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Routes back to work stories: Changing from Law to CSR

Last week we outlined some of the many routes back to work after a multi-year break. One option we encourage you to consider is creating your own ‘returnship’. Here is Stephanie’s story of how she used an internship to get back to work after 6 years and to begin a career change from her previous career as a lawyer into the area of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
This is one of the first of our return-to-work stories, which we will be featuring on
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
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

Do you know of any other inspiring return-to-work stories we can feature on our website? 
Posted by Julianne