Julia: Return to Work Programme at Morgan Stanley

When I read about the concept of returnships in the press, I immediately felt this would be a good way for me to restart my professional career. I had been on a career break to raise my family for over eight years and the time was right for me to return to work. I had spent time working in the voluntary sector, which increased my confidence, but I soon became convinced that what I really wanted to do was to use my skills and experience in the commercial business environment again. Rather than returning to my previous career as a management consultant, I was attracted by the idea of taking on a new challenge. The Morgan Stanley Return to Work programme was advertised at just the right time. I could see that it offered an opportunity to return within a supportive framework where I could refocus my strengths and sharpen up my skills over a 12 week period, without an immediate long-term commitment. My family actively encouraged me to go for the opportunity when I was offered a place on the programme.

In many respects, I found returning to work surprisingly easy. I slipped back into the routines of commuting and office life without much trouble. This was probably made easier by the fact that my children were teenagers and able to help with housework and cooking – the time I’d spent ensuring that they learned these skills had finally paid off in my favour!  I feel that I have more energy and drive for work now compared to when my children were younger. My family’s support and relative independence has freed me to re-focus on work.

Being part of the Return to Work programme was an overwhelmingly positive experience. As a group of returners, we had the opportunity to meet with senior leaders across the firm on a weekly basis, as well as having the chance to build up our own network. I joined the Operations division and was immediately asked to contribute to projects that directly impacted the business. The support of business colleagues, fellow interns and HR was tremendous and the division’s senior management were also generous in sharing their knowledge and experience. My biggest issue was being too impatient with myself – I expected to be able to do everything straight away whereas in reality there was a learning process to go through! I also had to learn to manage my spare time better. Initially I packed my diary with commitments at the weekend and in the evenings. I soon found that I needed to pace myself better and ensure that I had enough down time.

I am now in a permanent position in the division and am still finding being back at work enjoyable and stimulating. I work full-time, with one day a week working from home, which allows me a good balance. My advice to anyone else thinking of joining a similar programme would be to make the very best of the opportunities on offer, relax  and feel confident about yourself and your capabilities. Focus on delivering quality work but also make time to learn from others wherever you can and develop your network. Enjoy the experience and go for it!