Women returning to work after an extended absence is no easy feat. With the additional complications that the global pandemic has caused, women are finding returning to their professional lives harder than ever. Concern over the negative impact of their career break and how it will appear to potential employers plagues many women’s minds when returning to work.
However, with the demand for highly-skilled workers ever-increasing, hiring women who left work to care for children or family members is no longer a token gesture but a business imperative. That’s where the Women Returners Program comes into play. A program funded by Skills Development Scotland to assist women who have been out of work for six months or more looking to restart their career journey.
As the official training provider delivering the program, this week, Virtual Internships is proud to celebrate the culmination of the very first cohort of the Women Returners Program.
Following three fast-paced years of curating 1000+ remote internships and student support, the team from Virtual Internships used their network and experience to:
- Match the Women Returners with entrepreneurial host companies;
- Support them with professional coaching;
- Gather a like-minded community for participants to bounce ideas off;
- Provide inspiring encouragement from women that have successfully returned to the workforce themselves.
A Holistic Approach to Bring Women Returners Back Up to Speed
Coming at the issue from all angles, the program provided a holistic approach for a group of women, some of whom felt as if the world had moved on while they were busy raising families and caretaking for others (or just isolating themselves from COVID-19).
The digital universe advances at such lightning speed that it’s easy for anyone to feel out of touch, let alone a person who is not online daily or au fait with whatever Google, Microsoft, or Adobe have served up recently! Women Returners often feel their skills are not up to speed, or they just no longer understand what the workplace of the 2020s is like. These, and other life situations can add up to a lack of confidence in engaging with their professional lives.
For these reasons, the comprehensive programming brought in both practical and intangible aspects to provide rounded and meaningful assistance.
The Women Returners Program Breakdown
- Project Management Skills: What it takes to be organized, supportive, directive, and collaborative at work.
- Presentation Skills: How to approach the architecture of a good presentation and how best to go about making an impact with it.
- Personal Brand: How to build a unique brand and stand out positively from others.
- CV Creation: How to write from scratch with career advisors, and work with peer-to-peer groups to revise and perfect.
- Interview Skills: Demonstration, advice, and peer-to-peer practice to hone techniques that are essential when (re)entering the workforce.
- Success Later in Life: The Women Returners heard from a series of successful women with lived experience; not lifetime career women, but rather examples of those that had built success later in life.
- Overcoming Barriers in Minority Groups: A further session explored advice on overcoming barriers encountered by certain minority groups with regards to returning to work. The session also explored how to succeed when working remotely, which was a relatively new concept for almost all participants.
Access to Real-World Companies
- Company Growth: Participants learned about growing a company from the ground up.
- Project Management and Problem-Solving: They undertook projects to help solve current problems within the host companies, employing their recently acquired project management skills.
- Presentations to Founders: They formally presented their findings and solutions in presentations to the company founders, with their peers and Virtual Internships coaches in the audience. Huge thanks and accolades were given from all host company representatives, who particularly valued the fresh ideas and dynamic delivery of the participants.
- The Women Returners received personalized support through a one-on-one call facilitated by a trained coach.
- During this call, the Women Returners reflected on their program experience, their key takeaways, and the next steps to take after the program.
- The Women Returners also created a high-level success plan with concrete actions to implement in the upcoming weeks and received useful resources to guide them through this process.
Two Great Host Companies
The success of a program like this requires the buy-in and active participation of both the Virtual Internships team and the Women Returners themselves. However, it is nothing without the attentive and sustained interest and participation of the Host Companies who were generous with their time, expertise, and advice. We would like to express deep gratitude to our first Women Returners Host Companies:
Leaf is a tech e-commerce advertising business. Their projects included program participants working on improving sustainability aspects of the company and also helping Leaf on the pathway to becoming B-Corp certified. You can read what Leaf thought about the partnership here.
“Working with Leaf was a tremendously valuable experience; consulting and presenting sustainable solutions for social and environmental impacts on a global scale. I have really appreciated working independently as well as working virtually with a fantastic team on a range of multimedia platforms.” – Sabina Philip, Women Returner
Founder: James Hennesy
ColaFizz is a global platform offering easy access to co-working and private rooms in flexible workspaces, hotels, gyms, and airport lounges. The Women Returners worked on researching ideal customer profiles, initial outreach, and marketing plans for hotdesk and co-working solutions.
FUTURE SUCCESS: We have heard on the grapevine that at least one of our participants is currently in the running for full-time employment with their host company!
Women Returner or Host Company? Find Out More About Joining Our Program!
Are you interested in joining the program? Check out our Women Returners page for available future programs and information on how to enroll.
Are you interested in being a host company and supporting the return of brilliant women to the workforce? Send an email to: [email protected] to tell us about your company and how a few motivated remote interns can help accelerate your growth!