Arzhang, Policy and Strategy Officer, Enfield Council (3 year break)
I worked as a Education Specialist with UNESCO in Kabul, Afghanistan. Security worsened in Afghanistan and I left for the UK with my husband and three children. It took some time to settle into a new environment.
After three years of focussing on my role of both parent and refugee, I managed a very smooth and fulfilling transition to this new chapter in life. Part of this success was joining Enfield Council in May 2018, through the Returners Programme. The scheme has been an immense support, allowing me to regain my professional identity and contribute to the Strategy and Policy Hub, applying my experience from many years of work for the United Nations.
Since the start of my employment it has allowed me to advance my policy development skills. I have also been given responsibility, leading on several strategy development projects mainly looking at ways to improve health and wellbeing of all residents in Enfield and ensuring that young people are safeguarded from the harms of exploitation and abuse.
In general, it is both exhilarating and stressful to return to a corporate world after being away for a long period of time. In my case, I required a great deal of adaptability not only because I returned to work after a long break but also because there is a massive difference between the context of my work then and now. However together with my passion to promote equality of opportunities for people and the support I received through the Returners Programme the Council enabled me to have a steep learning curve and refine my expertise to improve the welfare of those in need.
My advice to those who are on a break from their work, is not to forget the time spent away from work doesn’t make you a different person. It may dent your confidence but that can be regained very quickly if you continue to believe in yourself as a professional person. My second piece of advice is to keep abreast of the developments in your field of work while you are away, as it will help you transition back to work confidently. Finally, master the art of networking, it will widen your business world and therefore your opportunities.