Chris Hoffman had many relatable concerns about returning to work in Finance after taking a career break. She was worried that her skills might be outdated, that she wouldn’t fit in at a new company, and that finding a balance between work and family would be a struggle. Then, she discovered General Motor’s Take 2 career re-entry program.
The Take 2 program is designed to help transition experienced professionals back into their careers after an employment break of two or more years. A reflection of the General Motors “One Team” culture, Take 2 is focused on helping people who are returning to work feel comfortable and valued through flexible scheduling, training, mentoring and more
Hoffman says from the moment she spoke to Take 2 alumni at her interview, she felt assured and confident in her unique experience. We spoke to Chris, now a Senior Financial Analyst at GM, about her experience and why she is encouraging others to take the leap and re-enter the workforce:
How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
I was an intern in the General Motors Take 2 internship program in the Fall of 2018 and was hired into a full-time role after my internship. Prior to becoming part of the GM team, I took a two year career break to stay home with my two children. My professional experience includes 20 years in various financial roles in the automotive industry, as well as 4 years as a mutual fund accountant.
The Take 2 internship is one of the most memorable highlights of my career. It was such a unique, rewarding experience, and my uneasiness of returning to the workforce was put to rest within the first week. I had spent 18 years at my last company and wasn’t sure if I would fit in somewhere new. I may have been the new kid on the block, but I never felt it! The support from the GM team was amazing and exceeded my expectations. I felt like we were “One Team” from the first day.
Tell me a bit about your current role. What are your priorities?
I am a senior financial analyst. I support global transformation of operations by providing strategic business partners accurate and timely financial data and innovative solutions. I lead the financial activities for global functional leaders in the development and tracking of global budgets, forecasts and actual results.
What were the three most appealing aspects of this job/your company that led you to apply?
General Motors is a global leader in the rapidly changing transportation industry, and I wanted to be part of a company who is leading the charge.
The Take 2 program was very appealing because it is a career re-entry program, and I didn’t feel like I had to “explain” my career break choice. Knowing that the Take 2 program would provide technical training as well as mentoring and a peer network were other strong reasons why I chose to apply.
How did the hiring/interview process stand out to you as being a positive experience?
The moment I stepped into the interview reception area, I immediately received a warm welcome. I felt like they really wanted me to be there, which put me completely at ease. I was greeted by a couple Take 2 Alumni who shared their experiences with me. This interaction greatly reduced my nervousness. The interviewers were very professional, and I felt like I was able to showcase my skill set without having to explain why I decided to take a career break. We focused on my skills and experience.
Tell me a bit about your first day (or week). What kinds of things (whether formal onboarding programs or casual interactions) made you feel comfortable?
On my first day, I had an orientation where I was able to learn more about the history of General Motors and take a tour of the Renaissance Center World Headquarters in Detroit. Later in the week, our Take 2 Cohort had an all-day break out session where we heard from inspirational Take 2 Alumni and various GM employees.. The session was great, and it really boosted my confidence that I could be successful in the program.
I also participated in a functional (Finance) orientation, I was able to learn more about the roles in finance, as well as hear from financial leaders and be assigned an executive mentor. I felt GM did an extremely good job preparing me for my internship. I understood my role and expectations and was given the tools I needed to succeed. My mentor has been an especially great asset. She is a Take 2 Alumni and it was invaluable to connect with someone who had been through the program before. I felt like I could ask her anything.
Starting a new job can be overwhelming. What have you done or who have you gone to when you’ve had questions or needed help?
I learned early on that no question is a dumb question. If you have a question, just ask! I have gone to my manager, my director, my Take 2 colleagues and my peers with questions. If they didn’t have the answer, they were able to refer me to someone else who may have the answer.
What’s something you think most job seekers don’t know about your company that you think they should?
One of the main reasons I was hesitant to pursue the Take 2 program was that I wasn’t sure if I could be successful in the workforce and have work-life integration. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to put in extremely long hours at the office and worried about the perception that would create. In my current role, the work hours are manageable, and GM has the technology for us to collaborate in many ways which allows for more flexibility. Our team is supportive of each other and understand we all have lives to balance while making sure our work gets done.
In my opinion, if someone reading this has that same fear, I say just lean in and give it a try. You may be pleasantly surprised by how you can integrate a rewarding career into your life.
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