There may come a time in your career where you find yourself asking some really hard questions like, is this what I really want to do? How much longer can I do this? What am I doing with my life? If this sounds familiar, perhaps a secondment is right for you.
Last year, after many years of working in design (trust me, it's been many many years), I found myself in the above position. I'd transitioned from hands-on production to design strategy and was finding the fit not quite right. While I enjoyed helping designers refine their work processes, and studying how they could work more efficiently and advance their careers, I missed actually being able to make things and see the impact.
So when my Director told me about the opportunity to do a secondment in the People Experience team, I was there for it. I saw it as a chance to apply my design skills to engage team members across Digital, helping us all to live better work lives.
There are so many benefits to doing a secondment:
Freshen your perspective
Sometimes it's difficult to solve a problem unless you come at it from a different angle. Taking some time to work on a different team allows you to consider the same problems, but from a different perspective. Not only that, but you'll be able to see things through others' eyes, building empathy for your team members.
Same knowledge; new application
Over your career, you've acquired a certain amount of knowledge and skills. Being able to apply that experience to a different subject matter can rejuvenate your passion in that you can see the value of what you do. Applying those skills in an area that hasn't had the benefit before can be valuable also to your new team, and help them see new potential.
New faces, new projects
Working with a new team will broaden your network and help you to get to know new people, which is always enriching. The more people you get to know, the less opportunity there is to feel like it's you against them, as you realize that you're actually all one team; one dream.
Explore the organization
Just as you'll get to know new people, you'll get to know a different area of the business as well, adding missing puzzle pieces to the big picture. Big picture thinking is a valuable skill for any team member to have as it enables you to make decisions that consider multiple areas of the business, leading to the most impactful and sustainable outcomes.
Give yourself a break
You know that saying about how insanity is doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results? Surely staying in the same job forever while unhappy and wondering why you're still unhappy is the same thing. Sometimes you just need to shake things up. This is both beneficial for the employee and employer as a disengaged employee is not going to be productive, so they're better off disrupting a little to try and reinvigorate their career mojo.
Let's say you've got a houseplant and you leave it in the same pot. Sure, it'll grow (provided you water it regularly and give it enough light), but what would happen if after a while, you moved it to a bigger pot? Chances are it'll grow even bigger. Changing your working environment can be a great opportunity for growth. That's not to say that you're not going to grow while staying in the same job, but a transplant might be what you need to give yourself a boost.
Try it, you might like it
Think an area of the business might be for you, but you're not sure? Try it! You might like it. And if you don't, at least you'll know. But you'll never know unless you try.
Allow myself to introduce...myself...to myself
It's when we try new things that we get to see a side of ourselves that we didn't know existed. Sometimes it can be useful to put yourself into an unfamiliar situation to see what you're capable of. Stretch your boundaries. Get out of your comfort zone. When it comes to work secondments, it can be helpful to look at it beyond the work application and see it as an opportunity to learn about yourself.
Change is hard. Changing jobs is really hard. Before you take a big jump, consider taking a smaller one with a work secondment. It's an excellent opportunity to share your skills, broaden your horizons, get to know new team members, add value to the organization, and above all, get to know yourself better.