Returnship is a professional internship designed for workers returning from an extended career break.
The concept has been for over a decade. However, returnships are trending again due to the surge of people re-entering the workforce after leaving their jobs during the early days of the pandemic (approximately 2 million women dropped out of US labor since the pandemic began).
A growing number of companies have also started to offer returnships as a way to attract additional talent.
For instance, Amazon announced that they plan to open 1,000 returnship positions.
Many businesses are following suit: there are currently 605 results on Glassdoor for returnship jobs.
Returnships are part of the Post-Pandemic Workforce meta trend.
Some examples of post-pandemic workforce changes include:
The rise in contingent workers. 32% of organizations are using contingent workers to replace their full-time workers as a way to reduce their costs.
Talent sharing is becoming more common. This refers to initiatives where businesses agree to share staff members that possess in-demand skills.
More HR departments are seeking fractional CMOs that work part-time for several different companies at once.
Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)
Question: What is a Returnship?
Answer: A returnship, also known as a return-to-work program, is essentially an internship that provides career opportunities for individuals who have taken time off from the workforce for any variety of reasons. While these individuals can be men or women, they are typically women who are experienced professionals and have taken a break from their careers to raise children or care for family members. A returnship is a structured program designed to help individuals who have taken a career break to re-enter the workforce. It offers a bridge for professionals, typically women who have temporarily paused their careers for caregiving responsibilities or other reasons, to update their skills, gain relevant work experience, and rebuild their professional networks. Returnships are often offered by companies looking to attract diverse talent and provide a supportive environment for individuals seeking to restart their careers.
Question: What is the purpose of a Returnship?
Answer: The purpose of a returnship is to provide an opportunity for individuals who have taken a break from their careers to re-enter the workforce. It is designed to help them refresh their skills and gain new ones while working on real projects.
Question: How does a returnship work?
Answer: A returnship typically follows a structured format, providing individuals with the opportunity to ease back into the workforce. The program duration can vary but is often several months long. Participants are assigned to specific projects or teams within the company, allowing them to gain hands-on experience and contribute to real work initiatives. Returnships may also include training sessions, mentorship opportunities, networking events, and workshops to help participants refresh their skills and build confidence. At the end of the program, there may be potential for participants to secure full-time employment with the company, although it is not guaranteed.
Question: Who is eligible for a Returnship?
Answer: Anyone who has taken a break from their career for any reason is eligible for a returnship. However, these programs are typically designed for experienced professionals who have been out of the workforce for at least two years. Returnships are typically open to individuals who have taken a career break for an extended period, such as stay-at-home parents, caregivers, or individuals who have pursued further education. The eligibility criteria can vary depending on the program and company offering the returnship. Generally, participants are expected to have prior professional experience and a desire to return to their respective fields. Some returnships may have specific requirements based on industry, skill set, or level of experience.
Question: What are the benefits of participating in a returnship?
Answer: The benefits of participating in a returnship program include gaining new skills and refreshing old ones, building your professional network, and potentially being offered full-time employment with the company. Participating in a returnship offers several benefits, including:
- Skill refreshment: Returnships provide an opportunity to update and refresh skills that may have become outdated during a career break. Participants can gain exposure to new technologies, industry trends, and work practices, helping them regain confidence in their abilities.
- Professional network expansion: Returnships facilitate networking with professionals within the company and industry. Building connections can lead to mentorship opportunities, job referrals, and access to a broader network, enhancing future career prospects.
- Hands-on experience: Returnships allow participants to gain valuable hands-on experience in a supportive and structured environment. They can contribute to real projects, enhance their problem-solving abilities, and demonstrate their value to potential employers.
- Confidence building: Returning to the workforce after a career break can be daunting. Returnships provide a supportive setting that helps participants rebuild their confidence, regain a sense of professional identity, and navigate workplace challenges.
- Potential employment opportunities: While not guaranteed, some returnships may lead to full-time employment offers at the end of the program. Participants who perform well, demonstrate their skills, and align with the company’s needs may be considered for permanent positions within the organization.
Question: How long do returnships typically last?
Answer: A returnship typically lasts between 10 and 20 weeks. During this time, participants work on real projects and receive training and mentorship. The duration of returnships can vary depending on the company and program structure. Generally, returnships last several months, ranging from three to six months. The length of the program allows participants to immerse themselves in work projects, gain sufficient experience, and demonstrate their abilities to potential employers. However, the specific duration may vary, and it is advisable to check the program details provided by the company offering the returnship.
Question: Are returnships only for women?
Answer: While returnships were initially targeted towards women returning to work after a career break, they are increasingly becoming inclusive of individuals of all genders. Many companies recognize the value of diverse talent and the benefits of supporting professionals who have taken career breaks, regardless of gender. As such, returnships may be open to individuals of any gender who meet the eligibility criteria and have the desire to re-enter the workforce after a break.
Question: Are Returnships paid?
Answer: Yes, returnships are paid positions. The pay varies depending on the company and the position.
Question: What happens after a Returnship?
Answer: After completing a returnship, participants may be offered full-time employment with the company. However, there is no guarantee of employment after the program ends.
Question: Do returnships guarantee permanent employment?
Answer: Returnships do not guarantee permanent employment. While some participants may secure full-time positions with the company offering the returnship, it ultimately depends on factors such as performance, alignment with company needs, and available openings. Returnships provide a platform for individuals to showcase their skills, gain experience, and explore potential employment opportunities. Even if a returnship does not lead to a permanent position, the experience gained and network expanded during the program can significantly benefit participants in their job search efforts.
Question: How can I find returnship opportunities?
Answer: Finding returnship opportunities can be done through various channels:
- Company websites: Many companies that offer returnship programs advertise them on their official websites. Check the careers or diversity and inclusion sections of company websites for information on returnship programs and application processes.
- Career returnship platforms: There are online platforms specifically dedicated to connecting individuals seeking returnships with companies offering such programs. These platforms serve as a centralized resource for finding returnship opportunities and provide additional support and resources for participants.
- Professional networks: Leverage your professional network to inquire about returnship programs or potential opportunities. Reach out to former colleagues, mentors, or contacts in your industry who may be aware of returnship initiatives.
- Job search websites: Regularly search popular job search websites using keywords like “returnship,” “return-to-work programs,” or “career re-entry programs.” Some job search platforms have filters or dedicated sections for returnship listings.
- Industry events and career fairs: Attend industry events, career fairs, and networking events where companies may promote their returnship programs or be open to discussing potential opportunities.
Question: How do I apply for a Returnship?
Answer: You can apply for a returnship by searching online job boards or by contacting companies directly. Many companies have specific programs in place for returners.
Question: What are some examples of companies that offer Returnships?
Answer: Some examples of companies that offer returnships include Amazon, Goldman Sachs, IBM, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Walmart.
Question: Are there any downsides to participating in a Returnship program?
Answer: One potential downside of participating in a returnship program is that there is no guarantee of full-time employment after the program ends. Additionally, some programs may not provide enough support or training for participants.
Question: Can I apply for a returnship in a different industry than my previous experience?
Answer: Returnships can be an opportunity to transition into a different industry or explore new career paths. While prior experience in the industry can be beneficial, companies offering returnships often value transferable skills, adaptability, and a willingness to learn. If you are interested in a returnship in a different industry, it’s important to highlight relevant transferable skills, showcase your motivation for the transition, and demonstrate how your previous experience can contribute to the new field. A well-crafted application, along with networking and researching the target industry, can increase your chances of being considered for a returnship in a different industry.