Deloitte’s Adrienne Bolger spoke to us about the Return to Work programme and how it helped her re-enter the workforce post-Covid.
Returning to work after a career break can be quite difficult. Without proper assistance or guidance, many people can struggle to find their feet again in the workforce. However, there are plenty of resources out there to help people return to their careers successfully.
One such resource is Deloitte’s Return to Work programme. The programme, which assists people with re-entering the workforce after a career break of 18 months or more, was recently announced as recommencing this year. The Return to Work programme is a six-month internship where participants work with Deloitte while receiving mentorship and learning opportunities along the way. Successful candidates can then be potentially offered a permanent position with Deloitte at the end of the programme.
Adrienne Bolger, a solutions manager working in consulting for business operations at Deloitte, successfully participated in the Return to Work programme. We spoke to her about her experience on the scheme and how it helped her to return to her career post-Covid.
‘Returning to the workforce after a break has its own challenges, but as I returned post-Covid to a changed work landscape, it provided its own unique challenges and learnings’
Tell me a bit about your own career background before the Return to Work Programme.
I have many years of experience in professional project and programme management, having worked across several industry sectors including insurance/reinsurance, public sector and banking – most recently in a large-scale digital transformation programme. I’ve always enjoyed the variety of projects I’ve been fortunate to work on and learning new technologies, different industry sectors and their business models.
What made you want to apply?
I had an unplanned career break throughout the pandemic and whilst I was very grateful that I could attend to important family matters during this period, I also really wanted to reconnect to my career once all the restrictions had been lifted. The advertisement for the returner’s programme really appealed to me as it listed features that were, and still are, important to me – top-class training, learning opportunities, career coaching and flexible working arrangements.
Deloitte’s stated purpose of ‘making an impact that matters’ resonated with me on a personal level and this together with the opportunities for growth and learning with Deloitte really motivated me to apply.
What did the application and interview process look like for the programme?
The application process was very straightforward. I was initially contacted by the recruiter and had subsequent interviews with a director and partner. From my perspective, the interviewers always put me at my ease but covered a lot of detail in an informal way. It was evident throughout the process that the emphasis on shared values and purpose were just as important as my experience in securing my position. There were no delays in communicating the offer of a position which I was delighted to accept.
How did the Return to Work programme support your transition back into the workforce after a career break?
There were a variety of supports and initiatives which helped make the transition as smooth as possible for the whole returners’ group. The Return to Work programme provided continuous coaching and mentoring to all participants in a structured and supportive way.
We participated in a specific structured career-coaching programme which ran over a six-month period. Additionally, we were each assigned a buddy and individual Deloitte coach to help navigate our way around Deloitte systems, processes, etc.
As I onboarded remotely, my buddy was invaluable to me. The support I received from both my buddy and coach helped me integrate very quickly into the organisation. The Deloitte coaching support is ongoing and continues to be invaluable in helping me shape my career in the company.
What were some of the biggest challenges around returning to work?
After a break of any length of time, one of the biggest challenges was believing that I had valuable skills and experience to offer. Acknowledging that I could make a positive contribution after a break, irrespective of the length of time I had been out of the paid workforce, was an important step to a successful return to work.
Returning to the workforce after a break has its own challenges, but as I returned post-Covid to a changed work landscape, it provided its own unique challenges and learnings. I onboarded to the company and client sites remotely and most of my training was online also. One of my biggest learnings was being open and adaptable to this new way of working. This has worked well for me as Deloitte offers a hybrid working option, so I can meet with colleagues in person on a regular basis while retaining flexibility about where I am situated on any given day.
Tell me about your new role as project and programme manager. What does it entail?
After the six-month returner’s programme, I was fortunate to be offered a permanent contract as a manager in consulting for core business operations. I work as part of a multivendor, multidisciplinary team to deliver systems solutions for a large regulatory/compliance programme of work. It involves having the ability to adapt to a constantly changing programme and business environment. I am fortunate to work with a great team of supportive people who work together with a flexibility and willingness to accept change and work towards solutions.
What advice would you give to someone considering applying for a returnship or similar programme?
In addition to the structure of the programme itself, the peer support of the returner’s group was invaluable to me. Through having similar shared experiences and challenges, we were able to support each other and make great friends too. I would strongly recommend anyone who has had a career break of any length of time to apply. Deloitte has skilled expertise, experience and teams in a wide range of industries and sectors so there are a huge variety of job opportunities at all levels. Don’t stand in your own way – go for it 100pc – you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!
The Deloitte Return to Work programme is accepting applications until 11 April at 5pm, while the programme itself begins on the 4 September.
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