Career shift: Preparing for an empty nest
It was the summer of 2017 and I had spent 6 weeks in America visiting various Universities with my teenage son. The fact that I had a son old enough to be going to Uni was scary enough but even scarier was the fact that, at 37 years old, I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do with my own life. How was I going to prepare for the empty nest?
I had worked full-time from the age of 16 and then worked part-time when my children came along. I felt like I always just bumbled along, continually putting my kids first and not really fulfilling any career pursuits or goals of my own. Don’t get me wrong, having children will always be my greatest achievement, but when it comes to the point when they start to grow up and go their own way, you realise that you need to start thinking about yourself and your own aspirations.
My moment of clarity happened somewhere in the middle of a beautiful campus in the University of Michigan…..I suddenly realised what I wanted (and needed) to do - I was going to go to Uni and get myself a degree! Much to my son’s relief, I said I would pick a different one to him ?
And that was the start of the journey that I find myself in the middle of right now. As soon as I could, I enrolled in the University of Middlesex based in Dubai (where I live) studying PR, Media and Advertising. With excitement, apprehension and a lot of nerves, I set about starting my first year as a ‘mature student’ (mature in age compared to my classmates, maybe not so much in nature some might say!)
It was quite a daunting prospect walking into lectures on the first day, as I was on average, 20 years older than everyone else. However, that feeling was short-lived and I was made to feel welcome from the very start. At this point, I have to give a shout out to one of my lecturers Steve, as he was very understanding of my circumstances as a Mum. In fact, it is essentially down to Steve, that I now find myself in the position I’m in at present.
Steve invited me to take part in an event called ‘Mompreneur Mentoring Walk’. This is where students or ‘mentees’ so to speak are paired up with ‘mentors’ or industry experts. The professionals share their experiences, their advice, tips and contacts and anything else that may help you on your journey. It was at this event that I met Louise Karim, the Managing Director of Mums@Work. Louise and I got chatting and she was kind enough to offer me an Internship, helping out in their Marketing Department during my summer break from University. And that is where I find myself at the moment, working for a company that inspires and enables women to go out and be the best they can.
The reason I wrote this blog is because I think a lot of women will resonate with that feeling of not knowing what to do with themselves once their children grow up. As mothers, we always put our children first and this can sometimes mean losing our own sense of identity. In the last year, I have grown in confidence and character and I feel that making the decision to do something for myself has been one of the best things I’ve ever done.
I have just completed my first year as a student with two distinctions and two merits, I’m working for a great company and have made new friends there that I love…three things that would never have happened, had I not made that bold decision back in Michigan. So I guess my advice to you would be, don’t let fear or apprehension hold you back. Make that brave decision, take a leap of faith…you never know where it might lead you!