The Mid-Maternity Leave Career Change
A new mom puts on her student hat in pursuit of career change for a better work-life balance
Shadi Baker had jumped into the tourism industry feet first when she was in her twenties. She loved to see the world, so being a travel agent seemed like the perfect gig for the lifestyle she wanted. She could spend tons of time traveling. It was exciting.
But years later, she was a new mom on maternity leave and dreading returning to a job that was only getting more stressful. Thanks to the online tourism industry, pressure to work long days was at an all-time high. “I would spend hours getting travel plans ready for clients and send them a quote,” Shadi says. “But then they would book online to avoid the $50 service fee. It was very frustrating.”
Shadi needed to jump this sinking ship, and she had until the end of maternity leave to land on her feet in a new career path. She liked digital marketing—she had managed the store’s online presence and loved it. But two or more years of extra schooling was time and money she didn’t have. It was a tricky predicament. “I was stressed,” Shadi tells. “I had finally found my calling, but I couldn’t get to it.”
The inside track
Luckily Google came to the rescue (“It really is your friend,” she tips). A quick search for “digital marketing school Vancouver” turned up a link to RED Academy’s website. “I did more research on RED and thought it wouldn’t hurt to make the call and have a chat,” Shadi tells.
Discovering that the Digital Marketing Professional program was 12 weeks long and covered all the bases, Shadi suddenly felt her calling opening up to her again. “The be
st part was that, when you finished, you had help getting a job,” she says. “You weren’t left on your own.” She could hit the ground running and start earning money for her family after just three months of hard work.
“I wanted a job that’s flexible enough to be able to leave whenever my daughter needed me.”
Despite the shorter program, leaving a baby to go “back to school” for any length of time can be daunting for a new mother. The role of ‘mom’ isn’t a light load, so splitting attention between her infant daughter and a condensed program was a big undertaking for Shadi. But she had a longer term goal in mind. “I wanted a job that’s flexible enough to be able to leave whenever my daughter needed me,” she says. A travel agency that frowned upon anything less than regular overtime certainly didn’t fit the bill. So Shadi braced for an intense 12 weeks.
It takes a village
As expected, the grind was tough as a mom and student, but Shadi started to fall into a groove. That is, until Shadi’s mother—her daughter’s caregiver—was in a car accident.
Although her mother was going to be ok, the recovery process meant she couldn’t take care of a baby. It was halfway through the Digital Marketing Professional program at RED Academy and Shadi didn’t have a babysitter. “I was freaking out,” Shadi says. “My husband had to work, and I really wanted to finish school.”
Shadi was in a tough spot. Free childcare isn’t easy to find, and paying for daycare just wasn’t possible with their one-income situation. Taking her predicament to her instructors, Shadi thought she would have one option: pulling out of the program. But she was amazed at their response. “Instead of not caring, they went out of their way to help me finish,” she says. Together they found ways to make it work. “I would Skype in for lessons and bring my daughter in when I had to do in-class group work.” Her classmates were equally supportive. During group projects, they would come in on weekends or stay late after class so Shadi could attend while her husband took over baby duty.
“If it was any other school, I would have had to drop out.”
Thanks to the supportive team effort of all her instructors and classmates, Shadi powered through and finished the Digital Marketing Professional program. “If it was any other school, I would have had to drop out,” she says.
A happy return to work
After graduating, RED helped Shadi get her first freelance client—one she still maintains nearly three years later. The search for work was stressful at first, but the guidance provided by the RED support staff alleviated her worries. “I wasn’t sure if I was doing the right thing,” she admits. “But after going to interviews and receiving coaching at RED, I realised I was in good hands.”
Shadi is now working as the Digital Content & Web Manager at Ledcor, a Vancouver-based construction company that is consistently rated as one of Canada’s top employers. And to say she loves her job may be an understatement. “I honestly didn’t think I would be so fulfilled in a career as I am now ,” she beams. “I get to work with the most amazing and talented people. We help each other, and the opportunities for growth and learning are amazing.”
“It’s amazing how 12 weeks of hard work can change your life for the better.”
And she certainly doesn’t have to think about work when she’s with her family anymore. “Now, I can relax when I’m with them and not have workmares,” Shadi says with a laugh. “It’s amazing how 12 weeks of hard work can change your life for the better.”Best of all, the work-life balance at Ledcor means that Shadi’s daughter, now three-years-old, can remain securely at the top of Shadi’s priority list. “The flexibility of my job allows me to be there for my daughter whenever she needs me,” she says. “I don’t have to worry about money or where I am going in my life anymore.”
Written by Carly Walde
Find out how RED Academy can help you make a career change like Shadi – speak to one of our career advisors today.