Jessica joined GRoW in January 2023 after leaving her retail job when she had her first child. Jessica has now returned to work as a Wholesale Coordinator for a fashion brand in a more flexible position that fits in with her family.
Jessica said; “I had been working in retail on the shop floor for 7 years but when I had my baby it was difficult to find suitable childcare and retail hours are really tough and it didn’t seem possible to be able to do that type of work anymore. It was a bit of a shock to realise I might have to completely change career but I felt I had no choice but to leave my job to look after my daughter and try to find a more flexible job.
My confidence took a bit of a hit during this time and I was worried about how I might get back to work and in what sort of capacity. I had really good retail experience but I was lacking office and digital skills, I didn’t really know where to start with a computer! I applied for some jobs and even got interviews but I just wasn’t getting offered any jobs.
I found out about GRoW at my daughter’s nursery and was really interested to find out more as I have never heard of any organisation giving support to mums to help them get back to work. I was new to being a mum and I was worrying about the expense of using childcare when I went back to work and it was great to be in a space with other mums where we could talk openly about these things. I went along to see if they could help me think about a career that would work for me. GRoW’s Director Liz Sewell set me up with the GRoW app which gave me lots of links and resources to get started and before long I was learning how to use programmes like MS Excel and Word. This was a massive help to me and it was also a big confidence boost.
I went along to the in-person sessions at Sheringham Childrens Centre in Newham every Thursday and I found them really uniting and uplifting. They were a great opportunity for local mums to share their experiences and ideas and for everyone to hear about what we were all going through. We did some great work around understanding the transferrable skills we have learned through being mums, something most mums never really think about. It was really eye opening for me and gave me the hope I needed that I would be able to find the right job. Us mums tend to focus on the cooking and cleaning rather than all the other things we do like time management, communication skills and multi-tasking. These are all skills that bring something to the work environment and these are skills I am now better at than before I had my child! Putting all this information up on the board really helped us all open our mind to what we are achieving already and what we should be striving for. We shouldn’t just settle for a job that we won’t enjoy that leads to nowhere, we still have hopes and dreams and we can work towards these as future goals.
I had stayed in touch with my former manager and explained to them that I was really keen to get back to work but needed something more flexible than before. When a job came up they thought I might be interested in going for it, even though it was a very different position than I had done previously. What I liked about it was that it was more flexible, I could work from home two days with three days in the office which worked for me as my mother-in-law could look after my daughter two days and I found a childminder for the other three days. The GRoW Team gave me support with interview techniques and got me ready and when I had the interview I was really pleased to be offered the job.
I started last week and am learning the ropes at the moment. It is really interesting and varied and my new computer skills ate a huge help as the job role requires alot of it. Even though I am starting the job at entry level the flexibility is great for me at this point in my life and I am learning new skills all the time which opens up so many more opportunities for my future.