Welcome to the next blog in our Student Stories series where we hear from Digital Mums about their experiences completing our training and their thoughts upon completing it. Meet Becca Jackson, Mum to 2 boys, a very recent graduate from our Social Media Marketing: Associate Programme.
Starting Big School
Last week I took my 4 year old to a settling in session at the ‘big school’ he is starting in September. As we got closer to school and I could see his excitement turning into uncertainty, it dawned on me that I had similar feelings 6 months ago. Starting Digital Mums training 13 years after I last studied anything and after 18 months not working (Ha! In the traditional sense obviously, actually working harder then I ever have before as a Mum of two under 4) felt a little like starting school again.
Buying the uniform
In the next couple of weeks, we’re off to buy the rest of my son’s uniform and I’m planning to make it a fun day out, just the two of us, involving lunch etc. I may be naïve but I’m hoping this will all help him feel ready. That was my approach in Feb this year (was it really only 6 months ago?). Laptop dusted off, apps downloaded, new notebook and diary bought and even a pretty new pen.
All the gear and no idea!? Even if I had absolutely no idea about what was about to happen and even if I was slightly panicking inside about the prospect of being ‘professional’ me again; at least I felt the part.
The first hangout with the full Feb cohort, the first hangout with my peer group (the awesome Judith Kerrs), the first call with my programme partner, the first assignment; all of these were approached with trepidation and many questions. One of the many wonderful things about being 4 is that my son hasn’t thought of all of his ‘first’ situations yet, but I’m sure similar questions will be in the back of his mind: Will they like me? Am I good enough? I’m not ‘cool’ enough? Will I understand what they’re all talking about? Will I ask a stupid question?
For some reason my 10 year career in FMCG marketing where I managed million euro brands and delivered presentations, meetings, pitches was all forgotten. However, this in itself is a reason why I wanted to do the course: to emerge from nappies/park trips/scraping Weetabix (cement) off the floor and get back to me again, or at least a new me. Actually, all of the ‘firsts’ were brilliant, I don’t think I’ve ever felt less judged by a group of women. Every single Digital Mum-to-be has been nothing but friendly and supportive and my Judith Kerr group were simply awesome, I will genuinely miss our Wednesday night hangouts. As was my Programme Partner. Despite him being based in Germany we quickly established a weekly Skype call and his open mindedness to let me adopt the Digital Mum approach of ‘test, measure, reflect, refine’ has been so liberating. The whole process has been refreshing after ten years in a huge layered complex organisation where even the smallest change was like turning a ship.
Learning the Lingo
My little boy asked me what ‘PE’ means the other day and I know exactly how he felt.
It is intimidating when everyone is talking about something you don’t understand and it takes guts to say — hang on what?! I’ll admit I stalked a couple of DM tweet chats before starting the programme and words like hootsuite/ buffer/ moodle/impressions/ interactions etc 100% flew over my head. I didn’t have a clue. However, I soon realised that not many people at the start of the programme did and that it really was OK to ask as many questions as you needed. I often found if I was wondering about posting something on G+ or asking my cohort sure enough someone else would beat me to it. I also learnt that these things aren’t that scary or dare I say it even actually that complicated once you get the hang of it. They were just new to me. And new is good, learning is good and feeling my brain working again has been exciting, motivating and of course a touch exhausting. (Yes I may have blocked out the pain of getting my head around analytics).
Maybe I can’t do this?
I think most Mums on the programme have a part of the course that feels more comfortable to them and part that is more ‘in at the deep end’. The upfront strategy pieces and user persona work was relatively within my comfort zone and experience. However, taking the leap from paper into real life for a real life business was daunting. Actually taking control of the channels, posting first tweets, uploading first Instagram images was scary. Scheduling. Hours and hours spent scheduling. It was totally overwhelming at times. Time, or lack of time, was just plain stressful. With a 4yo and 1yo time is tight. Work was fitted into nap times, evenings, weekends and the odd favour from a granny. Other things had to drop, I intend to spend the next couple of weeks on the phone to friends I haven’t rung and re organising the play dates cancelled at last minute as Granny was free to have the boys. There were moments in those middle weeks where week 20 felt like it would never get here and I would never get to the elusive ‘final week’. But, apparently not, here I am…
Maybe it will all be ok?
As the weeks passed no one complained, no one rang me up and told me to put down the laptop walk away from the mobile and never Tweet again. I slowly, very slowly, began to think ‘wow, I am actually doing this’. Content is going out, people are starting to respond, numbers are generally moving in the right direction…..this is it, I’m doing it! I’m actually running a real campaign for a real client. Maybe there is ‘professional’ life in me yet.
So what comes next? Like my 4 year old I am so excited about the future. After the catch ups with friends and trashy TV, I will be, as the DM gurus say, getting my hustle on and finding work. Or perhaps in true DM hustle style whilst catching up with friends, as it seems its often real life connections are where the work can come from. Whatever happens, I am proud that I have completed the training with two young children, built on and enhanced my marketing experience, delivered results for my programme partner that I wasn’t sure would be possible and still managed to be there for my son’s last day at nursery and school inductions. It is a great feeling to know that whatever work I am doing in September; I can be confident that I will be there on his first day of school. And to pick him up and give him that much needed hug (in reality I’m pretty sure, like me, it will be space, a snack and TV that he needs). To me that’s #workthatworks.
Becca is now a freelance marketing and social media manager - you can follow her on Twitter here