In March this year, details of a new DWP Digital programme, Digital Voices, landed in our inboxes. It was aimed at women working in the organisation who were interested in building their confidence and engagement skills.
The programme launched in April and two launch meetings were held in Manchester and Leeds, with a group of very nervous women wondering what we’d let ourselves in for. I think some of us were also wondering why we were there amongst such talented and confident women – a definite touch of ‘imposter syndrome’, which we learned, during the programme, is quite common.
Reflecting on how far we’ve come
At the end of July nine of us ‘graduated’ as the first Digital Voices cohort at a special event in Leeds. We each recounted what we had got out of the programme, shared feedback to help the programme move forward and took part in a video interview. Amidst the tea, cake and tissues (it did get quite emotional) we reflected on how far we had come in just 12 weeks and vowed to continue to support one another, seeing Digital Voices as ‘Chapter One’, with many more chapters to follow.
The programme presented lots of opportunities and the chance to develop a range of skills. In this blog post four of us reflect on our individual journeys, what we’ve enjoyed and what we got out of the programme.
‘I felt such a boost of confidence afterwards’
Julie Graham, Tech Support Manager
My motivation for applying for Digital Voices was to promote IT as an interesting and rewarding career choice but also to support other women to be more confident. I felt that I had to brush up my skills and improve my own confidence if I wanted to achieve those aims.
The programme was easily accessible as sessions were either by video call or conference call and could fit into my working week. I have tried to incorporate the advice from sessions into my daily life - improving my social media presence, researching new ways of working and putting into practice the advice on confidence when delivering a joint presentation for Women in Digital. While it was a scary experience I felt such a boost of confidence afterwards.
The support from our new network has been fantastic, with lots of encouragement through our WhatsApp group. This has also fired my interest in encouraging younger girls to get involved in digital and I’m looking at ways of doing that.
‘It was a real buzz, I feel I can go on from here’
Deb Blanchard, Product Owner
I joined Digital Voices to seek support in telling my personal story and to increase my confidence.
Standing up in front of the room to talk about myself was a big thing for me, but all that I learnt from the programme and the support from the rest of the cohort, our friends and advocates was a great bolster. And what a buzz when it was done!
The things I have learnt from Digital Voices has made a real impression on me, and it will stay with me. I would truly advocate this as a great opportunity. This is it for me now, I feel like I can go on from here.
‘I’m more confident in speaking up now’
Jane Hall, User Researcher
When I applied for Digital Voices, I’d just returned to DWP Digital after working as an analyst in another part of DWP. I knew that as a user researcher, engaging with others and communicating with impact and confidence, was going to be a key part of my role. I got a tremendous amount out of the virtual sessions with the internal and external speakers, who covered a wide range of topics. I also enjoyed the mentoring aspect of the programme, too.
Twelve weeks on, I now feel more confident in speaking up and speaking out, not just in the more formal settings of giving a presentation. I am certainly more assertive and more likely to contribute to discussions, as well as lead them. I would encourage anyone to take up the opportunity to be a part of Digital Voices in the future.
‘I can do this, I can be a woman in digital’
Angelina Hunter, Tech Support Manager
Digital Voices appealed to me because I felt I wouldn`t be judged - I wouldn’t be the only person lacking in self-confidence and, it would be a good opportunity to develop my digital skills.
Even though I secured a new job just before I started Digital Voices, I still lacked the confidence I knew I needed.
When the programme started, I enjoyed the sessions on blogging as well as working on yourself and how to believe in yourself. But there were still moments when I thought that I was out my depth. However with the support from these strong women who were on this journey with me we boosted each other’s confidence and self-belief.
The turning point for me was the Women in Digital event I attended in June. Hearing the inspirational stories and experiences during this event meant I left on such a high saying, ‘I can do this, I can be a strong woman in digital,’ and I wrote my first blog post on the way home on the train.
I can`t thank everyone enough for all the support and confidence I have received through being part of this special journey. I have been told from my colleagues in my new job and by the users I now support how much confidence I seem to have, and that’s what I wanted to get out of this experience. It’s been brilliant.
Watch a short video of four of the Digital Voices talking about their experiences during the programme.