Podcast #229 – Marc Interviews Tami Forman, Executive Director of Path Forward, on the State of Returnships
Path Forward is a nonprofit organization on a mission to empower people to restart their careers after time spent focused on caregiving. We fulfill this mission by working with companies to create and run mid-career internships — also known as “returnships” — that give professionals a jump start back to their careers while giving companies access to a diverse, untapped talent force.
I had Tami on the podcast way back in 2019 in episode #128. I wanted to bring Tami back to discuss how the Pandemic has affected their mission. Given that they primarily focus on caregivers who are mostly women and this recession has been called the “She-cession”, I thought it would be appropriate to get her perspective on the recovery from the pandemic.
Now on to the podcast…
Returnships are programs that are specifically aimed at people who are restarting their careers after taking time away from their careers for caregiving. By restarting, it means someone who had a professional career that spent approximately 5-10 years after college working professionally in their chosen field but then stepped away from the workforce in order to care for others. The ones the professionals left for could be their children, elder parents, or a sick relative, etc.
Returnships is not for someone who is starting a new career, internship, or learning a new career but only for someone who is returning to their career.
The Returnship positions are normally temporary positions and are 3-6 months in length. They are always paid positions.
A few companies do a direct-hire in their programs meaning they hire someone as a full-time employee; however, most are not set up this way. There is a multitude of different structures that can be used as well.
During the Pandemic
Path Forward struggled with being an organization that runs hiring programs when no one is hiring (due to a Pandemic). Everyone basically stopped hiring. It was such unchartered territory; however, by the Fall of 2020, there were starting to be signs that employers were deciding that they couldn’t just stop hiring altogether and that they needed to move forward.
From the sidelines, watching when careers got decimated was terrible especially since so many children were home and parents couldn’t go to work. In fact, parents of school-aged children were the highest group of parents that couldn’t work. Even more so than parents with infants.
After the Pandemic
The Pandemic is short enough that people should be able to get back to work and Returnships will be there for them. However, the people that were out of work for several years before the Pandemic may have a more difficult time returning.
The silver lining of the Pandemic is that it’s raised the awareness of those not working. There was skepticism that a mother that left the workforce to stay home with a child was not really about a choice – that they just wanted to stay home. Women that made these choices before the Pandemic were still there but now people could see what those problems were and it was really no choice at all.
Employers have also taken the programs virtually.
Companies (and employees) are starting to realize work can be done from home. The old notion that the only way someone can be productful is sitting in an office every day is now gone.
Now, some companies want employees to come back but the company has given up their leases so there’s nowhere to come back to or people don’t want to come back at all.
How to Find a Returnship
If people are interested in finding a Returnship, they can go to PathForward.org and sign up for their newsletter. Any time there is an opening, Path Forward will send an email with all the different options. They also try to list all companies that they know offer Returnships.
There has never been more information out there about Returnship possibilities.
Future of Path Forward
Employers are going to start seeing Returnships as another option just like college internships that originally was a new idea. Later internships because more regular and popular. Returnships are going to become more and more popular with companies as well.
Larger companies like Amazon, create Returnship programs for a large number of candidates – 1000 or more. However, even smaller companies create Returnship programs and can still be looking for 100 or more people to hire.
The possibilities are great.
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