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‘Returnships’: An Initiative Offering a Path Forward for Moms Who Want to Return to Work

Women re-entering the workforce often struggle to explain the gap in their resume and find employment harder to come by

Women who took break from work can now get back through returnships. Wikimedia
  • ‘Returnships’ are for individuals who have been out of the workforce
  • Women take break from work for childbearing or caregiving reasons
  • It is difficult for them to explain this break and find employment when returning to work

August 20, 2017: How does a former stay-at-home mom become an employee of a tech company that could be worth more than $1 billion?

For Ellein Cheng, mom to a 5½- and a 2½-year-old, the answer involved a “returnship.”

So-called returnships are internships that target men and women who have been out of the workforce, either for childrearing or other caregiving. It gives them a chance to retrain in a new field.

In Cheng’s case, the former math teacher and tutor took a returnship at AppNexus, an online advertising company.

Also Read: Google Buys Indian-Origin Professor Shwetak Patel’s Health Monitoring Start-up

For companies, returnships are an opportunity to tap into more mature and professionally diverse talent pools. For participants who may be out of the workforce, it’s a chance to refresh their networks, learn new skills and try on new roles.

Beneficial arrangement

For both parties, it’s a low-risk, low-commitment arrangement. Companies can achieve their goals to make the employee ranks more diverse. Job seekers can potentially find full-time work.

Cheng’s returnship was set up by Path Forward, a New York-based nonprofit that works with tech companies to coordinate 16-week, paid assignments for those who have been away from the labor market for two or more years because of caregiving.

The organization partners with tech companies that range in size from 30-person startups to behemoths such as PayPal, which has more than 10,000 employees.

“What these companies of every size in the tech sector have in common is rapid growth, and also not enough talent to fulfill their needs,” said Tami Forman, executive director at Path Forward.

Women re-entering the workforce often struggle to explain the gap in their resume and find employment harder to come by, Forman said.

“They often get feedback from companies and recruiters and hiring managers that makes them believe that they’ll never be hired, that no one will ever overlook their gap,” she said. The organization says it gets results — 40 out of the 50 women who have gone through the program were offered ongoing employment at the companies in which they interned.

Teaching background

In her job search, Cheng applied for teaching positions but was also open to other fields. The product support work struck a chord with her in its appeal for candidates “passionate about learning and teaching.”

The program gave both managers and participants the chance to see if a long-term opportunity would be the right fit for them.

It also provided a dose of inspiration.

Other employees were “inspired to see people stepping out of their comfort zone, taking a big risk, working on something they haven’t done before,” Lorraine Buhannic, senior director of talent acquisition at AppNexus, said.

For Cheng, the inspiration came from a more personal place — her daughters.

They are growing up “in a world that is changing so quickly with technology, and I just want to be part of that,” she said. “I want to grow with them, I want to learn with them.”

In the end, the match worked. After the returnship, AppNexus hired Cheng as a product support specialist.

Now working in the fast-paced world of online advertising, Cheng says she doesn’t feel she has left her old self behind.

“I’m still obviously learning a lot, because I’m switching careers completely, but at the same time, still bringing the teaching element part of it every day to work,” she said. (VOA)

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Next Story

These students benefited from an online training. You can too, here’s how

Online learning is an opportunity for you to learn in-demand technical skills such as Web Development, Android App Development, Python or C++ and in-demand management skills such as Business Communication, Advance Excel or Digital Marketing

The competition is high but there still are jobs which fresh graduates can pursue to achieve success. Pixabay
Can't land an internship? An online training course may help. Pixabay
  • Students can benefit a lot from online training
  • There are many online courses available for students to enhance their courses
  • Here is how one can enhance their skills by taking an online course

Before we delve any further, we wanted to share the stories of 3 students and their tryst with online training.

Kapil Arora, a student of Government Engineering College, RTU shares why he opted for an online training and how it was a stepping stone to him becoming an entrepreneur.

From text to graphics, this software does it all. Pixabay
One can take up an online course to enhance their skills and chances of landing an internship. Pixabay

I had an idea for a startup but I couldn’t implement it because I wasn’t familiar with web design. I thought of hiring a web developer, but it wasn’t economical for me, being a student. So, I decided to learn web development myself. The next dilemma was how to learn it. I browsed the internet and after thorough research enrolled in an online training. Once the training began, I was reassured that the quality and learnability of the training modules couldn’t get any better.

After the successful completion of my training and having gained enough knowledge and experienced, I went live with my own startup, Indian Mistry”

Shivam Arora, a student of Allenhouse Business School, U.P couldn’t get an internship, this is how an online training helped him get multiple internships.

“When I was in my 2nd year of BBA, I went to an internship fair at DTU, Delhi. I remember how difficult it was for me to score an internship. I created my resume and started applying for internships. However, I didn’t get selected for an internship, maybe because I didn’t have the right skills. The rejections left me disappointed, and I stopped applying further. Then, I came to know about online training. I enrolled myself in 3 trainings – Advance Excel, Business Communication Skills, and Digital Marketing.

After the successful completion of the trainings, I reworded my resume and added these skills to it. I began applying to internships once again; this time I got selected for 4 out of the 6 internships I had applied to. My dashboard that earlier showed ‘Not selected’ now showed ‘Hired’ or ‘In Touch’. Till date, I have successfully completed 4 internships and am pursuing 2 internships currently.” 

It is important to acquire skills before one go ahead and apply for an internship.

Abhishek Bhattacharya is pursuing B.Tech from Maharaja Surajmal Institute of Technology, this is how an online training helped him get a full-time job.

Also Read: 10 Best Jobs for Fresh Graduates

I had always been motivated to learn newer technological concepts and make relevant use of them, but I wasn’t familiar with any useful tutorials or trainings. After surfing the internet rigorously, I found a training on Data Analytics. I began my training with the excitement of building a project just after 4 weeks. The content was exquisite and perfect for a beginner with no or little knowledge of analytics. 
The best part of taking up this training was that it gave me an edge during my job application. It was a group interview and I had to stand out from my peers to get the job. The interviewer asked me why I wanted to work in IT despite being an electronics graduate. I told them that IT attracted me and that I had even built an analytics project, which was a core computer science project. I was asked to explain the project, and I did. The interviewers were satisfied and extended me a job offer.”

Kapil, Shivam and Abhishek realized that they weren’t skilled to get an internship or a job. This made them enrol for an online training and their life changed for better.

There are several online courses available to enhance one's skills and capabilities. Wikimedia Commons
There are several online courses available to enhance one’s skills and capabilities. Wikimedia Commons

Online learning is an opportunity for you to learn in-demand technical skills such as Web Development, Android App Development, Python or C++ and in-demand management skills such as Business Communication, Advance Excel or Digital Marketing. Online learning can truly make a difference in your academic or professional career – to being able to better understand topics to upskilling yourself and standing out from the rest of the students, online learning is the solution!

This is a guest post contributed by Sarvesh Agrawal, CEO of Internshala. Internshala is India’s most popular portal for finding internship positions. It also provides skill building training programs. For details, visit Internshala Trainings (