STEM Returners doesn’t only facilitate career returns for candidates following a career break but also for those who wish to transfer sectors. Read Dan’s story on his journey from Physics Teacher to Systems Engineer at Babcock International.
Why did you join the programme?
I trained to be a Teacher of Physics in the UK and after a short stint at a secondary academy, I decided to try teaching in the Middle East so relocated to Kuwait for a few years. When I decided that I wanted to relocate home I started assessing my options for a career in the UK. I didn’t really want to return to teaching for several reasons but didn’t know what my options were. I studied Mechanical Engineering at University, so when I found an advertisement for the newly-launched STEM Returners programme, I thought this might be the opportunity I had been looking for and applied.
Please give an overview of the programme
Having been accepted on to the programme as a ‘career changer’ as opposed to a ‘returner’, I received an offer through the STEM Returners programme to join Babcock in March 2018. The programme consisted of a thirteen-week introductory period at the end of which, a permanent role could be offered. I joined the Systems Team and immediately got started on systems engineering work. In addition to the invaluable work experience provided, I benefited from extensive training throughout the programme. This included training on materials, quality control, computer-aided design, manufacturing techniques, as well as project management systems. The STEM Returners also received three-days of soft-skills training spaced out over the thirteen weeks to help us learn more about our personalities and learning habits.
What was the result?
At the end of the programme, I was delighted to be offered a position within the Systems Team as an Assistant Engineer. In addition to my Systems Team role, I am looking forward to gaining a variety of experience in different areas over the next year so that I can continue to grow and develop my engineering competencies.
How has this programme changed your career?
It means that I can leave the teaching profession which I had really started to not enjoy and return to my initial passion, engineering. I enjoy learning and there is a lot to learn in my new role and I love the challenge. Without STEM Returners and with such a large period of time working outside of engineering, I would have been very unlikely to have this opportunity.
Would you recommend the programme?
Definitely! I have come from the standpoint of changing careers as opposed to returning to engineering; I don’t have a proven track-record of professional engineering experience. However, the support, encouragement and guidance I have received from Natalie at STEM Returners, my colleagues and managers at Babcock and my mentors, both within and outside of Babcock, has been outstanding. I think my journey evidences that the STEM Returners programme can work for people who want to change career as well as those that want to return to the engineering profession.
I’m looking forward to seeing where the road leads for me at Babcock. It is up to me now to put together my own professional development plan to maximise the opportunity I have been offered. I’m looking forward to continuing to learn as much as I can and make the most of all the support on offer. I think what Natalie is doing with the STEM Returners programme is ground-breaking. There are so many companies crying out for engineers but all too often, traditional recruiting methods seem to follow such a strict set of credentials, afraid to take a chance on a candidate that doesn’t perfectly fit an exact set of requirements. Most organisations are only willing to consider candidates who can hit the ground running, and to some extent, that is understandable. Having companies that are willing to invest in people and help them develop into the team-members they need them to be can be beneficial for both the recruiting company and the candidate. This STEM Returners programme gives job-seeking candidates the opportunity to demonstrate what they can bring to an organisation. It also gives the employer the opportunity to demonstrate what it can offer the candidate in return. I can imagine there are some people who might be nervous about returning to work if they have been out of the working environment for a while. The STEM Returners programme provides an excellent (re)introduction to a career in engineering. If anyone is thinking that they might want to return to engineering or enter engineering for the first time, I would highly recommend that they give the STEM Returners a go!