Can upskilling fix the career gap? One mum shares her experience
Ready to return to work after a career gap, but worried your skills and experience are out of date? Find out how one mum upskilled to launch a new post-baby career.
Like many, I fell into my career gap. It wasn’t planned, it just sort of happened. After a successful career in TV production, I decided to take some time off when my daughter was born in 2008.
Taking a long break was never on the agenda, just nine months maternity leave and heading right back to the city to pick up where I had left off. I loved my media work and even becoming a mummy wouldn’t change that for me.
Then my husband got offered a great family posting in Asia, and I became a trailing spouse and everything changed overnight.
We lived in four countries in five years
We packed up our bags and began a whirlwind journey which would see us move through four different countries over the next five years. It was exciting, daunting and scary all at the same time. Travelling and meeting loads of new people were some of the most amazing experiences for us as a family, but often I would feel like something was missing.
As my daughter got older and needed me less, I realised how much I missed work. I initially picked up some freelancing production management projects, but quickly realised that so much had changed in the time I had ‘taken out’.
Technology moves fast in everyday life and even quicker in telly. I needed to get back up to speed, and fast, but how could I do this? My time travelling had also ignited a passion in locations, and I really wanted a way to find a way to combine the two.
Where do I go from here?
Deciding to retrain was the easy part. Finding the right course to fit around me, my skills and would enable me to study remotely, was slightly harder.
Google came to the rescue and was an excellent source of research for me, showing the thousands of online courses I could do remotely from Qatar. But, how was I to choose the one that would lead me back to full-time work?
In the end, the choice was easy – I just had to decide what bits of the course criteria were important to me. I was educated in the UK and wanted a recognised qualification for the 18 months of study I was about to commit to.
During my time away from production, TV content had evolved from traditional terrestrial broadcasting diversifying into the digital arena creating millions of YouTube Stars, along the way. So for me, the obvious choice was to take up a diploma in digital marketing and update my production knowledge to include the social media elements which were currently dominating the market.
I knew how to update my Facebook status, and tell my family back home how were now getting on in the Middle East (yes, we had moved again) but did I know how to really use social media for a business?
Going back to school
So nearly 18 months ago, I embarked on the Concise Training City and Guilds Diploma in Digital Marketing. A bit of mouthful for sure, but it’s been a fantastic tool to get me back to the workforce.
I have learned how to write marketing strategy plans, create a website, target audiences, and the list is endless. In that time it also gave me the confidence to realise that I am good at what I do, and half the battle of returning from a career gap is to have the courage to come back.
I won’t say the last (nearly) 18 months have been easy, they have been anything but. What I can say is that without the course I wouldn’t be writing this blog and I wouldn’t have started working as a freelancer here in Qatar.
It has allowed me to combine my years of experience and learn skills to launch a new service in Qatar for International Film Crews. I have loved every minute of it, even though there have been blood, sweat and tears, but in a few months, I graduate and that’s when the real work begins!
So what would what you do to upskill your skillset? Even if you’re not in a career gap, retraining can open a whole new world, I would love to hear your thoughts on going back to school.
Shaheen Gould is the Founder and Head of Production Support for Media Queen TV.