Many of our mums understandably feel a bit nervous in the run-up to the start dates of our training. Those age old worries of ‘what if I can’t do it?’, ‘how will I fit it all in?’ are real. This was certainly the experience of Sam Bradley who recently graduated from our Social Media Marketing: Associate Programme. But luckily she had nothing to worry about, check out this blog where she shares how with the support of her peer group, the Digital Mums Mothership and her own kick-ass drive to succeed she is now qualified. And despite literally just graduating she ALREADY has a job...
I was raised in a home that wasn’t particularly positive. My parents were very negative people who fought often, and eventually divorced when I was 13. As a result, I grew up lacking confidence in my abilities, floundered quite a lot, and suffered horrendous postnatal depression after the birth of both my girls, Imogen, 12 and Elizabeth, 2.
Even though I got good A Levels and enjoyed a relatively successful PR and Communications career, when I hit 40 I felt unfulfilled; that I’d never really found my ‘niche’ or reached my potential. When I went back to work after maternity leave in 2015 my job felt a bit trite and meaningless, and the nationwide travel to visit clients became a major pain.
My sister-in-law mentioned Digital Mums to me and I asked for an info pack, the contents of which I toyed with in my mind for the next six months. My skills meant I’d be eligible for the the Associate Programme where you train with a live business. It needed a good 15–20 hours of my time a week. It was tempting, but I didn’t want to work and retrain, so doing the course meant jacking in my job and going at it hammer and tongs. What happened if I hated it? I’d become risk adverse and kept thinking of all the things that could go wrong.
I spoke to the team at Digital Mums several times and poured over the information thousands more until I decided to take the plunge. I’d built up some savings and what was the point of them just sitting there? They could be the key to a more flexible and fulfilling life. I guess it was either the course or a boob job and I thought the course would open more doors! Digital Mums promised me I wouldn’t regret it and helped me get into the mindset that they would give me the skills to make it work.
I felt empowered as soon as I started the course. Does anyone remember He-Man from the 80s? It really did feel like I ‘had the power’ in my hands to succeed. I was amazed at how ‘real’ the course materials were and how connected I felt even though I was learning online. The assignments are both creative and strategic and you can’t jump so far ahead that you feel swamped.
I had a bit of a panic when I found out who my Programme Partner was, though. A private tuition agency?! I was disappointed that I hadn’t been given a really exciting new product to push and wondered how I could create a compelling campaign. I’d read some negative things about private tuition, too — like how it has a bit of a reputation of being ‘elitist’ and ‘hot-housing’ children, and adding to their pressures. I decided to tackle some of these perceptions in my campaign and focus on the many reasons parents seek private tuition for their child — majoring on the fact that parents simply want the best for their youngsters. I didn’t want it to be all about getting ‘top’ exam results. It should focus on instilling a lifelong love of learning and boosting confidence. My Programme Partner pointed out that private tuition was akin to an athlete having a good coach; someone who could help a child make the most of what they’ve got. I developed a campaign which would aim to celebrate everything that’s good in education and the power that positive human relationships have in helping children to flourish. There was plenty of inspirational material available, but I was particularly inspired by educationalist Sir Ken Robinson who said that education should be about farming, not factories. I called it #YouDidItForMe.
I built up both of my Programme Partner’s platforms — Facebook and Twitter from scratch. Initially I was so scared to post anything in case I caused a social media storm or offended someone, but like anything you do regularly it soon became second nature and before long I could rattle off posts quicker than the chocolate biscuits disappear in our house. There were loads of highlights, but I was amazed by how easy it was to engage with high profile influencers. Richard Branson (OK, it was probably someone from his team, but hey) commented on one of my posts, and Digital Mums and some parenting bloggers with big follower numbers shared a post I wrote asking people to comment on who inspired them when they were growing up. Successes like that make you feel like you’re smashing it and give you a massive confidence boost.
Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of frustrating moments. Twitter analytics played up a bit, campaign fatigue set in towards the end, and don’t even get me started on influencer week! But as the course evolved I began to see similarities between the Digital Mums journey and my campaign. What gets you over the finish line is the support you get from the people around you — your cheerleaders. There were plenty of ‘what the hell am I meant to be doing’ bits, but my peer group - Abi, Mel and Lucy, and the Digital Mums Mothership and social media guides kept me grounded and (relatively!) sane.
If you’re considering doing the course, I’d recommend bearing these points in mind:
- You might not get the most exciting programme partner. Don’t be too despondent; they’re giving over their platforms for you to learn on and there will definitely be something you can do to create a compelling campaign. Remember that all the skills you learn will help you with future clients
- Keep an open mind and don’t be too hard on yourself. The course is all about test, reflect, refine and it doesn’t need to be perfect. You’ll get better results some weeks than others, and that’s ok, it helps you learn and improve
- You’ll definitely have all the skills you need to be job-ready at the end. Three weeks before the end of the course I was offered a job with the Wessex Cancer Trust who support people living with cancer in our local area
- Don’t worry about feeling lonely or isolated. The flexibility and support the course gives you will far outweigh the challenges
- Lean on your peer group. They’ll get you through the inevitable 2am wobble.
Writing this, I’m reminded of one of Professor Stephen Hawking’s quotes, who passed away while I was running my campaign. He said:
“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. However difficult life may seem there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”
I graduated in May and I’m already working at the Wessex Cancer Trust. The job is mainly PR & Comms, but Social Media is playing a huge role in engaging with influencers and raising awareness of the charity. I couldn’t have got this job without the skills I learnt through Digital Mums. I’m working part time and plan to freelance too in the future.
My savings have gone for the time being, but I’ve definitely found something I can succeed at, and gained a more flexible and fulfilling life in the process, and that’s priceless.
So thanks Digital Mums, #YouDidItForMe.
If you’re interested in upskilling in social media and forging your own flexible career, sign up here for more information on our Social Media Marketing: Associate Programme. Our next cohort starts in January 2019. It’s a popular one, so don’t miss out!