Nilima Dusaj had a successful career in Singapore. She worked as a software tester for eight years across diverse sectors and locations before relocating with her family to London. Moving to a new country and with a young daughter to look after, Nilima took an extended maternity break and put her professional life on hold.
After a six-year career break when Nilima eventually started to look for new roles the pandemic hit, bringing the world to a stand still and further delaying her plans of getting back to work. Nilima was one of the nine women who joined the first all-female cohort of the FDM Tech Returners programme in May 2022 and is currently placed with an international financial services conglomerate. We spoke to Nilima to hear her story of getting back to work and the challenges she faced as a career returner in a new country.
The career break taboo
‘When I started to look for opportunities, little had I known that the job hunt was going to be far more difficult than finding a pearl in the ocean’Nilima Dusaj, FDM Tech Returner
Nilima reflects that in the last few years markets have evolved and so have company requirements. While she was applying to roles that matched her previous work experience, she didn’t get any responses from recruiters. In an attempt to be proactive in improving her chances, Nilima had a professional CV review and enrolled in upskilling courses to match her technical knowhow to current market standards. However, even this had little luck until finally an acquaintance told her about the FDM Returners Programme.
‘FDM look for the experience and overlook the gap,’ she says. You can take a career break for any number of reasons – from travelling, to caring for family and children or health reasons. This break becomes a taboo for most recruiters but FDM choose instead to focus on the professional experience that a returner has regardless of the duration of their career gap.
The FDM training
With FDM Nilima found a perfect combination of soft skills and technological upskilling. She mentions that the quality of the training, the expertise of the trainers, the variety of topics and the 9:30am- 4:30pm structure of the training – collectively prepared her for a smooth transition back to the workplace and boosted her confidence. The training she said formed a ‘really good bridge from my gap to the actual onsite’.
The power of collaboration
During the FDM training Nilima recalls the opportunities they had of collaborating with colleagues on team projects. From an angular project that they did as a small group of three to their final project working as a team of nine, Nilima acknowledges how working together helped resurface skills like communication, exchange of ideas, knowledge sharing and distribution of tasks – essential professional skills that seemed to have got lost during her years away from work
Nilima is grateful for the technical knowledge she gained in training that she later applied in projects. She says, ‘this made a huge difference as I never had dreamt of becoming a JAVA developer after a being a manual tester in my previous experience.’
Nilima’s experience highlights FDM’s commitment that anyone can have a career in tech regardless of their background. Returners bring a wealth of transferrable skills and commercial experience and our Returners team at FDM can identify and hone those talents and reskill and upskill you to explore new avenues that could be widely different to your previous roles.
Support at FDM
Nilima reflects on how FDM has supported her on this journey back to work. She mentions both the Returners team and trainers who understood the additional family and caring responsibilities that she and her colleagues had op top the training.
The opportunity to attend training fully from home was helpful as it saved her time by not having to travel anywhere. She was able to complete her training whilst being available for her daughter and this logistical support was a big relief for her.
Tips for returners
Nilima’s tip for potential returners is, ‘FDM is believing in you and betting on your experience so believe in yourself. Have faith and complete the training with the zeal with which you had been working previously’.
If you've had a career break and are now looking to get back to work, apply to FDM's Returners Programme to launch an exciting career in business or tech.