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BY Fairygodboss

This Company Is Doing Amazing Things to Help Caregivers Return to STEM Careers

By Fairygodboss

Woman in STEM

Photo credit: AdobeStock/agnormark

Given the rapid rate at which technology sheds its skin to reveal new, yet-more innovative layers, it’s understandable that caregivers may feel intimidated to re-enter this field after taking a career break. 

Here to make that transition easier is United Technologies Corporation (UTC). The global Fortune 50 Company, in partnership with iRelaunch and the Society of Women Engineers, is rolling out a new initiative called the UTC Re-Empower Program. The program is designed to help experienced professionals who have been out of the workforce for two or more years return to their career. Offering coaching, mentorship, and relevant work experience, participants in this paid, 16-week program will have the opportunity to reignite their careers in a supportive environment, beginning with the first cohort in January 2018.

As Re-Empower’s program lead Shanda Hinton pointed out, that sense of support is crucial if one of the biggest gaps created by career breaks is going to be closed. And it’s not necessarily the type of gap many would assume.

“There may be a skills gap, but there also may not — we don’t want to automatically make that assumption,” Hinton said. “The most prevalent gap may simply be an ability to tell their story, since these individuals are thinking they may have lost some of those technical skills or soft skills, and so we want to really address that up front.”

“The idea that women and men who temporarily leave the workforce in order to provide care for loved ones — whether they be children or relatives who are sick or in the military — lose relevancy is a false one,” Hinton continued.

“People who take a career break oftentimes are staying in their discipline in other ways,” she explained. “That career break may have fostered a new skill that enhanced their previous experience, whether it’s through travel, part-time consulting engagements or new certifications. I’ve heard of women taking career breaks and starting an online app during that time or engaging in volunteerism. So when they return to the workforce, it adds even more value.”

Within the program, technical and culture mentors will be assigned to Re-Empower participants in order to help them feel supported, and virtual learning opportunities will be made available. Additionally, UTC is taking a cohort approach so program participants will be able to find support in each other. Even better? Participants have the potential to become each other’s coworkers in a more permanent way, too.

Kristine Salerno, who is leading the program’s recruiting efforts, explained: “We’re not looking to create a temporary, project-based assignment. If it’s a temporary assignment, sort of similar to an internship, you have to determine at the end of the assignment whether there’s a place for that person in the company.”

Instead, UTC is designing the Re-Empower openings to reflect true positions at the company, including engineering roles in software, data analytics, and systems integration. Meaning? The role participants fill during the 16-week program could transition directly into a full-time position.

“We want to be able to quickly turn the key and hire participants into a full-time role,” Salerno said. “We don’t want to have to go looking for a position if, it’s a good fit for the company and a good fit for that hire.”

That’s just one of the ways UTC emphasizes taking a mindful approach when it comes to talent.

“This program is open to all, but from a caregiver’s perspective, the work that we’re doing around flexible schedules across the organization, is really exciting,” Hinton said. “It’s a dynamic, supportive environment, especially for women. I’ve never been part of an organization before that is so supporting of both the professional and personal needs of its employees.”

Are you an experienced professional looking to re-enter the workforce after a career break? Check out UTC’s openings — there’s tons of ‘em!

To learn even more about the Re-Empower Program, register now to join an upcoming, virtual recruitment event on Monday, October 23, 2017 at 4:00pm EST. Register for the webinar here using the password "powertofly.”

Interested in UTC Re-Empower Program opportunities but you don’t have a STEM background? Join UTC’s Talent Community to keep abreast of future opportunities in the program: UTC Re-Empower Program Talent Community.

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