I’m excited to share Katie’s story with you today in the How She Does It series, because her story mirrors the story of so many of my personal friends. Usually these conversations take place over coffee, not on the internet. Not today.
A year after graduating college, I was hired by my alma mater as an admission counselor. I was excited because it took me back to a place I loved and allowed me to work with an incredible group of people.
During my time as an admission counselor, I founded a student blog, aimed at prospective students and their families. I also helped run our office’s Facebook page. Those things coincided with my interests and abilities so it was natural for me to take initiative in those areas.
I loved my work as an admission counselor but when I became pregnant with my first daughter, I knew I wanted to stay home with her. I also knew the life of an admission counselor – traveling and working late evenings and some Saturdays – was not conducive to the kind of family life I hoped to cultivate. My husband and I discussed our options and reviewed our finances, then made the decision. Things would be tight, but I would stay home.
Shortly before my daughter was born, my boss asked me if I would be interested in working part-time from home running the office’s social media pages, working on special projects, and doing some writing. I was thrilled with the idea of keeping my foot in the door and expressed my enthusiasm.
After my daughter was born, I realized that being a stay-at-home mom was not all I had pictured. We were still several years away from the play dates, library story hours and zoo visits of my imagination. Additionally, my husband traveled for work and, even with a strong support network, I often found myself lonely and bored. New motherhood felt isolating. I struggled with the fact that being a stay-at-home mom was not what I’d pictured and I often didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t want to return to my pre-baby job exactly but I missed my co-workers, the office atmosphere and the sense of purpose my job had provided.
It took an entire year after my daughter’s birth for the position my boss and I had discussed to begin (proposals had to be written, money had to be found in the budget, and upper-level administration had to approve) but I finally began working part-time from home in September 2012.
I work approximately twelve hours per week. Although I used to work primarily from home, in January of this year I started working one day a week on campus, in addition to a few additional hours from home. Returning to the office, even for just one day a week, has been a huge boost for me, both mentally and emotionally. A friend watches my girls, just minutes from the university, and I’m able to devote an entire day to my professional life. It is a long, hectic day that requires advance planning on my part but it has been entirely worth it.
I am beginning to think of myself as a professional. I’m imagining what it would look like for me to turn my part-time gig into a long-term career that I love. I have become a self-feeder when it comes to continuing education, learning all I can about social media marketing from articles and webinars. I have taught myself new skills, like video editing. Recently I presented a seminar in the Career Services office at my institution about leveraging social media for career advancement. These activities have developed me as a professional and grown my confidence.
Working gives me a much-needed mental outlet. It gives me a sense of purpose that is different from that of being a mother, but so very valuable. Being able to contribute, even in a small way, to our family finances has lifted a burden and allowed us to take on projects that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do. It’s also important to me that my daughters understand that, while they are so important to me, my life doesn’t revolve around them. I love that I can cultivate a professional life and give them one perspective of how motherhood and a career can take shape.
Katie owns her own social media consulting business, On Target Media & Communications, where she specializes in higher education. When she’s not crafting the perfect tweet, she’s might be sautéing something in the kitchen, jogging around her neighborhood, or – most likely – chasing a toddler. Katie lives with her husband and two daughters in Ohio.