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More Options for Returning Workers

How does a mom who has been staying at home 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.”

Returnships are internships that target men and women who have not been working, either because they have been raising children or caregiving. These returnships give 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.

For companies, returnships are an opportunity to find 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 organize 16-week, paid assignments for people who have been away from the labor market for two or more years because of caregiving.

Women in particular have been struggling to explain the gap in their CVs when they are re-entering the workforce. Employment is harder to find.

“They often get discouraging feedback from companies and management. They believe that they’ll never be hired,” said Tami Forman, the executive director of Path Forward. The organization says it gets results — 40 out of the 50 women who have completed the program were offered full-time employment at the companies where they interned.

Path Forward joins with tech companies that range in size from 30-person startups to big organizations such as PayPal, which has more than 10,000 employees.

Adapted from “For Moms Heading Back to Work, ‘Returnships’ Offer a Path Forward” published by VOA News on August 19, 2017 by Trina Trinh.