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Career change after break - Social media and marketing am I being realistic?

(13 Posts)
Geobaby Wed 26-Oct-16 08:58:25

Help. I'm feeling so overwhelmed and worried that I'm just going round in circles, panicking and not getting anything productive done.
I have been out of the work force for 3 years raising DC (DD1 is 6 and DD2 is almost 3), and so far we have managed to survive on one salary. However, we now realise that we barely have enough get by and need to do something about it. DH is looking for better paid work, but realistically I need to get a job.
Problem is I'm having a total career/personal wobble. I've been a bit of a flake with my career...started in one thing, did it for 4 years (including getting a master's degree in it), and then switched back to my original discipline (a science that I had not worked in previously) in 2009 (after getting another masters) and resigned from that when had DD2 in Sept 2013, having already taken a year out 2010-11 for mat leave with DD1, so not really gaining a huge amount of experience. My experience working for a highly competitive oil company didn't go well...I fell foul of their awful performance review/ranking system and even though I worked hard, got praised to high heaven during the work, was nailed to the wall during my reviews. It seemed that whatever I did, I just couldn't win. This has absolutely destroyed my self confidence and i have literally been dreading having to get back into the work force. I now find myself at 40 feeling totally worthless. I can't sleep or eat for the worry of 1) not being able to pay our bills, 2) fear of not being able to find a job that pays enough for childcare (pre and after school club and f/t nursery/child minder for DD2). We've worked out that I would need to earn £30k gross to cover the childcare and help contribute to our monthly finances. In my previous job as a scientist I used to earn about £50k, but I know that I'm not going to be able to earn this kind of money now and am resigned to that fact. I have recently started a w/e job at the local super market which contributes about £300/m to our income, which is a help, but things are still tight. I also volunteer for a couple of hours a week with Age UK visiting lonely OAPs.

The long and short of it is that either I need to find a £30k job local to us (having us both commute to London won't work out for child care drops etc) in West Sussex, or find something that I can do from home or during nursery hours until DD2 at school and we can use before/after school clubs for her too. For the past 18m or so I have had an online retail business selling fabric (as I love sewing), so have experience of setting up running my own (small) business. The business ticks over, but all money I make gets reinvested into new stock, so I don't earn a salary. I used all my savings to set the business up, and to take it forward would involve a serious time and financial investment. But I have learnt lots in the process, including utilising social media to market my business. I find this aspect pretty interesting and fun although am totally self taught, and probably know very little in the grand scheme of things, but is this something that I could make a career from? I would be so grateful for any advice in moving forward with this. I know there are online course etc that I can take, but need advice from people that work in this field as to what I can do to move forward with this and the right courses to do etc. It may well be the case that it's not financially viable for me to work until DD2 is at school, in which case I want to use the next 2 years as efficiently as possible to improve my chances, including doing some p/t voluntary work if it gets me experience. I am a hard worker and bright, and a nice person, but I am crippled by self doubt and fear of financially sinking. I'm feeling very tired (and hormonal, which isn't helping!) but I cried all night last night and was shaking with anxiety. I can't go on like this. I feel like such a failure...Crap mum, crap wife, crap at previous job, afraid of the future. DH is wonderful and has been very supportive. He works really hard and is very senior, but I know that he thinks I''m being a loon, and I fear he will lose patience with his mad wife.
Sorry about waffling on for so long. If you read this far, thank you!

TheABC Wed 26-Oct-16 09:24:55

Firstly, you are not crap and I would definitely look at addressing the anxiety and boosting your confidence. Regarding the social media/marketing career change, it is possible to do so as you sound bright and have a little experience, but (unless you are in london), you are unlikely to walk straight into a 30k job. They tend to be aimed at senior execs or junior management with several years of experience under their belt and usually a degree equivalent in the discipline. Sadly, marketing (unless you go into the big companies) does not pay as well as science.

Having said that, its a fast moving industry and you can build up your portfolio (and salary prospects) quickly. If you are determined to change, take a look at CIM's courses as they offer a good foundation in the discipline and they are respected through the industry. It's also something you can do alongside working (if the kids allow) and some employers will sub you for doing it.

If you must earn 30k+ immediately I would actually look at ways to utilise your masters as not many people can bring together all the skills you mentioned - science + marketing + selling. Web writing for a research journal, blogging for medicine manufacturer or writing up video scripts for an online pharmacy. Perhaps the way forward for you could be a mix of jobs. I have done a lot of short term marketing contracts in the industry and I really enjoyed it - no office politics and being able to choose my employer.

Good luck. You are NOT useless; you sound bright, hard working and very flexible. I would hate to be your rival candidate for the same job.

hutchblue Wed 26-Oct-16 10:27:41

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

2014newme Wed 26-Oct-16 10:30:53

Hutch, nobody will hire a business coach that puts"hugs" and kisses. Just a little tip.

bluecashmere Wed 26-Oct-16 10:39:41

I don't think you will find it easy to get a social media job for same reasons as PP gave, but if you feel you have social media skills that will support small businesses you could set up as a consultant or social media manager for local businesses that need an online presence but aren't very good at it. You could agree a rate for a set number of hours a month.

hutchblue Wed 26-Oct-16 14:53:38


I disagree with you!

My coach puts 2 kisses at the end of every email she writes and she just made $2 million this year in sales and it's only October.

I don't attract everyone with my style, nor do I expect to.

You are probably not my target market smile And if I push away some people - like you - that's fine too smile

Some people want kindness and support as well as business advice.

Also, I have to disagree that you can't find social media work. The internet is a gold rush right now. If you want to make money it's entirely possible to make a business out of anything right now. I've connected with quite literally hundreds of people who are making money right now. With almost no training.

