Returning to STEM
Returning to STEM

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Returning to STEM

Week 6: Getting support


Don’t think you can do it all by yourself – ask for help! Get as many people on board as you can – family, friends and colleagues as well as support networks … They were great at telling me where I could go for help and constantly updated me on what was happening next.

Patricia McCalla, building control surveyor and career break returner

Last week you looked at work–life balance and, in doing so, you may have identified areas where you will need to get support.

This week, you’ll be finding out how to get support to help you to meet the particular challenges of returning to the workplace. Meeting these challenges is much easier if you get advice, encouragement and help from people around you. You will start by looking at strategies to boost your confidence, and then go on to look at mentoring and how others can support you in your career progression. You’ll also be learning how best to develop your networks and contacts using LinkedIn.

Now listen to Sue, who’s going to tell you what to expect from this week, as well as how mentors have helped her in her own career:

Download this video clip.Video player: 38062_stem_week6_512x256.mp4
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Hi. This week’s all about strengthening your networks. First of all, you'll be looking at confidence, something that's very often a major issue but difficult to put your finger on. When you've been out of work, you can feel that the world of work is a million miles away, especially if you've been focused on the needs of children and family. You may have lost confidence in your professional identity. So you'll be exploring what confidence means and some tips on how to empower yourself.
You've probably heard the phrase, no man is an island. And this is a really important part of re-emerging into the professional world. This week is all about how to use your contacts and networks to help you. You'll be dusting off your old address books and using your LinkedIn account to reconnect to people you may have lost touch with. You'll be looking at the power of mentoring and finding out how to get yourself a mentor.
I've had lots of mentors in my life, people who've made a real difference to me, for example, Dame Professor Wendy Hall at the University of Southampton. I heard Wendy speak at an events many years ago and thought, I want to be like her.
After her talk, I approached Wendy, asking if she'd be my mentor. She very politely said she'd love to but didn't have the time. Undeterred, I asked her for just one hour a year of her time. She agreed. I was so delighted. That one hour a year has been really helpful over the years.
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By the end of this week you will have:

  • used positive thinking to increase your confidence
  • reflected on formal and informal mentors who have influenced you
  • identified mentors who can help you in the future
  • mapped the three circles of networks and contacts
  • used LinkedIn to extend your own network of contacts
  • written and practised your elevator pitch.

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