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When I had my first child, I had a difficult decision to make: Do I stay home with my child, or do I put them in daycare while I work? Staying home sounded nice, but my family needed the income from both myself and my husband — especially with a newborn on the way. However, missing some of those crucial first moments with my child made me incredibly sad. What if I missed their first steps or their first words?
With the support of my loving husband, I decided to make my own way and work from home while raising a child. It was not easy, but I was determined to make it work. We made many sacrifices, but I count them all worth it. But unfortunately, many other women choose to step away from the workforce completely, not knowing what options are available.
Once the kids are grown and able to take care of themselves, that leaves many women wanting to return to their careers. A great way to do this is through a returnship — something that was not an option when I had my first child.
Understanding what a returnship is
A returnship is a unique opportunity designed for individuals who have taken a break from their careers and are looking to re-enter the workforce. It combines aspects of an internship and a full-time job, offering valuable work experience and a chance to update skills in a supportive environment. Unlike traditional internships, returnships are tailored for professionals with prior experience, allowing them to showcase their talents and bridge the gap in their resumes.
A returnship is for anyone who took a career break, but this arrangement can be particularly beneficial for busy moms who have taken time off to raise their children and are now ready to jump back into their careers. You can showcase all your previous experience, but you can also showcase what you’ve learned from being a mom which can include prioritizing, meeting deadlines and staying organized.
The pros and cons of a returnship for working mothers
Returnships can offer many benefits for working mothers looking to re-enter the workforce. On the positive side, a returnship provides a structured and supportive environment to refresh and update skills that may have been dormant during a career break. It allows moms to gain relevant work experience, build new connections and showcase their talents to potential employers.
Returnships also offer a chance to ease back into the professional world, providing a smoother transition from being a stay-at-home mom to a working professional. However, there can be downsides, too. Returnships may come with lower pay or limited opportunities for career advancement compared to regular positions; remember, at the end of the day, these are essentially internships and are treated as such. However, they provide a wonderful way for you to dip your toe back into the workforce, so to speak.
Related: Make Yours a Mom-friendly Business
Preparing yourself for a successful returnship
Returning to the workforce after a career break can be both exciting and daunting, especially for busy moms. To ensure a successful returnship experience, it’s important to take some steps to prepare yourself. Working exclusively with moms, I can offer a few key words of advice if you are preparing to apply for a returnship.
First, update your skills and knowledge by enrolling in relevant courses or workshops. Take advantage of online resources and professional development opportunities to stay current in your industry. I understand that you may have a tight budget — there are many great resources online that are free through big names you already know about like YouTube and LinkedIn. Find what works best for you on your schedule.
Next, revamp your résumé and online presence to highlight your experience and skills. Tailor your résumé to fit the requirements of the returnship program or position you’re interested in; this needs to be done for each position for which you apply. For example, if you apply for a marketing position, highlight relevant skills such as meeting deadlines. Then if you also apply for an accounting position, highlight skills such as attention to detail.
It never hurts to research the company offering the job and include some information in your application materials about them — this shows you are serious and spent time finding more details about the business. Additionally, in the age of social media, many companies will check your socials during the interview process. Take some time to update them and look at them through a professional lens.
Lastly, practice your interviewing skills and prepare thoughtful responses to common interview questions. You can find some of the most popular questions online with a quick search. Ask a family member or friend for help and have them stand in as the interviewer so you can practice with a real person. Remember to maintain eye contact. Be truthful about your experience; it is okay if you do not know the answer to a question! Just let the interviewer know you are not sure, but bring the question back to your relevant skills for the position.
If you are a busy mom looking to transition back into the workforce, then a returnship can be the perfect solution for you. They allow you to gain relevant skills, polish up some old ones and get you on the path back to a full-time career.