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Fiona’s Story: Returning to occupational psychology

Career Returners 400 x 400

I stopped working full time in 2000 at the age of 36 after the birth of my first child.  I am a qualified Occupational Psychologist (previously HRM) and previously had a demanding career, long hours travel etc.

In 2002 I started doing some freelance work with my former employer, doing between 0 and 30 days a year until 2008.  By then I had 2 children the youngest of whom was 4.  I found the idea of ‘working’ increasingly difficult to manage.

Instead, I started doing voluntary work and also became a school governor and then chair of governors for a small school. I thought a lot about my career and alternative careers and spent quite a bit of time considering retraining but couldn’t bring myself to do so.  I did short training courses in 2011, 2012 and 2013 such as Intro to CBT, NLP but didn’t really do anything with them.

In 2013, I attended the Mumsnet Workfest, having spent the 5 year period thinking about how could I return to work?.

As a result of the Mumsnet conference I created a Linkedin profile.  In early 2014 I decided I should probably stick to what I know best in terms of work, i.e. try to do the type of work I had always enjoyed most which was assessment and development. I vowed I would start looking for work and contacting companies.  I revamped my CV, sent off a few applications and found one useful contact through Linkedin.

In September 2014 my youngest child started secondary school and I had a strong feeling that ‘now is the time’ as my day at home alone had suddenly got much longer.  I actually started to say publicly for the first time ‘I am looking for work’.  As advised at the conference I contacted several people I had worked with previously basically asking for their help, in any way they could give, to talk through my aims.  I did this by email which was easier than calling!  They offered help although nothing actually came of it, at the time.  However, 3 weeks ago, I got a call  from one of the useful contacts I found via Linkedin.

The call led to an interview for a contract role running assessment centres which I was offered.  In my interview I talked a lot about my recent voluntary work and I spoke confidently about my ability to do this work as it had always been my favourite type of work.

My learnings are:

  • It is OK to take your time to think about returning to work – for most of us it does not and can not happen overnight but eventually you arrive at that place – it is a journey
  • To help you in those years, you need to do something that you can talk about with pride or confidence or conviction that reminds you of your capability, and that demonstrates you are a person who wants to contribute and do things.
  • I also always kept up with my profession in that I receive journals and took an interest in developments in my field – some courses are a good way to do this
  • It is hectic but great and I am now more confident to approach other companies
  • I must add my husband has been a great support since I actually started doing some work, doing his best to allow me to take advantage of the opportunity and encouraging me to go for it