Meet Tamsin Dobson, our most recent STEM Returner. Following a successful 13 week engineering placement, Tamsin has now just accepted a permanent role as a Senior Engineer with her host company. Here, she talks about her experience.
Why did you join the programme?
When I saw the STEM Returners programme advertised in the WES newsletter, I saw it as a perfect fit for my situation, and I hoped that it would enable me to transition back into an engineering career. I was really excited about the opportunity to work for Babcock as this was a company that I had been keen to work with for a number of years. So, it was not only an opportunity for me to prove what I’m capable of, but also a chance for me to “try out” a company that I really wanted to work for.
My background is slightly unusual as, after a successful career working at sea as a marine engineer, I had worked as an engineering lecturer and teacher since I became pregnant with my son. Whilst I enjoyed working in academia, I really missed engineering and was always looking for an opportunity to get back into industry. I was struggling to find job adverts that fit my background, and found that many recruiters looked unfavourably at my unusual career path and “experience gap”.
As a single mum, I always prioritise my son’s needs when looking at job opportunities. This meant that I had to ask questions like; do they offer flexi time? can I work part time? where is the nearest nursery (and is it affordable/do I like it)? Once I had sifted through roles that were unsuitable, I then had to overcome the logistical challenge of arranging childcare for interviews. I saw that STEM Returners was set up for people just like me, and it was great to finally see a scheme that recognised that not everyone follows the same career route.
How was the programme structured?
I started the programme in week 3 (of 13) and thus missed a few of the early training sessions. However, I was provided with great support to catch up with the other participants. The first couple of weeks were about getting my feet under the table; getting to know my new team, ensuring I had all the computer systems that I needed and slowly being given tasks to work on. Whilst this “on the job” training was happening, Babcock provided a structured training programme that included subjects such as materials, hand calculations and problem-solving methods, alongside soft skills training such as Myers Briggs analysis.
As the weeks went by I started to take on more complex tasks and co-ordinate a larger project. This gave me the opportunity to prove what I could do technically, and how I could contribute as part of the team.
What was the end result?
Babcock offered me a permanent position as a Senior Engineer working within the team that I had been working with as part of the STEM Returner programme.
How has this changed your career?
I am now back on track to continue my career as a Marine Engineer working within the defence industry. It is an ideal result and I’m really excited to be working at Babcock.
Would you recommend the programme?
Absolutely! If you have had a break from STEM (for whatever reason) and still have that nagging feeling that you should be doing something more, then do it! Otherwise you will always wonder “what if?”
Take the risk, put yourself out there and give it all you’ve got. This programme could be your ticket to getting back to a career path that you wish you hadn’t left.