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Pursue a career or just get a 'job'?

(12 Posts)
careerorjobdilemma Wed 15-Oct-14 10:59:55

Have name-changed for this as the details would make me identifiable to anyone who knew me.

I worked for 15+ years as a broadcast journalist, mainly radio but tv news too, had two dc, went to live abroad for a year or so so dh could pursue his career (also media) at which point I took what I thought would be a career break (but which turned out to be my career crashing to a halt ...)

When we came back to the UK I was working out what I wanted to do next and unexpectedly got pregnant with dc3. At the time it seemed to make sense for me to stay at home with the dc, dh's career was taking off and we could cope on one salary especially if we didn't then have to factor in childcare costs (full-time nanny was the only realistic option to enable me to work because of shifts, travel, late nights etc).

After a year or so I trained to be an antenatal teacher and did that part-time for several years, however dh's job moved to the middle east on what we thought was a temporary basis (seven years ago ..) meaning that it was no longer feasible for me to work evenings and weekends and the organisation I worked for didn't want me to offer daytime classes in the week so I had to stop.

For the past 4 years I've done a couple of boring and not very well paid admin jobs but gave up the last one after one morning sitting in the office on my own thinking 'what am I doing with my life?'

Dc3 is now settled happily into secondary school so I think it's time for me to get back to work .. but to what?

Broadcast journalism is out - I'm too old, expensive and inflexible plus my technical skills are now massively out of date. I've thought of trying to transfer my experience/journalistic skills to press office work but the jobs I've applied for so far obviously want younger people just starting out and I don't have the relevant experience to try for anything more senior. As dh is away so much and I'm also helping to care for my elderly father I don't want to work full-time if at all possible as I think that would tip me over the edge .. And of course there are very few part-time jobs in that field anyway.

I've emailed lots of press offices asking if I could go in to volunteer/shadow for a while but have so far got nothing back so I'm wondering if it's a complete pipe-dream

So the other option is to forget about the idea of a career and just get a job - much like the ones I was doing but hopefully a bit better paid. I'd still be bored but could find fulfilment in other ways (music, volunteering etc).

I've been trying to work out what I'm good at and what could be transferable. I can write and speak well, I'm good at presenting information and especially good at distilling complex information into an easily accessible form. I have a 'lovely' voice (sorry I know that sounds really wanky but I was a newsreader for a long time so objectively know it's true!). I'm reasonably well organised and able to work out more efficient ways of doing things. Err, that's it ...

If anyone's managed to plough their way through to the end of this epic post blush can you help me put my muddled thoughts into some kind of order?

Notabar Wed 15-Oct-14 11:15:13

Hi careerjbdilemma.

I don't think it has to be an all or nothing 'career versus 'just a job' scenario.

The volunteering idea is good - excellent way of getting your confidence back, updating your skills and working ot what youre good at and what you enjoy after a career break.

Where are you applying, though? And whats your approach?

Rather than write to press offices, I would try a more targeted approach. Local charities are a good starting point. Pinpoint a few and throw them over some ideas as to how you could raise their profile, rather than just sending your CV or enquiring about vacancies.

Look at advertised volunteering opportunities, too. The guardian jobs website often has them, as does, and

You could combine a voluntary position with paid part time work and/or training. Have you thought about doing a social media course or maybe something like word press/blogging course? With your background, you'd pick this sort of thing up quickly and it would get you back into the running when up against bright, young things.

I can tell you my approach if that helps?

I had a broadcast journalism career, too, which I rightly fucked by having two children in my late twenties/early 30s, just as it was all taking off. I eventually retrained in an educational role (seeking that holy grail of term time only working), but after five years of part-time work in that field I am also going through a 'what the actual fuck am I doing with my life?' phase.

Volunteering has given me back some confidence and new skills, and I am doing a course one day a week and have signed up to an agency in hope of getting some regular temp work in the educational field. I'm going to do a Wordpress course, too, and have some vague ideas about setting up a social enterprise. Bit my point is, in the mean time, I am looking at updating my skills, doing a bit of bread and butter work to stay afloat and through volunteering/courses, having a bit of an explore of what I am actually good at these days and what I enjoy.

Good luck! X

careerorjobdilemma Wed 15-Oct-14 13:36:21

thanks notabar ... that's very helpful

do you mind me asking which wordpress course you're thinking of? there's a plethora of them out there ...

NoMoreMarbles Wed 15-Oct-14 13:43:34

would you not consider putting your experience into teaching others? teaching in colleges etc you could do Media studies/journalism etc it could be the fulfilling career you need whilst still keeping your previous experiences going smile

careerorjobdilemma Thu 16-Oct-14 22:39:24

hmm teaching journalism, possibly, but I've been so rude about media studies courses in the past that I couldn't bring myself to change tack now grin

crazyhead Wed 22-Oct-14 17:45:58

I work as a manager in the sort of environment you are applying to (more general comms than press office in my case). I've had lots of applicants in your sort of situation (previous senior job in journalism, time out). Quite a lot of journalists want to come over to press/comms for money and job security reasons so it is a popular choice. If you want press office work, my thoughts are:
* yes to volunteering
* if you are a writer, how about trying to get a few small freelance copywriting jobs to update your CV with?
* you need to prove you understand and can use current digital and social media platforms for a lot of press office and comms work these days.
* if you are a specialist in any particular field, then apply for jobs in that field
* depending on the target job, you could consider CIPR/CIM qualifications (not needed across the board but some industries like them)
* have you tried networking events?

Got to pick up kids so no more time to type, but good luck

Applejack2 Mon 27-Oct-14 06:56:29

Do a post 16 PGCE and teach English and journalism :-)

UnwittingAccomplice Mon 27-Oct-14 07:02:01

Have you thought about corporate communications work, either in house or an agency? We have a large in house team responsible for media relations etc, and they work with lots of agencies who develop comms materials for us (both internal and external, not advertising). From what I can see, it's quite cushy and as it's often project based (the agency stuff anyway) it should be feasible to do part time.

PrincessOfChina Mon 27-Oct-14 07:16:24

I came on to suggest Corporate Comms. I'm a former broadcast journalist and now work in Internal Communications with a but of change management.

You'd need to get some up to date experience, and volunteering would be ideal for that. A school, charity or even small start up business would be ideal for that.

SnowBells Tue 04-Nov-14 01:28:49

Ditto - corporate communications. Many women in that department in my office have the same background as you.

CareersDragon Thu 06-Nov-14 22:47:05

It sounds as if you're in a dilemma about whether to completely change your career direction in order to get more satisfaction out of your working life, but you're not sure in which direction to go...

Talking things over with a Careers Adviser would give you a chance to explore all your options, and hopefully allow you to work out what you would REALLY like to do. The National Careers Service provides advisers: or alternatively, you could pay to see one privately. The Career Development Institute has a geographical professional register so that you can find a qualified professional close to you.
I really like the book, "What Color is Your Parachute", by Richard Bolles.
Is there anything that you would like to do even if you didn't get paid for it?

CareersDragon Thu 06-Nov-14 22:55:55

Oops, sorry. Wrong link.
Use: and use the "search the register" link at the bottom of the page

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