Archana and Sheeja prepare for work

Archana and Sheeja joined the GRoW Programme as they were keen to start looking for work following career breaks to raise their children.  They have both engaged fully with the GRoW activities and recently attended the GRoW Preparing to Work in Schools sessions which has piqued their interest in a range of school roles as well as giving them food for thought for other jobs they could apply for.

Archana said; “I first heard about the GRoW Programme through my son’s school as the GRoW team came to introduce themselves after a parents meeting one day.  Sheeja and I went along to find out what they were all about and we were really interested in what GRoW had to offer.  We were both looking to return to work but not only did we lack the information on where to start, we were both quite low in confidence and it was holding us back.

I had worked as a dietician in a hospital in India but I left my job when I had my child and soon after we moved to Europe for my husband’s work.  I hadn’t considered going back to work until my son was older and so I have spent the past 10 years focusing on my family and being a wife and mother.  Since moving to the UK I have made some friends and I have been very comfortable with my life but I also felt I had lost some of my identity.  I felt it was time to start focusing on myself a bit and going back to work was a good place to start.

Since joining GRoW I have been fully involved with all of the activities – the Friday Coffee Mornings, the CV and Interview Workshops, GRoW Bootcamp and most recently the Women into Work Session which was really excellent.  All the ladies who attended were from different backgrounds and had children attending different schools in the area We spoke about so many different things, not just about how to find a job, but things relating to social and community events in my area for example.  I was given so much information that I hadn’t been aware of before and it was so great to be able to meet everyone face to face.

Something I had become interested in following the Covid-19 lockdown when I had been homeschooling my son was the idea of becoming a Teaching Assistant. When GRoW told me about their Preparing to Work in Schools Programe I really wanted to go along because I didn’t know very much about how to get that type of job.  The Preparing to Work in Schools Programme was so informative because it introduced me to so many more opportunities than just being a Teaching Assistant.  I hadn’t realised there were so many different roles and it taught me all about each role and what type of experience, skills or qualifications I would need for each role.  I also learned how best to approach schools to volunteer or find work.  One of the most important pieces of advice they gave was to look at the individual school’s values statement.  I didn’t know that each school has their own set of values which they publish on their websites or on the job description and you need to understand this before you apply for a job so that you can tailor what you say and how their values fit with your own.

Preparing to work in schools was 4 sessions, held remotely over Zoom and we got to meet lots of other mums and listen to our different experiences.  We had breakout rooms where we could raise questions and there were lots of opportunities to network and interact with each other, getting more and more information all the time.  It was very productive for me and for the past two months I have felt so much happier with myself.  Before I joined GRoW I really wasn’t that confident but that has changed.  My confidence has really increased and I am so proud of myself.  I am learning new things all the time, getting new experiences and will be doing a Safeguarding course now and all for free!

GRoW have helped me every step of the way to help guide me on where to find jobs, who to contact and how.  All of the GRoW team members have tried so hard for me that I want to try hard for them too and push myself forward. When I first went on the Preparing to Work in Schools programme I had the idea of just being a Teaching Assistant but I learned so much more about working in all different kinds of jobs and not just in schools, and all the different things we need to do before we apply that it has made me rethink. I am actively looking for a job now, not just in schools but in other industries too, such as retail or healthcare.  The CV Sonia worked on with me is now ready and even though I have been out of work for almost 10 years my CV shows I have lots of skills and experience. Recognising this has given me so much confidence and I can’t wait now to start applying for jobs and I’ll give anything a shot!

Sheeja said; “Before moving to the UK in 2018 I had worked in India for a Telecoms company as a Testing Engineer. When my child started full time education I became interested in going back to work but the pandemic hit which meant I delayed it for a while as I was homeschooling my child.  When he went back to school I enrolled in some courses related to networking and learning programme languages which relate to the job I had in Telecoms as I thought it would be good to refresh my knowledge and achieve a certification if I wanted to return to that sector.  As these courses are long-term I was keen to start exploring other opportunities in the meantime and so joined GRoW to find out how they could help me get back to work.

Joining grow is one of the best things I have ever done as they have helped me gain confidence and believe in myself that I can do it.  I have enrolled in so many courses now and have applied for jobs too.  I was thinking a lot about working in a school because working just term-time would suit my family and so when I was offered the chance to go on the Preparing to Work in Schools Programme I was really interested.  It was a great help because they gave me so much information on the types of jobs available and the qualifications I would need and also how to tailor my CV when I apply to a school. It was very informative and at the end of the session they provided us with the opportunity to study a range of courses for free.  We could do Safeguarding, Food and Hygiene and Data Protection courses and I will definitely be doing these. I am open to the idea of any job now and will start applying soon.  Once I have done the Safeguarding training I will apply for a Teaching Assistant or Admin role in a school.

GRoW have absolutely increased my confidence and anyone who saw me on the first day of GRoW will definitely say so!  I have learned something new from every session I have attended and felt more confident each time as a result. I have spoken to new people and got to know people from all different backgrounds.  The employability sessions with Sonia were so informative, helping me understand how to respond to questions, how to tailor my cv and write covef letters.  I joined the GRoW Bootcamp which was 4 sessions and the difference in all of us from when we first met is amazing.  All of us have become more confident and have clear goals of where we want to be and what we are going to do.  GRoW really has been great and I’m looking forward to putting all of the things I have learned into use.”

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