At AAI, we recently reached out to our intern alumni to find anyone who had used one of our placements to get back to work or start a new professional journey, after a career break, and who could be considered a ‘Returner’.
Here’s Sarah’s story.
Background – I Studied at Edinburgh Napier University and achieved a first class honours degree in journalism (2005- 2009).
In 2005 I was a single mother with a young daughter (born April 2004), I was keen to return to higher education to ensure that I could take care of us both through a fulfilling and successful career.
I was lucky to attend a university that offered both a hardship fund and a childcare fund which enabled me to place my daughter in nursery part-time while I studied.
During my studies, I met and married my husband, and shortly before I graduated I had a second child, Alexander.
Job Hunting Experience – After taking some time out to raise my children I began to look for a job. I focused my search on communications, partly because I had some experience in this area having been hired as a part-time internal communications officer for Syngenta in my final year of university, and partly as it seemed there were more opportunities in this field, and it offered a more stable career.
However, the market was incredibly tough and while I succeeded in getting a number of interviews I didn’t succeed in getting hired. Most of the jobs I went for were not designated ‘graduate jobs’, in fact very few of those seemed to exist (at least in my specialism and location), and so it’s likely that many of my competitors had more career experience. I was often praised by potential employers merely for getting an interview (when they had had a plethora of applications), but that’s cold comfort when you end the interview as you began; jobless.
Still, I ploughed on, and eventually, I was rewarded when I was taken on as a communications executive by the Society for Acute Medicine (SAM), an internship advertised by Adopt an Intern.
Your Returnship – Communications Executive with the Society for Acute Medicine (SAM) – This role was ideal for me, it was part-time and home-based and gave me the opportunity to build my communications experience with supportive colleagues.
I stayed with SAM for 18 months, when I was then able to move onwards (and upwards) to a full-time job as a communications and engagement officer with Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC). After three years in this role, I was given the opportunity to cover my manager’s maternity leave and so was temporarily promoted to Acting Head of Communications.
While not without its challenges, taking on this role demonstrated that I was capable of managing more responsibility; therefore when I heard about a more senior role with a similar organisation I readily applied.
I am now Senior Marcomms Manager (Scotland) for the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB). My role involves the management of all communications activity pertaining to Scotland for this UK-wide organisation including communications strategy and planning, political and stakeholder management, media relations, internal communications and social media activity.
How did Adopt an Intern help me? – Tremendously. As I wrote earlier graduate jobs were few and far between when I was job hunting, and it seems that many graduates struggle due to a lack of experience, but of course, without being offered a job they cannot improve what may be a fairly sparce CV.
Individuals who have taken a break from a fairly illustrious career no doubt end up in a similar situation, but are penalised because their more comprehensive experience is not current enough for some employers.
Adopt an Intern recognises that there are people out there who have the skills and commitment to succeed, but require a hand to boost them back onto the career ladder.
Before I got my internship I was starting to worry I had picked the wrong track, and I would need to find the funds and time to retrain to be able to secure a good living. But thanks to the scheme, I have found my career path, and have never looked back.
The term ‘Returnship’ is trademarked by Goldman Sachs