What is it like to start out in internal communication (IC) or to return after a period away? What do you need to know and how can you get up to speed?

This article will help you.

Today I have a guest post by Sarah Drake, an experienced Senior Internal Communications Manager with more than 10 years’ experience working on change communications, channel development and with senior leaders.

Sarah’s previous roles include working in the publishing industry. In 2012 she was named in the Institute of Internal Communication’s ‘Top 30 under 30’ list and first wrote a blog post for me back in 2011.

She’s here to share her story and experiences of working in IC.

If you are new to internal communication, I have just the course for you. I’m running my next Internal Communication Masterclass on 21 March in London. It’s a safe space and a small group where you can come and ask questions, get advice and meet peers. See my Masterclasses website and the end of this article for more info. There are a handful of places left and I’d love you to join me.

Here’s Sarah…

The world of IC. A year and a bit on.

‘Getting back in the saddle’. ‘Dipping your toes in’. ‘Testing the water’. When I made the decision at the beginning of this year to start researching the current Internal Comms (IC) jobs market again old colleagues and contacts of mine weren’t short of puns and quips to describe my situation.

Interestingly for me however, the last few months of research haven’t felt like a ‘test’ or an opportunity to get ‘back on my bike’ – because truth be told it doesn’t for a second feel like it’s been over 18 months since I last had a proper job.

I’m happy to say the IC world is still as welcoming and appealing as it ever was before.

When my maternity leave came to an end in June 2017 I made a conscious decision not to return to work. I wasn’t ready. A year off with my son just hadn’t been enough and greedy me wanted more time. He seemed on the cusp of great things – having just started to walk (the last of his pals to do so) and was really growing fast and developing his unique little personality – and I wanted more time to enjoy him.

So, I handed in my resignation at Barclays and said “goodbye for now” to my career in the city – swapping conference calls for play dates and back to back meetings with baby yoga and sensory classes.

New year, new idea
As the clock struck midnight on 31 December, I started to reflect on my year and a bit ‘off’ and think about what 2018 had in store for me and my family. My mind soon drifted to past roles and with my rose-tinted glasses on I was able to reminisce about the good old times and some of the fantastic experiences I have had throughout my career in IC.

The variety, pace, challenges and hurdles were all calling me back.

Like many others 1 January sparked something in me. While I wasn’t ready to make any new year’s resolutions just yet, I wanted to find out what was out there again and soon relished the opportunity to rekindle some old IC flames – turning to LinkedIn and the All Things IC blog to reconnect.

While I’ve tried to keep abreast of what’s hot while I’ve been playing mum, the last few months have rewarded me with an excuse to really feed my interests again and check out the market too.

Being the close-knit community that we are – fellow IC chums have out done themselves when it comes to providing me with contacts and links to get me back up to speed, reminding me in the process what a small but ever-growing community we belong to.

One of the many reasons I love it so much and know I’ll be back again someday.

Recently I’ve had great pleasure speaking to Jane Johnson, who featured as a guest on the All Things IC blog back in October – talking about her unique recruitment agency FEEL, whose candidates have more than 10 years’ experience and whose clients offer roles with some kind of flexibility.

Piquing my interest, I’ve been inspired by what Jane has set up and am excited to watch her business expand and grow as the working world continues to embrace this way of working.

Further reading on the All Things IC blog: Can you work flexibly and succeed in Comms? by Jane Johnson.

So where does that leave me now?

Apart from itching to get back into the world of IC good and proper, I’m fortunate to be in a situation where I can take my time and keep searching for a role that is right for me – and most importantly my family.

What the last few months have taught me is that flexible working would be number one when it comes to my next role.

I’d love to be able to work from home, and am keen to explore short term projects and campaigns too. I’ve been disheartened to see very few part-time or job-share roles in the current market – but that hasn’t stopped me looking.

When I think back to the roles I have done before, I am confident that elements could be done remotely – in fact in the past I’ve had stakeholders on the opposite side of the world so I know it can be successful!

