If you’ve been away from work for a while, the ideal opportunity to re-enter the workforce or re-launch your career may be something you’ve never heard of: a returnship. Returnships are employment opportunities designed for experienced professionals who have been away for a while and who are looking to re-up, re-skill and transition back into the workforce. They’re like internships but for those who have already had careers.
You may have been away because of parenting responsibilities. Many moms stepped back from regular full-time or part-time employment over the last few years—and are now ready to return. But you may also have been absent from the workforce because of injury, incarceration or extended layoff.
No matter what the reason for your pause, if you want to gear up to reenter the workforce a returnship could be your perfect pathway.
Choosing to Return
While work can be—well—a lot of work, it is also a terrific source of meaning and esteem as you contribute to your community and express your talents. Work also gives you a venue to make friends and create relationships with colleagues. And work gives you a reason to get out of the house (read: enhance the boundary between work and life) and to motivate and structure the activities in your day.
As a matter of fact, work contributes to all kinds of wellbeing for these reasons. And fully 94% of people say returnships can improve mental health and 97% say they can increase confidence, according to a new poll by Skynova.
But diving in full time can be scary. People worry they won’t be able to adjust to work routines or keep up with the pace. They also feel unsure about being judged or suffering from imposter syndrome, according to the poll.
Returnships can offer advantages in a smooth transition though. Specifically, people report they seek returnships for the paycheck (68%), to update their skills (48%) and for a supportive environment (39%).
Embrace the Opportunity
Returnships are more prevalent than you might think. They are most prevelant in the fields of technology, digital marketing, healthcare, government, education, retail, finance, food and hospitality, according to the Skynova poll. And they’re available at a variety of companies from Accenture and Amazon to Microsoft and Morgan Stanley.
If you’re seeking a returnship so you can build your skills, the capabilities which you’ll be most able to develop—according to the Skynova data—are web development, cybersecurity, programming, data analysis, digital marketing, problem solving, communication, listening, teamwork and time management.
In general, you can also expect to be paid for your returnship. When people seek this type of role, 76% say pay is a key criterion in addition to 40% who say insurance matters as well. Only 7% of people could afford to do a returnship as an unpaid opportunity.
Seek Learning, Learning and More Learning
One of the biggest reasons to seek a returnship is for development and learning. According to the poll, 61% prioritize opportunities to learn new skills in selecting a returnship, while 39% look for mentorship and 33% consider the quality of the onboarding experience.
Look for companies that offer both structured and unstructured learning opportunities—classroom, formal, mentorship, team-based or on-the-job moments in which you can grow and develop. When a company is willing to invest in your present skills and your future contribution, these are signals of an organization which can support your transition back, but also with whom you might want to make a career.
Another primary reason to pursue a returnship is for the colleagues you’ll meet and the collegial environment you can be part of. People today are struggling mightily with loneliness, but work can be a source of connectedness and the wellbeing that results. The majority of people (75%) say they make their friends at work.
But even if you aren’t looking for a BFF, the social side of work is tremendously rewarding—feeling like you matter within a community and having the opportunity to give and get support from those around you. According to the data, 30% of people select a returnship based on the social interactions it will offer.
In addition, 29% plan to take advantage of the networking it provides—which is wise for tapping into future opportunities and contacts who can help with your career journey.
As you’re interviewing and assessing returnships, pay attention to the people you interact with and choose a community that you want to be part of.
Accelerate the Transition
Returnships are designed for transitioning back into work, so it makes sense that 34% of people look for returnships which make the transition comfortable. In addition, 47% of people assess whether the company will offer full-time employment down the road, and 23% look for career advancement. Overall, the structure of work is helpful to 22% as they refashion life around a regular work schedule.
Consider retrunships at companies that have structured programs which have been designed to help you adjust, adapt, connect and learn—and which are paying attention to your experience immediately and as you continue your employment with them over time.
Embrace Your Progress
Overall, work offers huge benefits in terms of providing meaning, offering the opportunity to express skills and be part of a community. And returnships are a great solution for making a smooth transition and paving the way for career progression.