Would you like to support a Career Returner to Tech to get back to a fulfilling role after a career break?

By signing up as a volunteer Return to Work Mentor, you could make a big difference to a returner’s life. As part of our STEM ReCharge project, in partnership with STEM Returners, we’re looking for experienced UK tech professionals willing to give a few hours of their time to provide support and advice to professionals who want to relaunch their careers.

The STEM ReCharge Mentoring Programme is part of a wider UK Government-funded project, targeted at returners and employers. For returners, STEM ReCharge offers free-of-charge return to work support for tech and engineering professionals based in the North of England and the Midlands, and who are currently on career breaks of 12 months or more for caring reasons. Mentees will also receive a programme of free return to work coaching and job skills training workshops and a technical knowledge ReFresh Week.

The second cohort for the STEM ReCharge Mentoring Programme will start in October 2023, with mentoring starting from December.

Note: Our partners, STEM Returners are organising Engineering Mentors and we are organising Tech Mentors.

Am I a suitable mentor?

We’re looking for supportive and encouraging individuals of any gender who meet the following criteria:

  • At least 10 years of professional experience in a technology role and/or sector
  • Have tech expertise (currently employed in a professional tech role or recently retired from a tech role)
  • UK-based
  • Willing to share your own experiences

You don’t need to have prior mentoring experience or qualifications as we’ll provide you with training and support to ensure a mutually beneficial relationship. It’s great if you have had your own experience of time out of the workforce, but this is not necessary.

What is the commitment?

We aim to make the process as simple and time-effective as possible. As a Mentor you will commit to:

  • Participate in a one-hour online group Mentor Training Session
  • Organise 3 one-hour virtual 1-2-1 Mentoring Meetings by Zoom, other video platform or phone with your mentee (you can offer more, that’s up to you). One of the meetings to be an interview practice session
  • [Optional] Participate in monthly Mentor Check-in Sessions to share learnings and get support from Women Returners and fellow mentors
  • Provide feedback on the mentoring process via an online survey

What is return to work mentoring?

Mentoring is a professional partnership. Return to work mentoring involves providing one-to-one advice and support to an individual wanting to return to work after a career break for caring reasons (childcare or eldercare). Mentoring is a powerful way to inspire, inform and empower a returner to achieve their career objectives.

You will help your mentee to build their skills and confidence to identify and secure a rewarding role. You will share your own experience, knowledge and insights (including sector knowledge), facilitating decision-making and acting as a source of encouragement as well as a confidential sounding-board. You will provide interview practice with feedback to build skills and confidence prior to interview.

You will agree objectives with your mentee at the outset. These could include:

  • How to be focused in a job search, clarifying goals and actions
  • How to build professional networks virtually and in person
  • How to achieve a satisfactory work-life balance
  • How to understand flexible working options, including new hybrid working models
  • How to update tech skills and knowledge
  • How to rebuild professional confidence

What will you gain as a mentor?

Mentoring focuses on the goals of the mentee, but there are also benefits for mentors:

  • The satisfaction of helping a talented individual to achieve their objectives and rebuild their confidence
  • Development of your mentoring, leadership and communication skills
  • New perspectives to benefit your organisational role, including an awareness of return to work challenges
  • A feeling of making a difference and ‘giving back’

How can I sign up as a mentor?

  • Complete the short registration form here
  • Once we have confirmed that you meet the criteria above, we will contact you with further details on the mentor training and process
  • With any questions, email STEMReCharge@womenreturners.com

If you are an employer who offers employer-supported volunteering, and who would like to explore including return to work mentoring as an option for your employees, please contact us on STEMReCharge@womenreturners.com