Returning to STEM
Returning to STEM

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Returning to STEM

1 Strategies for returning to STEM

Figure 1 Strategies

In Week 1 [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , you read about the strategies that worked for people who have successfully returned to STEM after a career break. While the types of work they went back into varied considerably, there were five main strategies that had helped them:

  • Foot in the door – a great way to get started on the journey back to work is volunteering, carrying out unpaid work, or working in a non-STEM role within a STEM organisation, which can give you access to hidden job opportunities.
  • Networking – your contacts and networks can help you find jobs that have not been publicly advertised. These can include friends or family as well as previous professional contacts, and you can use LinkedIn to reconnect with employers or former work colleagues who you have previously lost touch with.
  • Retraining – you might decide to undertake a completely new qualification that will take you into a different but related career. On the other hand, you may need to refresh your skills and learn new techniques that will update you in your specialist field.
  • Helping hand – remember, you are not alone in your quest to return to STEM work. There are a number of agencies and funding resources specifically for women returners, such as the Daphne Jackson Trust, as well as other organisations, advisors and formal networks.
  • Back to basics – sometimes it might be necessary to make a trade-off and work in a lower status job, perhaps at low rates of pay, in return for flexibility and proximity to home. You may decide to use this as a stopgap until a future time when you can commit more time to work. Remember that you need to consider your work life balance as a whole when you are planning your return, so, by all means be ambitious, but you must also be realistic about what is feasible.

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371