me on, that and really relishing proving people wrong who have outdated, jurassic views about what women can achieve after a career break and what non-millennials can understand about tech.

Thank you Digital Mums for giving me an unhealthy obsession with Twitter, Personalyze for trusting me not to ruin your social media accounts and Mediacom for ignoring my shaky legs and responding to the clown in me by giving me an amazing opportunity to return to the workplace. Oh and my boys (I still love knowing more about social media than you do!)."

If you are interested in our Social Media Management Course get in touch soon as there is only one more course available in 2017 starting in October. Alternatively simply click here to book in an informal chat with our Admissions Team.

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