Returning to STEM
Returning to STEM

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Returning to STEM

Week 1: The story so far


In this course, you’ll learn about new and inspiring employment opportunities and trends in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), see how other people have navigated their careers and, most importantly, how they have made a return to STEM employment following a career break. Throughout the course, you’ll be given challenging and thought-provoking activities to help you define your next steps.

Watch the video to hear Dr Sue Black OBE introduce this badged free course and Week 1.

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Hello there. Welcome to this free course, Returning to STEM. I'm Sue Black. And I'm going to be introducing each week with a short overview of what to expect, what you can hope to achieve, and some words of inspiration. I'll be taking you through your eight-week journey back into the world of work in science, technology, engineering, and maths. The Open University has produced this course because we know there are many people, women and men, who are already qualified or experienced in STEM, but not working in these sectors.
I left school at 16 with five O levels. At 25, I was a single parent with three kids, wondering how on Earth I was going to earn enough money to look after my children as they grew up. I decided to go back into full-time education with a view to getting a degree and then a job that would pay a good salary. I was really scared at first and lacked confidence. But I soon got the hang of it and ended up loving it.
There's lots of reasons that you might be in the situation you're in now. You might have been on a career break, taking some time out to look after children or other dependents. Or you may have been made redundant. Or perhaps your contract has ended. Whatever your circumstances, we're here to help you make that transition back into STEM.
This week, you'll start with some reflection. You'll be taking a look back at your previous experiences to see what you can learn from what's already been. You'll be building on the positive and seeing how you can develop ways to deal with the barriers you might be facing. We'll also be telling you about success stories, strategies that other returners have used. So good luck with this week's learning. And I look forward to seeing you again next week.
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You’ll begin the course by taking a look at some of the potential pitfalls and steps up in getting back to work, and think about what these might mean to you. You’ll also find out what the course might do for you. Next, you’ll move on to reflect on your career so far and start to look at ways you might be able to make a change.

As suggested in the Introduction and guidance [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , it is recommended that you keep notes (either online or paper-based, whichever you prefer) to record your notes and responses to the activities throughout the course. There are also several tables and documents which are useful to work on directly and keep.

By the end of this week you should be able to:

  • reflect on your own career journey
  • identify your key experiences and attributes
  • know what some of the main strategies for returning to work look like
  • be prepared and motivated to make a change.

The Open University would really appreciate a few minutes of your time to tell us about yourself and your expectations for the course before you begin, in our optional start-of-course survey. Participation will be completely confidential and we will not pass on your details to others.


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