Not a standard CV? No problem
I graduated from Royal Holloway in 2002 at the age of 22 with a 2:1 degree in Management. Four days later I had a baby.
Most people thought I was mad to start my family straight after university, and I had a lot of questions about what the point of me getting a degree was. For my husband and I it just felt like the right thing to do.
I'd deliberately chosen a general business degree as I didn't have a fixed idea about what career path I wanted to take, and I didn't feel it would lose its value if I didn't work straight away.Read more
For me the hardest thing about being at home with two small boys was the lack of mental stimulation, so I joined a lot of committees, ran toddler groups and generally kept myself busy.
I graduated and qualified as a teacher in January 2008. Although I loved teaching and seeing all the new parents going through the process, I saw a lot of mums struggling with the choice of staying at home or returning to work. I always felt really lucky that I had the choice to be at home with mine because it was really important to me.
We moved to Swindon in 2009 and I gave up teaching as there wasn't enough work for it to be sustainable in the area. My daughter was in nursery so I started thinking about what I would do when she went to school full time. I knew I wanted to work somewhere local, and all of my friends who'd worked for Nationwide before they had children always said what a great employer it was.
My ambition hadn't disappeared so it was really important to me to find somewhere with scope for my career to develop without needing to keep moving companies. I applied for a temporary job in the mortgages team and the graduate scheme at the same time.
I felt really lucky that despite not having a 'standard' CV, Nationwide saw that I was no different to the graduates coming straight from university - I just had life experience to help me along.
I got the mortgages role and started in November, meanwhile my manager and senior manager both encouraged me to continue with my application for the graduate programme whilst I was working.
I wanted to switch to the graduate scheme as I knew it would give me the opportunity to work across different areas of the business, and to really understand how Nationwide worked and what I enjoyed doing. The scheme offered me a structured development programme of workshops and 'on the job learning' so I'd feel more prepared to take on a higher role at the end of the scheme.
Ultimately it was an opportunity to try a lot of different things before I settled into a permanent role. I was so proud when I got a place on the graduate scheme, and my team celebrated with me.
I would actively encourage other people who have done other things before deciding to pursue a career in financial services to consider applying for the graduate scheme; it offers all of the same benefits as it does to those coming straight from university, and as someone with life experience you can bring a different viewpoint and transferable skills which will help you to hit the ground running when you start.Read less