The STEM Reentry Task Force, the groundbreaking career reentry initiative co-led by the Society of Women Engineers and iRelaunch is now responsible for hundreds of returning technical professionals resuming careers after career breaks. The powerful alliance, including global companies across sectors ranging from automotive to defense to environmental to technology, has entered its fourth year as Apple, CDM Smith, Honeywell, Ingersoll Rand and The Procter & Gamble Company join as new members and past members continue to grow their programs.
Each Task Force member company creates its own return to work program focused on relaunching engineers and technologists, usually involving a mid-career internship. The programs, created specifically for professionals with experience who have gaps on their resumes, can run for eight weeks to six months and are structured similarly to entry-level university internships, except with roles and programming appropriate for mid- to senior level professionals. Participants are returning to work after career breaks for childcare, eldercare, pursuing a personal interest, a personal health issue, or after experiences such as running for political office, entrepreneurial ventures or military service. Note men are eligible to apply for and participate in Task Force programs.
The Center for Talent Innovation’s research shows that while 93 percent of off-ramped women want to resume their careers, only 74 percent manage to get any kind of job at all and just 40 percent successfully return to work full-time. The STEM Reentry Task Force aims to bridge the gap between these women (and men) and organizations looking for qualified talent.
“There’s a hidden talent pool in women returning to work after a break, but those resumes are often overlooked due to large gaps in employment,” said Karen Horting, CEO and executive director of SWE. “The STEM Reentry Task Force addresses this by creating an avenue for those women to re-introduce themselves into the workforce, and for organizations to reach a larger candidate pool for leadership positions.”
“There’s a hidden talent pool in women returning to work after a break, but those resumes are often overlooked due to large gaps in employment. The STEM Reentry Task Force addresses this by creating an avenue for those women to re-introduce themselves into the workforce, and for organizations to reach a larger candidate pool for leadership positions.”
Employers may be concerned that professionals returning from career breaks are technologically obsolete or face a prolonged ramping-up period. Mid-career internship programs are an effective way to address these concerns as they provide a testing out period, and also an opportunity to provide mentorship, professional development and support as the participants transition back to work. Even more important, mid-career internships allow the employer to base the hiring decision on an actual work sample instead of a series of interviews. At the same time, they give participants an opportunity to return to work together with a cohort of similarly situated “relaunchers.”
“Our model in which each company creates its own unique program, determining parameters of length, location, time of year, size of cohort and pace of expansion that match specifically with their needs, has proven to be especially effective for the global organizations that make up our membership. The guidance, subject matter expertise, and community reach from SWE and iRelaunch, along with the platform provided for peer program managers to collaborate while building their programs in the same time frame have been a winning combination,” said Carol Fishman Cohen, co-founder of career reentry firm, iRelaunch.
“The guidance, subject matter expertise, and community reach from SWE and iRelaunch, along with the platform provided for peer program managers to collaborate while building their programs in the same time frame have been a winning combination.”
Task Force 2016 founding members include Booz Allen Hamilton, Caterpillar, Cummins, General Motors, IBM, Intel and Johnson Controls. In 2017, Ford Motor Company, GE Power, Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic, Northrop Grumman, Schneider Electric and United Technologies joined, and The Aerospace Corporation, Asurion, Boeing, Dell, Millipore Sigma and Raytheon joined in 2018.
Nearly 400 mid-career professionals have participated in Task Force programs since inception, with 85 percent hired upon completion of their program. Past member companies continue to expand their programs to include functional areas outside of technical roles, as well as expansion domestically, internationally and across business lines.
If you are an employer interested in supporting women in STEM and becoming a future member of the STEM Reentry Task Force, email email@example.com.
Download the whitepaper, “An Intervention Strategy to Re-engage Women Engineers in the Workplace” to learn more about the value proposition of a reentry program, the unique advantages received through participation in the program, and best practices for implementing the solution in technical organizations, based on the success of the first program.
For more information about the STEM Reentry Task Force, visit http://reentry.swe.org.
The Society of Women Engineers (SWE), founded in 1950, is the world’s largest advocate and catalyst for change for women in engineering and technology. The not-for-profit educational and service organization is the driving force that establishes engineering as a highly desirable career aspiration for women. To ensure SWE members reach their full potential as engineers and leaders, the Society offers unique opportunities to network, provides professional development, shapes public policy and provides recognition for the life-changing contributions and achievements of women engineers. As a champion of diversity, SWE empowers women to succeed and advance in their personal and professional lives. For more information about the Society, please visit www.swe.org or call 312.596.5223.
As the pioneering company in the career reentry space, iRelaunch works with over 70 blue chip companies to build and expand career reentry programs, and leads a national community of over 70,000 “relaunchers” in all stages of career reentry. iRelaunch provides a wealth of resources for professionals returning to work after a career break, ranging from the award-winning 3,2,1 iRelaunch! podcast, to the comprehensive, self-paced Roadmap return to work on-line guidebook. iRelaunch’s 2019 Return to Work Conference is the longest running and largest dedicated career reentry event in the U.S., with nearly 7,500 people attending 24 Conferences to date. In aggregate, iRelaunch’s over 400 programs and presentations have reached more than 50,000 people since inception. This does not include iRelaunch Chair and Co-founder’s popular TED talk “How to get back to work after a career break” which has nearly 2 million views and has been translated into 30 languages.