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Helen’s Story: STEM ReCharge Programme

Helen Foreman

Helen Foreman (15+ year career break) 

After leaving university, Helen worked as a Business Analyst at a FTSE100 retail bank, where she spent 8 years working on residential mortgage projects. This provided her with invaluable exposure to large and complex IT projects, and also to collaborating with external companies.

Helen left the bank in order to relocate closer to her parents after starting a family. Although it was never her intention to take such a long career break, Helen soon discovered that her children were not suited to the long hours of wraparound childcare required to return to full-time work. Additionally, her husband’s job involved frequent international travel, leaving her as the primary caregiver.

When her child’s nursery asked for a volunteer to design and build a website for them, Helen eagerly stepped up, despite having no prior experience in web development. She found the mental challenge of learning and applying new skills highly enjoyable, while at the same time making a positive contribution to her local community.
Through word-of-mouth referrals, she acquired more clients and over time, expanded her services to include advising on search engine optimization (SEO). To enhance her knowledge in digital marketing, she obtained Google’s Digital Marketing certification and completed a couple of Coursera courses.

Helen, however realised the time was right for her to re-enter full-time work once again. She missed the energy of working as part of a large team, and started to look to return to a Business Analysis role.

Recognizing the impact the extended career break had on her confidence, Helen turned to Women Returners for support. Despite the life experiences and valuable soft skills she gained during her time away, Helen’s confidence faltered during a Business Analyst job interview.

“The Women Returners STEM ReCharge programme has been a transformative experience. The STEM ReCharge workshops and ReFresh sessions have been fantastic, allowing me to develop my return-to-work roadmap, identify my strengths, boost my self-confidence, and define my personal values and the meaning of job fulfilment to me. Our coach, delivered excellent sessions on building a CV, creating a LinkedIn profile, preparing for different types of interviews, and exploring flexible working options. Moreover, the tech ReFresh sessions, written and presented by employees of Sage and dunnhumby, have provided valuable insights into the modern tech workplace and brought me up-to-date”.

“If you are a former STEM employee on a career break, doubting whether it is realistic to return to your previous role, I emphatically say, “Absolutely!” And if you encounter recruiters or interviewers who hold a different opinion, remember that it is their subjective opinion. The plethora of success stories from other returners on this website attests to the fact that their opinion is not an absolute truth”.