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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

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Returnships
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.

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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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Young Dairy Farmers from Rajasthan’s Kota City sell Cow Dung Cakes online on Amazon

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Cow dung, Wikimedia

Jaipur, May 7, 2017: Three young entrepreneurs from Rajasthan’s Kota city — otherwise known as an education hub — have taken their 15-year-old dairy farming family business to the next level and are now selling cow dung cakes on e-tailing site Amazon.

“We found potential in this business. For the last three months, we have been selling cow dung cakes on Amazon,” Amanpreet Singh, one of the three directors of APEI Organic Foods, said.

These cakes, about the size of a quarter-plate, are priced at Rs 120 per dozen. They currently have an average sale of 15 consignments — each of 500-1,000 cakes — per week.

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“We are getting a good response, mainly from Mumbai, Delhi and Pune,” Singh said.

The product is packaged in such a way that the cakes don’t break.

For starters, the dung, which is a semi-liquid mixture, is first dried. It is then put into a circular die which goes through a heat-shrinking process. The finished product is then packed in cardboard boxes and dispatched.

Singh stated that the idea of reaching out to buyers online came due to the demand from Tier-I cities, where there is lack of any livestock management and dairies. “People basically want it for religious purposes in these cities,” Singh added.

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The company’s livestock farm is spread over 40 acres near Kota and has 120 cows. It is equipped with modern infrastructure, effective connectivity, skilled manpower and other amenities.

The family-owned organic dairy milk brand is aptly titled “GAU” — meaning cow — but has been derived from the initials of the three directors, Gagandeep Singh, Amanpreet Singh and Uttamjyot Singh.

The promoters are likely to be in great demand at the forthcoming Global Rajasthan Agritech Meet (GRAM) being held in Kota from May 24 to 26.

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Singh said that the fodder for the cows is grown organically in a healthy and well-nurtured environment. Waste from the dairy farm is utilised to produce electricity, gas, vermicompost and cowdung cakes.

The company has installed radio-frequency identification (RFID) on the livestock which helps them track the health and nutrition of the cattle from anywhere across the world.

The director claimed that this dairy farm also has Rajasthan’s first biogas plant that generates electricity. This is the only source of electricity at the farm, producing 40 KW per day. This saves around Rs 24 lakh annually, he added. (IANS)

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India-based technology company Infosys to create 10,000 jobs in the United States

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FILE - An Infosys employee sports a t-shirt featuring a U.S. flag as he buys coupons for lunch while others wait for their turn at company headquarters in Bangalore, India, April 15, 2016. VOA

India-based technology company Infosys said Tuesday it will create 10,000 jobs in the United States, growing its American footprint at a time when it has become a political target in the U.S.

Infosys has been a big user of H1-B visas in the U.S., a program under which overseas firms, most often technology companies, move foreign workers to the United States after the overseas businesses declare they cannot find enough qualified U.S. workers. Critics of the visa program say the foreign firms have cost U.S. workers their jobs, however, because the foreign companies usually pay the temporary workers less than they would have had to pay American employees to do the same job.

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As part of his “America First” pledge, President Donald Trump recently ordered government agencies to review the visa program. Trump said he wants to bring in the “best and brightest” foreign workers and reform immigration laws as they relate to work and border security. But one suggested reform – that companies paying the highest wages be granted the work visas – would directly affect Infosys.

FILE - Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka speaks during a press conference after announcing the company's quarterly financial results at its headquarters in Bangalore, India, July 15, 2016.
FILE – Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka speaks during a press conference after announcing the company’s quarterly financial results at its headquarters in Bangalore, India, July 15, 2016. VOA

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which manages the visa petitions, says that about 70 percent of the 85,000 H1-B visas issued annually go to Indians, and more than half of them are working for information technology companies like Infosys, which then outsource the workers to American firms.

Infosys has been one of the biggest users of the H1-B visa program, sending more than 15,000 workers to the U.S. in the last two years, although it has trimmed its visa requests for this year. Under the program, foreign-born workers typically can be employed for three years by a sponsor company and apply to stay longer.

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Infosys said it would hire the 10,000 U.S. workers over the next two years, opening four technology centers, with the first in the midwestern state of Indiana, where Vice President Mike Pence was governor before Trump tapped him as his running mate in last year’s national political campaign.

Infosys chief executive Vishal Sikka told Reuters, “The reality is, bringing in local talent and mixing that with the best of global talent in the times we are living in and the times we’re entering, is the right thing to do. It is independent of the regulations and the visas.” (VOA)

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Involvement of people through Khadi Industry can help tackle problems in Kashmir: Minister

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Khadi , Pixabay

New Delhi, April 25, 2017: Enthused by the response to first-ever national Khadi exhibition in Jammu and Kashmir last year, Union Minister Kalraj Mishra on Tuesday said that involvement of people through Khadi industry can help tackle problems in Kashmir.

“We want to generate maximum employment with our motto ‘One Yarn, One Nation’. We are going to organise such exhibitions regularly in the valley (Kashmir), as this symbol of self-reliance can give the people enough courage to tackle the problems there,” the Union Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) said.

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Addressing the 644th meeting of Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) at Gandhi Darshan (Rajghat), Mishra said that initially people were apprehensive of taking part in the KVIC’s national exhibition-cum-sale.

“But in a day or two, people there realised that making Khadi products can be the best way for them — to eke out a proper livelihood,” he said.

Mishra said that the government would spare no effort in establishing coordination between vision and action, to fulfil the combined cherished dreams of Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya and Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar.

“Now, the time has come to involve maximum number of people — especially from the weaker sections of the society and women — with different KVIC welfare schemes,” he said and stressed upon maximising the reach of Khadi works to the remotest areas. (IANS)