Tag: "volunteering"

Changing Career through volunteering with the Army Cadet Force

Changing Career through volunteering with the Army Cadet Force

Kim Green is a single mother of two teenage sons, an incident management coordinator, and a Sergeant Instructor with the Army Cadet Force. For many, changing career, holding down a full time job, finding the time to volunteer and bringing up two children all at the same time might seem like an impossible task, but as Kim’s story shows, a little self-belief can go a long way.

As a single Mum I have the honour of being both Mum and Dad in our house – hard work but the rewards far outweigh the tiredness. I don’t like to see myself as anyone special; I’m the sort of person that just gets the job done. I first properly learned about the Army Cadet Force when my eldest son joined. He would tell me about all the fun he had on weekends away, what they taught, and all the things he was learning in his unit. I did know the ACF existed before this, as I had tried to join back in 1979 when I was just 11, but at that time girls weren’t allowed to join.

Joining the ACF wasn’t really my decision

When I’d go to pick up my eldest son the other adult instructors would always ask me whether I was interested in helping out and volunteering. After politely declining for two years, one day I went into the ACF stores for a pair of boots and ended up coming out as an adult instructor – I’ve never looked back!

Since joining the ACF, I’ve completely changed career

Before joining, I was working in finance, in a steady office environment. However, through volunteering and teaching young adults in one way or another over the years, I gained the confidence and skills needed to try out a career in the classroom. I then moved onto a career as a curriculum cover assistant within the classrooms at my local secondary school; I loved the moment of realisation when a young person finally sees what I have seen in them all along, and truly believes they can achieve something great. I recently changed careers again, and now work as an incident management coordinator, allowing me to put even more of my ACF experience to use.

Although I love my job now, I know that with the ACF I’ll have earned the skills and experience for a number of other careers. For example, I’d love to work as an outreach worker in the future, helping

those who need it the most. I could even move into the outdoors and adventurous training side of things!

The same skills I have used to raise my sons on my own are the same skills I use within cadets, and it seems to work

As both my sons are cadets, the Army Cadet Force really is a family affair for all of us. I feel we’ve all gained so much out of being in the ACF. My sons have seen me work hard and never give up at my commitments, and I like to think that the combined influence of myself and being a cadet has had a great impact on them both. Watching throughout cadets, I’ve seen them both grow into confident, active young men. For my youngest, I feel that the ACF has given him perspective, and helped him work through difficult situations to see the bigger picture.

This is something I absolutely love doing

I love to help and be of help, and I love being a female adult instructor, as I can roll my experience as a mother and as a mentor into one. I only have one regret, which is coming to the cadet force at an older age. I wish I’d have been involved in this years ago; I know I could have achieved so much more than I already have done.

Author: Kim Green is a Sergeant Instructor at the Royal County of Berkshire Army Cadet Force. Find out more about volunteering with the ACF as an adult

Flexible Working

Find your way back to work through Strategic Volunteering

Volunteering is a common activity among former professionals who are on a career break, whether or not they wish to return to work at some point. Charities, PTAs and local campaigns are always in need of additional support and committed people: for women on a career break they can provide the companionship and sense of purpose that they previously found in their career, as well as essential flexibility.
It is very easy to fill your time with voluntary roles, especially once your children are in school and you can quickly feel very busy, productive and valued.  If you are thinking of returning to work at some stage, though, it is worth thinking about volunteering that can help you with your return either through developing your existing skills or acquiring new ones and, additionally, building your network. This is what we mean by strategic volunteering – work that does more than just make you feel that you are giving something back.

We have worked with many women for whom strategic volunteering was their launch-pad back to work. In some cases this was a deliberate approach and in others, there was a more organic development with the woman discovering a new interest or uncovering a previously hidden talent. You will find more details about some of these examples in our success stories.

These returners planned their volunteering deliberately as a route back to work:
Sue* was a volunteer Games Maker Selection interviewer, with me, for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. She’d previously had a career in HR and used the opportunity of our weekly shift to connect with the London 2012 HR team to find out about other permanent roles in the organisation. Three months into our volunteering she was employed there.

Amy* a former City lawyer volunteered in the legal department of a national charity, advising on contractual matters which was her expertise. After some months she negotiated a move to the trusts and legacy team where she built the knowledge and expertise that enabled her to apply for employment in her target area of private client practice.

In our success stories you can read about Caroline Boyd who joined the Parent Gym as a volunteer trainer/facilitator following a 4 year break from a career in marketing. She loved this new type of work so much that after a year she successfully applied for a permanent training role with the Mind Gym, the commercial arm.

Lynda* a former radio producer used a series of volunteer roles as stepping stones to a new career, starting from the school PTA where she ran a portfolio of increasingly successful fundraising and social events for a number of years. Having regained her professional confidence she volunteered as the campaign manager for a London mayoral candidate, using her journalistic instincts to develop an effective PR campaign from a standing start. Armed with this experience and many new contacts, Lynda was employed by a new political party to manage its PR activity.

julianne&katerinaAuthor: From the blog Women Returners: Back to Your Future aka Julianne Miles and Katerina Gould, an occupational psychologist and an executive coach who support professional women to return to work after a long career break.