Following the birth of twins, I took a career break for 8 years. Prior to this, I had spent 10 years working as a Chartered Landscape Architect in consultancy. After having twins, I felt that I did not have time to contemplate returning to work until my children were settled into school full time.
During my career break I initially spent my time caring for two small children, which was a full time job in itself. Once the children had started school I found admin work locally for a couple of days a week whilst my children were in school. This led on to me increasing my hours and finding work as a garden designer which utilised some of the skills I had developed working as a Landscape Architect. I soon started to think about how I could get back into my career but envisaged it would take me a long time to find a job as I had been out of the profession for so long. I stumbled upon the AECOM Returners Programme when internet searching jobs in Environmental Impact Assessment, which was an area of work I had lots of experience in. When I found details of the 6 month Programme I thought my experience would be applicable and was delighted to get a place.
I found AECOM to be accommodating with my working hours and AECOM’s Freedom to Grow initiative allows me the flexibility of working from home as and when I want to. The coaching support and advice that Women Returners provided on the Returners Programme was really invaluable and helped me think about my strengths and achieving a work life balance. My colleagues and line manager were really supportive and approachable which helped me quickly come up to speed in the office environment as there have obviously been quite a few changes since my time out.
I now have a permanent role at AECOM and, despite my 8 year career break, I feel as though I have not been away from work. During my time at AECOM I have learnt a lot in terms of getting up to speed with current legislation, planning changes and obviously advances in IT.
For women trying to get back into the workplace, I would advise them to be positive and to give it a go! Employers are much more flexible than they used to be.