Being a mother – whether to small kids or moody teenagers – can be a full-time job in itself. With most of your time dedicated towards your little ones, it’s easy for your professional development to fall by the wayside while you’re spinning every other plate. But motherhood and a thriving career don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
City Lit, the UK’s largest adult education college, specialises in boosting professional skills and supporting lifelong learning. Here, Voula Papadopoulou, Head of programme for Business & Technology at City Lit, shares seven career development tips for working mums:
If you don’t have clear goals in place, it’s easy to lose sight of your aspirations. By making a firm plan, you can find ways to work around your family’s needs.
It’s easy to think big and set yourself massive career targets, only to feel daunted at the idea of them. But it’s much easier to break those down goals into smaller, more manageable chunks. Short-term goals empower you to track your progress and can be a lot easier to manage around life commitments.
Continuous learning is vitally important for ensuring your career progression. It helps you to stay ahead at work, transition into a new area or bring you up to speed on different facets of your industry.
Online courses, workshops and certifications can all broaden your skill set, strengthen your CV and make you a valuable asset in an evolving job market. Learning hubs like adult education colleges such as City Lit can help you brush up on your knowledge by offering courses at various times of day, either in-person or online. This way, you can balance your studies with the rest of your busy life.
Say you’ve got your eyes on a new job in marketing, but the company requires you to know Adobe Creative Cloud. Don’t let that be a barrier to your dreams. Instead, find out about vocational courses online or near you and turn yourself into a competitive job candidate.
Networking is a vital part of professional development as authentic relationships go a lot further than simply connecting on LinkedIn. Yet how do you balance networking with the demands of being a mum?
The two aren’t mutually exclusive, as you can make use of the networks of parents in your area and beyond. Many of them will be industry professionals like you who are looking to continue their career progression while parenting. Make sure to stay connected and interact with them regularly – you never know when you might be able to help each other out.
City Lit also offers plenty of networking opportunities. By signing up for a career development course, you will meet a wider range of people — and some could end up being crucial professional contacts.
There is no age limit on finding a mentor. Whether you are looking to enter into a whole new industry or progress to a leadership role, there is always someone you can learn more from. If you have met a potential mentor then don’t be afraid to invite them for a coffee. The worst thing they can say is “no”!
A mentor can offer invaluable advice and help you to stay focused on your career. As a working mum, you might want to seek mentorship from someone who understands the challenges of balancing a career and motherhood.
Confidence is the cornerstone of a successful career — yet believing in yourself can sometimes be tough. For mums, it’s common to find yourself with gaps in your employment history as a result of raising children. It’s easy to lose confidence in your professional abilities when you feel out of the loop and are dedicating your days to your family.
That is why it’s important to keep developing confidence in your skills and talents. You can do this in many ways, including trying new things that force you out of your comfort zone, learning new professional skills or honing existing ones. It’s worth remembering that motherhood requires a wealth of abilities that you can draw confidence from, such as problem-solving, adaptability and resilience.
One way to boost your career is by following your passions. Working in jobs that you genuinely enjoy, even on a part-time or freelance basis, can lead to more professional fulfilment.
Whether it’s diving deeper into a field you love or venturing into uncharted territories, aligning your career with your interests can boost your enthusiasm and dedication. This will give you the momentum you need to keep working towards your goals.
Victoria Selman always wanted to be a writer, but it was only in her thirties with two pre-school age children that she decided to take it more seriously and took some writing courses at City Lit.
Fast-forward to 2017, her first novel Blood for Blood was shortlisted for a Debut Dagger Award and to date has sold over half a million copies worldwide. Her novel Truly, Darkly, Deeply was an Instant Sunday Times Bestseller and her latest novel All The Little Liars was published to critical acclaim in 2023. Since then, she has been nominated for the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year Award and Fingerprint Thriller of the Year Award with film rights sold to See Saw Films.
She is a fantastic example of how following your passions via learning can help you transition into a new career. Sometimes, small beginnings can lead to big things — it’s all about taking that first step.
Based in central London, City Lit offers career-boosting courses, online and classroom based, on a wide range of topics, including writing, business, technology, and marketing.
Many of our courses take place in the evenings and online, making it easier for mums to develop their skills. Ofsted inspectors rated City Lit as Outstanding in 2023.
Ready to take your next step? Browse our wide variety of career development courses