In the meantime, I’ll continue enjoying my excuse to catch up with IC friends, in between play dates at the local soft play centre of course, and I look forward to hearing from others who have made the move back to IC after a career break.

Post author: Sarah Drake.

Thank you Sarah. You can contact her via email: drakesarah5@gmail.com.

How to learn about internal communication

Want to learn more about internal communication? See my Free Resources page to discover hundreds of ideas, articles and inspiration to help you.

Yesterday I published an article – what you need to know before applying for a comms job – featuring Sue Palfrey, Head of Internal Communications at the National Trust.

In it I detailed all the ways you can learn about internal communication if you are job hunting and want to access recruiters, publications and networks. Rather than repeat it here, I encourage you to check it out for a bumper crop of resources.

How I can help you learn about internal communication

If you are new to internal communication, I have just the course for you. I’m running my next Internal Communication Masterclass on 21 March 2018 in London.

It’s a safe space and a small group where you can come and ask questions, get advice and meet peers.

Want to find out more? I’ve recorded a short audio guide to help you:

Want to know what one of my Masterclasses looks like?
Here’s a picture from my recent Change Communication Masterclass…

It costs £599 +VAT per person and if you’re a CIPR or IoIC member you can save 20%. See my Masterclasses website for more info. There are a handful of places left and I’d love you to join me.

What’s it like to attend the Internal Communication Masterclass?

“The All Things IC Comms Masterclass was spot on for re-invigorating my passion for internal communications and providing a toolkit of great ideas and approaches to implement back in the office. The best part was spending time with like-minded comms professionals sharing ideas and experiences. I thoroughly recommend to anyone working in comms new or old to sign up to one of Rachel’s classes – plus she provides fab goodie bags!!” – Becky Wren, Marketing Manager, Screwfix.

Thank you Becky. What’s it like to study theory in the IC Masterclass?…

“Rachel’s IC knowledge is immense, and she’s incredibly generous with it. The Masterclass was well structured and interesting, with a good mix of theory and practical skills. I left full of ideas, with a reading and action list I’m looking forward to getting stuck into. Thanks Rachel!” – Lindsay Narey, Communications Executive, Metropolitan.

If you’re looking for ideas, see my list of 31 recommended books to read to learn about communication..

I came away completely buzzing with inspiration and ideas and happy that I’d had the space to take a step back and think creatively about what we’re doing and why. Having time to think and reflect always feels like a bit of a luxury but it’s so important. Thank you Rachel for a brilliant day.  – Alison Robinson, Internal Communications Officer, Birketts LLP

If you are an IoIC or CIPR member, you can earn CPD (Continuing Professional Development) points while you learn. Don’t forget to log your learning after the Masterclass. You will receive a certificate on the day to prove your attendance.

How I learn about comms

Here are some of the ways I learn about comms:

  • Talk to my clients, peers and people in my network.
  • Ask questions online e.g. @TheICCrowd, @AllthingsIC.
  • Take part in Twitter chats e.g. @commschat on a Monday night.
  • Listen to podcasts e.g. FIR, ICology, C-Suite.
  • Watch TED talks.
  • Speak at and attend industry conferences and events.
  • Read blogs.
  • Be an active member of professional bodies.
  • Participate in CPD schemes.
  • Judge industry awards.
  • Contribute to books.
  • Work Out Loud by writing the All Things IC blog.
  • Read comms books and journals. See my list of 31 recommended reads.
  • Subscribe to comms publications.
  • Read case studies and award entries.

How do you learn about internal communication? What has helped you get back to work or learn about IC? As ever, you’re welcome to comment below or you can find me on Twitter @AllthingsIC.

Thank you for stopping by


First published on the All Things IC blog 5 March 2018.

I've put together this free guide to help you build your personal brand and increase your influence at work.

Enter your details below to receive your copy.
I've put together this Channels Matrix to help you plan your Comms Strategy

Enter your email below to receive your copy.
I've put together this free planner to help you plan your 
time more effectively

Enter your details below to receive your copy.