Inspiring Individuals - from Lawyer to Teacher

How Natasha Baker swapped the boardroom for the classroom

Natasha (3).jpgNatasha Baker began her career as a corporate lawyer working in mergers and acquisitions in the City. After the birth of her daughter followed two years later by the arrival of twins, Natasha re-evaluated her life and embarked on a journey to change her career, transitioning from lawyer to full-time mum to teacher. She is currently completing her Graduate Teacher Training, a programme aimed at experienced graduates who want to change careers. This scheme allows trainee teachers to learn in a school on a salary rather that through the more traditional college based route. Natasha talks to inspired Mums about what motivated her to change career and how she went about achieving it:

Tell me more about how you started your career?

I was a commercial solicitor working in the City in a Corporate Finance department doing mergers and acquisitions and takeovers. It was very fast moving, working with lots of different businesses and colourful clients. You’d work on one big deal and then move onto the next - I enjoyed the excitement of it all.

How did you find your work life balance once you had your first child?

My work was market driven and I don’t think you can do that job and say that you want to knock off at 4pm. So when I returned to work I had to plunge back into the same long-hours culture that I’d previously inhabited. I didn’t feel angry about it- those hours are just part of the job. But once I had my children, like a lot of other mothers, I didn’t want to work until 9pm – it’s very difficult when you are not in control of the length of your day. I also felt very stuck in a rut as it seemed to be the same legal arguments all the time.

When did you decide to change career and look for something different?

I went back for a year after I had my first daughter Maya and then when I found out I was pregnant with twins I took a job as a legal researcher for Euromoney magazine. It wasn’t client facing and was less driven. I moved onto doing that on a freelance basis by the time I had the twins and did it for a couple of years. But giving twins the care and attention they both need is extremely draining, so I decided to focus on my children and be a full time mum.

How did you decide that teaching was the job for you

I had thought about teaching at university but wasn’t absolutely convinced. Both my parents were teachers so it was in the back of my mind to follow the family line. 

When I was living in London I used to work at a centre for asylum seekers and got involved with the adult education programme there. But it was probably having my children that really helped me to decide. I hadn’t spent any time with children before I had my own and it made me realise I actually really enjoy their company.  I volunteered at my children’s local school, then took a paid part- time teaching assistant role at a nearby school for a year before starting my teacher training.

What did you learn from volunteering?

I think volunteering is crucial in teaching as it’s very difficult to understand the stresses of actually doing it as opposed to watching it, before you try it yourself . It’s a bit like mothering; from the outside it looks effortless but actually a lot of things are involved. Do you like to spend all day with everyone tugging on your shirt tails or does it drive you mad? It also tells you about your own skills - can you manage behavior in the classroom. It’s tough, very tiring– is it you or not?

Many of our clients struggle with the pay cut that moving to another career can entail. How did you cope with the difference in earning potential from law to teaching?

The pay’s peanuts compared to law but you have to swallow your pride when you change career – it’s a huge jump in every way but if you’ve found something you want to do, try to put your pride and financial stresses to one side for a year and try and get the most out of it you can. Easier said than done I know!

What is the most rewarding aspect of teaching?

The children’s natural curiosity – when they get the bit between the teeth – I find that a real joy as you can follow where they lead. That’s the best bit  - when we are all on a roll.

How do you manage to juggle the different commitments of being a mum of three and work?

I have had really good help – I couldn’t have done it without an au pair this year because I have been teaching in the day and studying in the evening.

For other mums thinking about changing direction, what advice would you give them?

Don’t wish away that time you’ve spent with your children. You have got a lot of working years ahead and time to decide. Don’t worry that life is passing you by – it won’t! Enjoy the moment, nothing stays the same forever. Try a bit of this and that and see what works!

For more information about changing careers and moving into teaching visit

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