After two years away from the workplace I decided that it was time to go back to work. My time away and the birth of our daughter had given me a different perspective on life and some space to think about what I wanted from career…from family…and from life in general. Having spent the majority of my working days in the creative industries in roles across marketing, innovation, technology and strategy consultancies, I had a strong sense that I wanted a change. But it seemed that every role I looked at required direct experience, that I simply didn’t have. Now, having had two years out, I also had a dreaded “gap” in my CV. When out walking with my little one in her pram one day, I stopped to chat to a neighbour…who gave me an idea. “Have you thought about a returnship?”
I hadn’t thought about a returnship. I had never even heard of one. I started some internet research immediately and the Mastercard programme popped up on the Women Returners website. In exchange for experience in professional services across any sector, they offered people with a “gap” a three month project, a manager, a team, a buddy, coaching, group work with the others on the returnship and the opportunity at the end of the programme to apply for live job roles. Plus a salary. I applied and was shortlisted for interview, for which I had to prepare a presentation about the payments industry. It was an industry I had no experience in, having worked mainly in consumer goods and retail. The preparation itself helped me to know that I was heading in the right direction, immersing myself in something new and learning again. I felt like myself once again and somehow managed to juggle the research with nap times, cooking and laundry and all the jobs that my “other” full time job entailed.
Fast forward to today. I won a place on the programme, had a fantastic experience with people here who generously gave me their time and knowledge and was able to add value by seeing this industry through an external lens. I also found a company with a culture and attitude that I love. The perfect permanent role within the marketing organisation came up and at the end of the programme I was asked to join that team. Most recently I have moved into our Product team – which is yet another opportunity to stretch and grow and bring my outside experience into the organisation. Of course, there have been bumps along the road, wobbles and set backs. But you can get over anything if you just remember that your career “break” was actually a growth experience of its own. Whatever you have been doing, you’ve grown, you’ve learned new things about yourself and about the world and if you just apply that to an organisation that values that fact, who knows what you can achieve? You might find out that nothing was “broken” after all and the “gap” in your CV was in fact a career development opportunity in itself.