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Podcast: SWE and iRelaunch STEM Re-entry Program

FY19 SWE President Penny Wirsing joins Carol Fishman Cohen, Chair and Co-founder of iRelaunch, to talk about the SWE iRelaunch STEM Re-entry Program.
Podcast: Swe And Irelaunch Stem Re-entry Program

Welcome to Diverse: the podcast of the Society of Women Engineers. SWE supports the advancement of women in engineering and technology. You can find all of our podcasts on SoundCloud and iTunes.

Hi, I’m Penny Wirsing, FY19 President of the Society of Women Engineers.

Joining me now is Carol Fishman Cohen. She is the Chair and Co-founder of the career re-entry firm iRelaunch. SWE partnered with iRelaunch to create our STEM Re-entry Program that helps technical professionals get back to work after a career break.

Thanks for joining us, Carol.

You have an interesting story: You took a career break and returned to work. You did a Ted Talk about your experience and wrote the Harvard Business Review article “The 40 Year-Old Intern.” Tell us more about your background and career.

In 2015, SWE and iRelaunch began the STEM Reentry Task Force with 7 companies from SWE’s Corporate Partnership Council. The founding organizations are: Booz Allen Hamilton, Caterpillar, Cummins, General Motors, IBM, Intel, and Johnson Controls. Now more organizations have joined the task force. Have engineering and technology firms embraced the idea of reentry programs for technical professionals?

The economy is good right now. The demand for engineers is high. Why do technical professsionals find it difficult to go back to work after taking a few years off to raise children or take care of a sick parent?

By the end of this year over 300 women…and men…will have gone through STEM Reentry Task Force Programs, and many of them have been hired for full-time positions. Can you give us more detail on the hiring rates and also share some stories of individuals in these programs?

Each of the companies that are part of the task force has its own program with a unique name and structure. Each class of reentry workers is called a cohort and some organizations have had a few cohorts now. Are they scaling up to hire more returning professionals?

In 2017, seven more organizations joined the Task Force: Ford, GE Power, Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic, Northrop Grumman, Schneider Electric and United Technologies. And then in 2018, six additional companies joined: The Aerospace Corporation, Asurion, Boeing, Dell, Millipore Sigman and Raytheon, bringing the total # of task force companies to TWENTY. Can new companies  still join?

For companies looking for more information you can look at the task force site and email For technical professionals wanting to return to work, go to our website:

Carol Fishman Cohen is the Chair and co-founder of the career re-entry firm iRelaunch.

Carol, thank you so much for joining us.

I’m Penny Wirsing, for all of us as SWE, thanks for listening.


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