job application, right career

Emily Alpert is a UX/UI Designer at Vodafone and a proud mother. She had spent the majority of her adult life, until recently, in the non-profit campaign sphere. Whilst this is a rewarding sector, she had not been completely satisfied in the role for a long period. Sadly, the barriers in place for a woman’s career progression post-maternity leave are hard enough to overcome, even when simply returning to your previous job. Now, imagine being a new mother and knowing you want to pursue an entirely different role. This was the exact position Emily found herself in before changing her career and studying an intense, hands-on course in a brand-new subject.

Emily made a number of attempts to move away from her non-profit campaign role prior to becoming a mother.

But a mixture of not knowing exactly what it was she wanted to go into and the need to sustain a regular income left her unable to secure the career shift she so desperately wanted. She knew she needed to go into a role which enabled her to be creative and hands-on, but had been unable to find the necessary support to make the switch. “I wanted to explore and do something different, something more creative,” Emily says. “But the only thing I seemed qualified for was exactly what I had been doing.”

Before she was able to make this career change, Emily and her partner decided it was time to expand their family of two into a family of three. This meant putting her career ambitions temporarily on hold as she took time out to raise their new born baby. This didn’t mean that Emily was any less set on pursuing a future career change, it just delayed when it was going to happen.

The barriers to success for a new mother

After six months of maternity leave Emily was ready to make the move back into work. She took this opportunity to seriously look at what options were open to her before jumping into anything and make sure the move was right for her.

Emily looked for freelance projects in communications and marketing, thinking that there may be opportunities on offer which included creativity as well as the necessary flexibility a parent requires. Despite numerous interviews this didn’t come to fruition. Emily herself admits this was in part due to her lack of enthusiasm for the roles themselves. “I was trying to be something and do something that I didn’t have a passion for,” she says. “That had come through more than I had hoped.” However, being a new mother and having the financial pressure of needing to get back to earning an income doesn’t leave much space to figure out your true professional calling in life.  Eventually, Emily put her dreams on hold and went to work for a consultancy.

Emily’s eureka moment

Still frustrated by the stasis she felt her career progression had fallen prey to, she once again began brainstorming. But it wasn’t until one morning when discussing the current job role with her husband that she finally found her breakthrough. When she was describing the more creative tasks that she performs for the consultancy her husband, a full-stack web developer, responded “Oh, that’s what a UX Designer does!”. This immediately piqued her interest. “I started reading all the things UX entails and right away I knew it was perfect for me” Emily explains. “It’s creative and analytical at the same time.” She had finally found her calling.

Trying to find training opportunities

Now Emily was equipped with a clear goal; to gain the necessary training to become a UX Designer. You would have thought that this would go a significant way towards simplifying the process of her career change. She looked into a number of UX training programmes but was met with some fairly cynical responses surrounding her ability to juggle the challenges of parenthood and the workload that training would entail.

When Emily investigated the commitments of various different courses, many responded in a way she wasn’t expecting. She explains that mostly she was just met with the response of: “Well, we can’t tell you what the workload is going to be like. You’re just going to have to do 20 hours of work outside of class regardless.”

Making the bold step into a new career path is a daunting process at any point in one’s life and it is vital that the necessary support is provided; especially when having to also meet the responsibilities of being a parent. Emily began to worry she would never find the right fit. That was when she came across RED Academy London.

Just right

During her first meeting with RED Academy, Emily was immediately struck by their understanding nature. “They seemed like they would be supportive of me and my lifestyle at the time,” she says. “They said they would work with me and that we’d figure it out one day at a time.” Emily was finally able to feel like her aspirations were viable again. RED Academy understood that being a new mother should not be a barrier to realising your career ambitions.

More than offering the necessary support they also offered real opportunities to get stuck into gaining actual experience in the industry. “I felt that being able to work with real clients was invaluable,” she explained. “It felt like I would get the opportunities and skill sets that would be valuable in the marketplace.”

However, Emily still feared that despite her best efforts her dream wouldn’t come to fruition and that in actual fact she was jeopardising her family’s financial security. “I felt like it was a big risk,” she says. “I thought, ‘Omigosh what if I spend all this money and I’m no closer to finding a career?’” RED Academy’s supportive nature allayed those fears and allowed Emily to take a step towards her future.

Challenging but successful

The work was exhausting, especially on top of Emily’s responsibilities as a new parent, but it was not overwhelming. This was aided by the fact RED fulfilled their promise to be supportive, and luckily her classmates proved to be equally as caring. She was also relieved to discover that her classmates were of all ages as she had previously been concerned that she would be the oldest in the class.

Along with the invaluable training she received, RED Academy also helped her build her CV and portfolio. This meant that she was fully equipped with the necessary tools to make it in the world of UX Design. So, despite that fact it was difficult to juggle everything, she was provided with all the support she required to feel confident in her new venture.

Once graduated, it took Emily four months to secure a new job. When she finally secured a position, it was the perfect one. She is now the UX/UI Designer at Vodafone, and her new workplace provides Emily with both the creativity she wanted to have in her role as well as the collaboration and support she required.

Of course, working and being a parent is still challenging. “It’s definitely been an adjustment,” Emily admits. “It’s still tiring to work all day and then come home and do nursery pickups, dinner and bath time.” Which is completely understandable.

However, now Emily is in a role that makes her happy and allows her to progress her career the way she wanted to. “I wouldn’t want to do it again exactly, but it was worth it” she quips. And it certainly was. Emily proves that you should never give up on your dreams, despite the barriers you may find yourself confronted with. Just make sure you find yourself the right support and training to help you along the way. Most importantly, trust the process!

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