By Jenna Doran
On the 22nd January I took my first step back into the networking circle and attended an event at the stunning Denman College, hosted by 9-2-3 Jobs.
I'm lucky enough to be working with Helen and Lucy at 9-2-3 Jobs having started a social media management training course with Digital Mums and as soon as Helen mentioned the event to me, I immediately knew that I wanted to attend.
This was a great opportunity for a mum like me after being out of work for five years, to get back into the swing of things (not just me but my brain too) and use my voice to have an impact on a fab fundraising campaign, instead of disarming my toddler from her usual tantrum!
The nerves had started the night before, would I embarrass myself? Say the wrong thing? Was I ready? What do I wear? However, upon arriving, all of these questions were brushed aside. Helen was the first lady I met that day and work aside, I quickly realised that Helen was a mum too and since setting up in 2015 has realised a wonderful initiative through her job agency, helping parents back into the workplace with flexible working arrangements putting their skills to work for the benefit of businesses and themselves, whilst still being able to do the school run.
Why is it taking businesses so long to catch on to this? I'll never know... but I hope that there is enough momentum this year (and I do believe there is), for them to sit up and take note.
Denman College is a truly amazing hub of creativity, offering members and non-members of the Women's Institute a haven of activity to explore their own talents and socialise with friends. It just has to be the next venue for GBBO with its stunning grounds and cookery school which we were lucky enough to be given a tour of by Ruba and her team.
It's reassuring, once armed with a (child-free) cup of tea and a room full of other like-minded mums, that you really do have so much in common. All have had some kind of career break for one reason or another and are looking to be creative again with their talents. Most mums were feeling exactly like me on the morning leading up to the event but all now felt relaxed and comfortable as the event unfolded.
Having sampled some delicious homemade WI shortbread, we sat down to an introduction from Helen, who reinforced the value of attending events such as these. I wholeheartedly agreed - looking around and talking to the women there, it was obvious we had a wonderful room full of talented individuals and not all of it was being put to its best use in the workplace. Having said that, there were women there who ran their own businesses and it was great to hear their stories, their ideas and their passion to help mothers back into the world of work.
After a short presentation from Ruba about the fundraising campaign for Denman College, we quickly got into some work sharing ideas and working together as a team to present back to the room. Yes, the nerves suddenly shot back into my stomach when having to do this, but the realisation that we were all pretty much in the same boat reassured me.
After leaving Denman, with some great contacts I may add, it became abundantly clear that the day wasn't just about solving some problems and suggesting ideas for a campaign, it was about bringing women together, unleashing that voice and talent that may have been under-used for some time and giving attendees hope for their potential (and flexible) career in the near future.
Helen and Lucy at 9-2-3 Jobs do a marvellous job and should be applauded for thinking outside the box on this and enabling events such as this to happen.
I can't wait for the next one!