Powering Your Potential: An Innovative Returnship Program Paves the Way for Families

Sponsored by Cummins

Debra Griffin

Photo courtesy of Cummins.

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July 21, 2024 at 6:46AM UTC

How did Debra Griffin become the Senior Industrial Engineer of Global Manufacturing Engineering at Cummins, a Fortune 150 global power technology leader? 

Well, her path, like many of ours, was not a straight line. “My career journey started with Cummins as a manufacturing engineer at the Columbus Engine Plant (CEP) after graduating from college in 1987,” shares Griffin. After this, she worked as a team manager for shop operations, as well as for the materials planning team. “These roles were all very demanding, challenging and  rewarding,” shares Griffin. “Managing union associates was new and a great learning experience.”

Griffin ended up taking a break from the workforce when her daughter was one-year old to be a stay-at-home mom. “I also fulfilled a desire to become an entrepreneur during this time away from the workforce,” she shares. Eventually, however, Griffin found that she wanted to return to a full-time job.

The catalyst that prompted Griffin to return to the workforce was the need for a challenge, which she acted on when her daughter was a senior in high school. And, the place she found this professional challenge was none other than her former employer, Cummins. 

Cummins provided a path to return to the workforce for Griffin with their Cummins Inc. RePower Program, which she says had a very user-friendly application process. Today, Griffin is flourishing at Cummins and is “working on some very exciting projects,” she tells us.

Are you also looking to make a change in your career path and return to the workforce like Griffin did? Here, Griffin shares more insight into the returnship program that relaunched her career — and why you should consider joining it, too!

In your own words, could you describe this returnship program to us?

The Cummins Inc. returnship program values the skills and experiences that individuals have learned while away from the workforce, possibly working from home or in a different field or career. The program allows you to return to the workforce for six months as a full-time employee, almost as a “trial” period to determine if you are a fit for the company and/or if the company is a fit for the individual. 

What were your favorite parts of the program? 

My favorite parts of the program were the networking events and getting to know others that have been through the program. Realizing that there was a support group that has been through this program was extremely helpful. Getting to know the requirements, expectations and the team during this six month period was also a plus.

During the program, I definitely gained new professional connections, friends and mentors. Some of the connections I made will be lifelong friends.

How did this returnship program help you succeed in your transition back to a full-time position? 

The transition was certainly challenging after being away from the workforce for many years; however, being a part of an extremely supportive team, as well as the support and networking opportunities from the RePower program, made this transition less daunting and helped prepare me to return to the workplace after my time away

Due to the returnship program, I was clear on my role and the expectations and able to work on projects with increasing difficulty and complexity. I also feel that, during this time, I was able to engage with my teammates and, honestly, boost my confidence. 

The RePower program certainly helped me transition to a full-time position.

Would you recommend the RePower program to others? 

Yes, absolutely. This opportunity gave me an experience that re-ignited my passion for Industrial Engineering. The program is an awesome path to your future accomplishments. I am grateful to work for a company that values employees’ skills and experiences, even after being away for a period of time. 

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