GM is one of seven founding members of the STEM Re-entry Task Force, a group of engineering companies that committed to piloting an internship program for women returning to work after a career break.
When the executive team at GM heard about the STEM Re-entry Task Force program, they welcomed the opportunity with open arms.
“We had already been trying to find more women talent and provide more opportunities for engineers. This program tapped into this talent pool so it was an automatic yes for us,” said Adela Vinot, SWE member and program manager at GM.
Adela is the program manager for GM’s career re-entry program, Take 2. She is charged with designing and executing the program across the company and ensuring that each function or region’s processes are standard (i.e. branding, marketing, recruiting, training, development, networking). “This was a first for us – internships for adults,” she explained. “I thought it was great.”
GM, the first company in the automotive industry to execute a program such as this, had over 400 applications in just one week of opening the opportunity to the public. Many women who applied were excited about the opportunity to receive training after being out of the ever-evolving engineering industry for more than 20 years.
After the first Take 2 program, GM converted 82 percent of the interns, and opened up a second program in 2016. A third program is operating now in 2017, with a fourth to open in fall. Because of the success, the company is making a move to expand the program to other functional departments and regions at GM. New programs launched or launching in 2017 include finance, manufacturing, customer care and sales, and now Canada. The company is also looking to expand in other global locations in 2018.
GM was fortunate to have a leadership team that thought the STEM Re-entry Task Force was a great idea – a lot of organizations struggle to get buy-in for similar programs. One of the ways to get buy-in is to look at the benefits other organizations have experienced. GM has seen an internal employee morale boost since launching the program. “Employees are proud to work for a company offering opportunities for working mothers,” explained Adela.
This spirit has even transferred to potential candidates. “Some of our on-campus recruiters have told me that students love the idea that, should they decide to ever take a career break, there is the opportunity to come back,” said Adela.
If thinking about launching a similar program, Adela recommends you have an executive champion and a program manager. “You have to start with executive support to get the function and managers engaged. Once that’s established, you need someone to actually own the program, and preferably someone who has already been with the organization and has a large network,” she explains. “If I didn’t already have a lot of contacts in our development, HR, legal and policy spaces internally, it would have been difficult to know who to talk to in order to implement these things.”
Information about 2018 GM Take 2 opportunities will be posted in December.