Melissa McKibbins

Melissa McKibbins

Who do you care for and what do you find most rewarding about it?

I am a first time mum to our daughter Emilia, who is a year and a half. I love just hanging out with her - she is so much fun! I love watching her grow and develop new skills - it is actually quite amazing to see your own child learn a new skill.

What does your role involve?

I work in Future Students and I look after student experiential events - so events that involve students coming on to campus to get a taste of University life. My biggest project last year was project managing Open Day (followed by Info Day!), from concept to execution.  Each day varies and that's what I love about my job - from designing and structuring an event, developing marketing tactical plans and event briefs, reviewing artwork and communications, and meeting with various stakeholders across campus. My focus is always the student experience and how I can make it exceptional.

What is the most challenging aspect of being a carer and also having a career?

Juggling the time hasn't been a problem so far - I think I have been able to use the skills I have developed over the years working in events to manage my time effectively. The struggle I find can be the broken sleeps and then getting up and driving to work - those days can feel pretty long. At times, it can feel a little overwhelming.

What are some of the strategies that you’ve used to overcome these challenges and what have the impacts for you been both personally and professionally?

When the broken sleeps got really bad, I had to take a sick day - I was so physically exhausted, I felt sick. Even though my husband and I try to share the monitor at night, a crying baby usually wakes up the entire household anyway. I have learnt that your own health is extremely important. The day off allowed me to recharge my batteries. I also told my husband how I was feeling, so for the next few evenings after work I literally put my feet up- no housework or cooking. I was able to relax. It was amazing! I like to be organised and I find this makes the best use of my time. I usually pack and prepare what we need for the day the night before. Our mornings are like clock-work - my husband feeds the dogs and cleans the backyard while I get ready. I do a quick clean of the house (our dogs sleep inside so we usually vacuum before we leave) then I get Emilia up for breakfast, I make our coffees and we are out the door for day-care drop off. My husband works at Macquarie University Sport and Recreation, so most mornings we drive in together. If we are working different hours, I wake up 20 minutes earlier to manage the mornings on my own.

How has Macquarie University supported you?

The managers in the Future Students team are amazing, I am very lucky to be part of a team that is so supportive of my commitments as a carer. I have been working from home one day a week since I came back from maternity leave in April. My managers are approachable which is so important - when Emilia was sick with the flu, they made me feel it was OK to take carers leave - I know this might sound silly, but as a first-time mum, I was so worried about what people would think. It feels so reassuring to be in an environment that is supportive and understanding.

What are your top tips for other employees who have caring responsibilities and also want to have fulfilling and rewarding careers?

Read up on your entitlements as a carer and speak with HR if you have questions. Make sure to chat to your manager and explain your situation and what flexible work arrangement would work for you both. Plan your workload for your work from home days. I always plan out my tasks for my work from home day in advance so I am making the most out of my time. My outlook calendar is my go-to task list and deadline reminder. Be organised. Having a prepared morning means you are less likely to be flustered and stressed when you walk into the office. Take your lunch break. You need it. I never use to take a lunch break, now I go to the gym and my energy levels have improved so much.

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