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How can women Explore!

How can women explore career options after a long break.

A few months back, I met three women – moms returning to work after many years. Preetha, Mrinalini and Sruthi, each had different stories, but when we first spoke, all of them said ‘family reasons’.  Preetha quit her job after her first child was born – she was not ready to leave her baby after the maternity leave of 6 months was up. Mrinalini followed her husband to the US when his company offered him the opportunity to work there for several years. Sruthi was able to continue working until her grandmother and mother both needed care.  Each of them had been away from the workplace for 5 to 10 years. Long breaks indeed!

When I asked them what they needed to get back to work, all of them said they were not confident that they could do it. They wanted to! But would they be able to? That was their fear.

That’s when I realized that soft skills are also critical to success for a returning woman in her professional life. Organization's like ours support returning women to develop these critical skills, through webinars and online workshops.
For moms returning to work after a break

Many companies have second career programmes. Job portals offer to connect returning women to potential employers. But the number of women returning to work through these mechanisms is low and this tells us that while these are necessary, they are not sufficient.

A long break from work leaves a woman cut off from her professional self – the avatar that she used to don every day when she entered the office. This break, we have realized, causes a huge loss of self-confidence. When she thinks back to her time as a working woman, it is as though it is a part of the distant past – like her college days. She struggles to see herself as a career woman once again.

There is inertia – “I’ll start tomorrow”. There is confusion – “where do I start?”. There are family members who (out of care and concern) ask “is it necessary to put yourself through this?”, which causes a loss of enthusiasm. There is no accountability – no one asking if a project (learning module in an online course) has been completed.

The program that we offer helps our members break the inertia. We’re with her to figure out where to start. And the realization that there are many other women who are in the same boat kindles energy and enthusiasm. And last but not the least, we follow up to build accountability.

The service we provide empowers women's to overcome their hesitation!

These soft-skills become the foundation on which the hard, subject skills – job-specific skills and competencies are built.

We start with a webinar that describes our method of returning to work. Over the course of a few weeks, we share our learning and experience and what maybe the most elusive skill – how to answer sensitive questions about the reason for their career break.

For each participant, one or more topics create an ‘Aha’ moment. 

For Preetha, it was learning to craft her résumé, which helped her realise that her work experience was pretty extensive and still relevant. For Mrinalini, it was “Learning to Learn” and for Sruthi, it was hearing about the growth mindset.

Each of them independently used the word “transformational” to describe the impact of the webinars. They experienced a shift in mindset and in their view of themselves and their ability to restart their professional lives.

The sessions gave them the know-how to start their journeys, confident that indePenn will support them as they make their way towards realizing their potential.

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