Crossing Thresholds is a 12-month career mentoring programme for women who want to develop their career in a structured and supportive environment. It is open to women from AO to G6.
My journey with Crossing Thresholds (CT) started by accident. I was looking for a development programme to help me think about ‘where next?’, and stumbled upon CT while browsing the Civil Service Learning website.
None of my colleagues had heard about CT (I found out on day one of the course that all the other participants had come by recommendation), and I confess I was slightly dubious about the ‘women only’ label, but the content was really appealing and my line manager supportive. So, I took the plunge, hoping that the time and financial commitments would prove well worth it.
One year (and a bit) on, I can confirm that they really were.
The programme was a refreshing reminder that we are lucky enough to have choices: women who’ve made the choice to have a career, and have been supported in doing so through the education and training we have received, from our families, partners and employers and a society that recognises the contribution that working women make; and women supported in our professional development by the Civil Service, and our managers who endorsed our participation. That gave me a kind of moral obligation to make the best of the opportunity!
So, what did I get out of the programme?
Well, to start with, I got to know and learn from a group of fantastic women from organisations across government. Having worked solely for the Forestry Commission for the UK part of my career (I’m originally from France), this insight into the wider Civil Service was a bonus in itself.
I also took three main things away: be clear, be bold, be confident.
- Be clear: we spent time at the start defining what it is we wanted and, almost as importantly, what we did not want from our careers. Having got that clarity, we were able to focus on how to make it happen. Many of us adapted our plans, but consciously so, deciding to make changes or compromises, not just letting things happen.
- Be bold: we know it – women are frequently not as good as men at negotiating and being assertive about what they want. So, how about we start asking? After all, the worst we risk is a ‘no’ – surely worse things happen. And what we don’t ask for, we certainly will not get.
- Be confident: women tend to underestimate their skills and abilities compared to men. So, let’s take an objective look at what we are really good at – as well as what we can learn/become better at. And then let’s pitch this confidently.
One year on, I’m in a role that I would simply never have applied for were it not for Crossing Thresholds, and I‘m truly enjoying it. I now actively promote the programme, and have become a mentor for CT participants, while I continue to work on my own development.
One last thing: my former line manager, who encouraged me to join Crossing Thresholds; my current manager, who is supporting my development; the panel that recruited me into my new role; the partner who supports me every step of the way and shares the parenting and housekeeping… they’re all men. It’s not just women who are ready to give women time and space to develop in the workplace. Just saying.
You can find out more about Crossing Thresholds and book a place on the programme on the Civil Service Learning website.