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Carolien’s Story: Returning to engineering at Tideway

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Carolien: Tideway Returner Programme

After training as a civil engineer, I worked for 10 years as a management consultant on engineering projects in my home country, the Netherlands.

When I relocated to the UK with my husband and four children under the age of four, I chose to stay at home until everyone was settled. I enjoyed being at home but after two years I was ready to get back to work.

Around a year ago, I started to rebuild my network, getting in touch with former university classmates and using LinkedIn to connect with people I used to work with. I met up for informal chats to gain ideas on possible roles I could target and more people to talk to.

I was looking for a part-time role as my husband travels a lot with his job and with four children to care for, I thought a full-time job could quickly lead to burnout. Working part-time is very common in the Netherlands and I was expecting this to be the same in the UK. However, it was much harder than I expected it to be to find suitable work.  I was beginning to think I would never find a way back to my career when I read about the Women Returners programme with Tideway.  It looked perfect for me as I have a Masters in tunnel safety and worked on many tunnel projects in the Netherlands.

Thanks to a very speedy recruitment process with Tideway, I was back at work again in 3 -4 weeks! The role was initially full-time, during the returnship itself, which made me a little hesitant, but I made it clear from my interviews that while I was able to work full-time for the 12-week returnship, I would be looking for more flexibility after this.  I was assured that this would be possible and this is how it has turned out.

I applied for two internal roles during the programme and am now working as an assistant integration manager on the construction integration team.  I negotiated a part-time schedule with my line manager after asking what working arrangement would suit the team best.  I work 3 full days a week in the London office and school hours from home every Monday.  For me this is the perfect balance: I can spend some time with my kids in their schools two days out of five and I like going into the London office where I’m able fully to focus on my work.  Finding great childcare has been key to making this all work.

The Tideway Returners programme was the best opportunity for me to start working again.  It prepared me for getting back to work, gave me the opportunity to show what I could do and it showed the company what was needed to successfully integrate workers who had taken a break. The coaching workshops were particularly useful in helping me to understand the company perspective and to develop professionally.