I started my career full of ambition and drive. I worked for an amazing up-and-coming company. I had a ton of opportunities to branch out and try new things. I diverged from my original career path and started testing software. The company was growing, as was my career. My first child fit right into my work schedule. I felt like I could do it all. It was challenging to work and be a mom, but I loved both jobs so much. Then I had twins, and then shortly after, a fourth baby. The rigors of motherhood outweighed my love for my job, and I became a stay-at-home mom. For a while, I was able to stay relevant in my field, but even that was challenging, and before long, work was not a priority. I loved being home with my children. I felt so fortunate to be able to make that choice.
When my youngest started school full-time, I considered going back to work. I looked around, called the few people I was still in contact with from my previous field and applied for a few jobs. It wasn’t meant to be. There was a gap on my resume. I considered going back to school, I considered a career change. Things went full circle and ultimately, I remained a stay-at-home mom.
Fast forward and my youngest was approaching her teen years, and I had plenty of free time on my hands while they were at school. I was ready to be part of a fast-growing team that would push my boundaries and appreciate my skills. Those jobs were a dime a dozen when I left work. Recruiters were constantly looking to find me a position. All those jobs still had to be available, right? I was ready to fill one! What I learned as a parent far exceeded the skill degradation I had during that gap, at least that’s what I thought.
I applied for some jobs, but with no recent job references and with a large career gap, I clearly wasn’t at the top of any list. How can a couple years off make you become so unattractive to the job market? (Let’s be honest: it was more than a couple.) The sad reality is that if you take off as little as a year or two to care for an ailing loved one or take an extended babymoon, you will wake up to find yourself with the dreaded gap, resume poisoned, unable to find its way out of the trash can. The recruiters who called monthly wouldn’t engage with me anymore. What irony that if you have a job there are a million options, but if you are looking, no one is looking back. I looked into more education. I looked into jobs with the school district. Sadly, the school district was the only employer who would even consider my resume, not because of my work experience, but because they saw my face nearly every day, tirelessly volunteering without pay. They knew I would be a good employee. Neither of those ideas excited me. I really wanted an exciting career like the one I left behind.
Then I heard about Anonyome’s “returnship” program. Wow, a program that was designed for people who had stepped away from their careers to care for family! A company that realizes that putting family first doesn’t mean I’ll be a trouble-making, lazy employee (or whatever stereotype makes finding a position when you have a gap so difficult). I applied and interviewed. I wasn’t asked for references. I was given a chance to work again! The program started with a 3-month internship-like program. It gave me the chance to see if I really wanted to go back to work, and it gave them the chance to see my skills, attitude, and value. Win-win!
Cristal Kelshaw knew the value of returning parents and started the program. There were three people brought in for the returnship program. We worked, and we learned new software and new techniques in our fields. We were all confident adults who wanted to be working and knew what it took to be a valuable employee. Guest speakers came in and taught us how to up our visibility in the job market and how to write a resume that gets attention. At the end of the program, my resume looked good. It still had a gap, but that wasn’t the highlight anymore. I had a professional online presence. I had references. In the end I didn’t need those, because I was able to stay on with Anonyome. They gave me back my much-loved career and they got a valuable, loyal employee in return. Most of the amazing parents I know who have left their careers to raise children never go back to their original line of work. I truly wonder if everyone had a returnship opportunity, would that change? And of course if you or someone you know has technology experience and is looking to get back into the corporate world after a break, tell them to check out the Returnship opportunities at Anonyome here.