STEM Returners partnered with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), creating brand new opportunities in Newport and London for returners to re-join an inclusive and diverse workplace. The scheme provided a 12-week placement opportunity with the IPO, following the potential to gain a permanent position with the organisation.
Sarah found a place on the STEM Returners programme with the IPO after a 5-year career break to care for her 2 children and returning to the UK. Sarah’s youngest child was 3 years old and starting nursery and it was time for her to start looking to return to work. After a 10–15-year career in Australia, Sarah felt a little apprehensive about applying for roles in the UK as all her experience was from Australia, where she had moved a couple of years after graduating.
Sarah explained: “Speaking to STEM Returners it was reassuring to know I was not alone, and others had returned to work with the programme after a career break.”
After successfully completing the STEM Returners Programme with IPO, Sarah became a Patent Examiner and later an Associate Patent examiner, now 2 years back into her career, with the possibility of a promotion next year.
Sarah said: “The IPO are so flexible, it is amazing. I can work part time around the family, I have targets, but they are achievable, and I go into the office once a month as I live quite far away and started during covid. Other staff members go in about once a week.”
Sarah confirmed there is an inclusive culture at IPO and she is part of the Women’s Network. There are menopause chat groups and Sarah has recently been given a headspace license as part of her work benefits. There is also access to counsellors for those that need more support.
Overall Sarah reflected that the experience with STEM Returners and the IPO has been very supportive.