I'm not saying everyone will succeed. But if you are persistent, connect with the right people, keep learning and accept you're going to make big mistakes along the way, get judged constantly, learn to deal with that fear, gain some haters but also gain some incredible followers (x1000) then you can really do this too.

It's not for everyone.

For this ride I guarantee you will need hugs and some serious support. But is it worth it? A life of freedom based on your terms?

You can answer that I'm sure smile


peardroplets Wed 26-Oct-16 19:11:12

Have you got a university near you? Have a look for science comms jobs. I think you are being completely down on yourself as you have a very marketable skillset. Science plus marketing/comms is a good combo. Good luck.

flopsypopsymopsy Wed 26-Oct-16 21:07:48

If your primary driver is £££ then i would look at working in science again. It sounds like you have studied very hard which is something that a lot of people are unable to achieve. It was unfortunate you had a wobbly start and problems at your last job but it is not indicative of what the future holds. You need to reaffirm positive things about yourself over and over until you start to believe them (i.e. I am a hard worker, I am organised, I can make a success of things going forward, etc. etc.). Every small win you achieve, you pat yourself on the back. Be your own best friend.

I don't know much about social media but I would imagine lower down the ladder it is very competitive and I very much doubt you would be able to earn £30k from the get go. I imagine it is a bit like admin jobs which attract hundreds of applicants.

Geobaby Thu 27-Oct-16 12:14:39

Thanks for all you responses. I am feeling a lot more positive. I'm still a little overwhelmed, but I can see that I all is not lost. Another option for me is going back to my career in Public Health which I did for a few years before the oil company. I have contacted my previous big departmental boss to ask for advice as he still works in that area. The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of digital marketing. Once DD2 is in school then I don't need to earn £30k right off the bat as wrap around childcare is a lot cheaper, and so maybe reinventing myself as a social media spod might not be as unreasonable. One of my neighbours has his own digital media company, so I'm going to ask him if I can visit his office and hang about with his social media experts for a few hours and get the low down. Another option for me is to pursue the retail sector...i have spoken with my manager at the supermarket about following the management route and that is a definite possibility. That is appealing in that I could hopefully work relatively local to home.
We have kind of resigned ourselves to the fact that realistically I might not be able to go back to work properly until DD2 is at school (Sept 2018), in which case I want to make the most of the next 2 years skilling up. The supermarket has offered me some extra hours, so that will help with our finances a bit.
TheABC you made some really creative suggestions, thanks! Where would I even begin to look for jobs web writing for a research journal, blogging for medicine manufacturer or writing up video scripts for an online pharmacy, etc? Because this is an area that I'm unfamiliar with I don't know where to start!

TheABC Thu 27-Oct-16 22:01:54

Take a look at Upwork and powertofly as they offer remote writing jobs of the sort that I mentioned. Bear in mind Upwork's fees when you are submitting proposals for jobs - they take a big bite of your profits! Believe it or not, places like fiverr are said to be lucrative as well - the trick is in the up sell apparently, as you quickly bump up from $5 to $25 for additional services. All of these sites are American, but the time difference can work in your favour (around kids). I know there are uk freelance sites offering a similar match up service, so it's worth digging around to find the right one for you.

Another option is to look through companies you would like to work for on LinkedIn and send off a speculative proposal based on their needs and your skillset. Finally, I would also keep a keyword alert running on reed (science writer, etc.) as agencies do sometimes advertise for these positions.

LadyLapsang Wed 02-Nov-16 21:23:30

Do you have to live in Sussex? If you lived in London you could both commute and I don't think you would find it difficult to get a decent position.

MrsD28 Wed 09-Nov-16 20:42:57

Hi OP - I hope that your research into your possible career move us going well. I'm afraid that I agree with PP (sorry to be discouraging!) that you will probably find it tough to transition into social media marketing, and you definitely would not be able to earn anything like £30k in that field anytime soon. The entry point for social media jobs is usually to be a "community manager" or junior social media exec - which usually involves doing day to day housekeeping on a social media account / profile. These jobs are very entry-level, and tend to pay £20k - £22k (in London). The sad truth is that you would probably never be considered for that sort of role because of your age - fairly or unfairly, social media is seen as a young person's game ("digital natives" who have grown up using social channels). There are, of course, 40-something social media experts, but they will usually have ten years of experience behind them. You won't be told this outright, of course - but you will almost certainly be passed over for someone younger (most likely in their early twenties).

HOWEVER, as PP have suggested, you could probably use your social media skills in a role within your specialist field. A science-focused company or organisation (with less marketing expertise) might value your science skills / knowledge, with your social media skills as an added bonus.

If you are thinking about trying to work in digital marketing, there are a few things you can do to up your skills. First, learn about search (both paid and unpaid) - SEOMoz is good for unpaid and Google Adwords for paid - both have training materials. Teach yourself Google Analytics (free training materials are available online), a bit of UX, and basic HTML. Any hard coding skills will be highly valued - there is relatively little value (in terms of earning potential) in just being good a social media.

Sorry again to be discouraging - hope this helps!

DaisyFranceLynch Sat 19-Nov-16 19:14:15

It is sometimes easier to move careers within a large organisation than applying from outside.

Not sure if this is practical but would it be possible for you to get a job in one of the areas you previously worked in, and then work on moving into that organisation's media or marketing team (by retraining, getting to know your company's marketing team)? I have just done this in my company - it has taken a year and a half from deciding to do it to actually moving teams, but it is possible. And I feel so much happier and more confident about my career now.

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