Stephanie: En route to a new career
Prior to taking a 6 year family break I had worked as a City lawyer with a linear career path and clear promotion journey. During my 6 years out of paid employment I realised that working was part of me. I had never imagined not working before I had children and now was the time to return. Both my children were at school and I had time to think about what I wanted to do. Working that out was harder than I thought and it is still “work in progress”. I had a clear picture of what I didn’t want to do and, with the help of Julianne Miles and the iRelaunch conference, understood my skillset and what I had enjoyed in my previous career. This reflection time also brought out my strong interest in the links between the corporate and the not-for-profit sector.
An opportunity presented itself, thanks to a good friend, to undertake a 3 month internship with a global organisation whose head office was in London. My self-confidence and self-belief were both low and just getting back to work and putting on work clothes again felt alien but exciting. I knew this was what I wanted – to be working in a role that could accommodate me as the main carer of our children. The internship led to 2 short-term contracts within the HR department. My role was project based and internal facing so accommodating a flexible working pattern was a little easier. Successfully completing the projects I was given, led to a permanent position, again within HR. Due to the nature of the organisation I have been given the chance to work on a wide variety of projects and can now see a long term direction. Part of my role is to manage the company’s corporate and social responsibility agenda. I love it. It gives me the chance to work with colleagues around the world and shape how the company interacts with its stakeholders. Whilst I am not challenged academically, for now, this role is perfect.
While I have a long-term dream to become a CSR consultant for small to medium sized businesses looking to establish a CSR programme for the first time, I have a lot to learn. The company I work for at the moment is expanding rapidly and this gives me the chance to get involved in many new projects touching different parts of the business. I am not discounting that I might experience another area of HR which I enjoy just as much as CSR. I am keeping an open mind.
It’s easy to forget how many working years you have left, even after a first career and then a family break, but not being part of the pack forging their careers in their 30s means you have the luxury of being able to take the meandering path to your long-term goal. This means you are able to accept opportunities even if they don’t appear to take you straight to the next step on the career ladder. This in itself can be empowering.
I am excited about where my journey will end and whether it will be as an employee or a consultant. Watch this space – it is all work in progress.