Thinking about doing a “returnship”? Please don’t.
Returnship is concept coined by Goldman Sachs back in 2008 to supposedly help ease the transition of high potentials back into the job market. These high potentials were mostly college-educated, career-oriented women who had taken time off from work to raise children. The idea was that Goldman would hire these women for a trial period and then offer full-time jobs to SOME of the women. The percentage hired approximates 50%. Only half.
Why would you do that to yourself?
Returnships take advantage of women who feel less confident after being at home for a few years.
According to Goldman Sach’s website:
The Returnship program is a unique way for the firm to develop talented individuals who, after an extended absence from the workforce, are seeking to re-start their careers. Comparable to an internship, the Returnship program is a ten-week preparatory program that leverages the skills of on-rampers in the process of transitioning back into the workforce. In the same way that an internship offers a guided period of exploration during which interns cultivate the skills that will serve them in future careers, our Returnship program provides on-ramping individuals with an opportunity to sharpen their skills in a work environment that may have changed significantly since their last experience as an employee.
My argument: A Returnship is NOT an internship. And individuals pursuing a returnship are VERY different than individuals pursuing an internship. Interns are usually college students who only WANT to work for 10 weeks. They only have a finite period. They know they are returning to school to continue their education. In fact, the internship is a part of their education. It is temporary. It is meant to be temporary. Individuals who are considering a returnship really want to work full time. They are not trying to job hop or build a resume. Their resume is already built. They are just re-starting or continuing. And – most importantly – individuals pursuing a returnship already HAVE the skills, education, competencies and leadership experience companies want. Don’t let the term “on-ramp” confuse you. Returnship people and interns are NOT the same in terms of career, education, experience, leadership or other competencies.
The Returnship program has been tailored to address many on-rampers’ concerns including their ability to transition into a new area of expertise and the perception that their extended absence from the workforce is an indication of reduced momentum or ability. In providing these individuals with an opportunity to strengthen their skills and demonstrate their capabilities, the program offers a window into the responsibilities and demands that may come with their new roles.
My argument: Companies like Goldman Sachs actually PLAY on this PERCEIVED lack of expertise or skills. They promote the low self-confidence some people feel after being out of the workforce and use it to their advantage. Under the guise of helping people get up to speed and allowing employees to “see if it is the right fit”, they get a no-risk trial and can fire you.
Conclusion: Every new employee has to earn his/her stripes. All new hires are still in the interview phase after they start a job. And all new hires have to get up to speed. There are always things to learn. Why put your self at a disadvantage and actually SUGGEST to your employer that you should be constantly scrutinized or that you might not be able to handle the job?
And if you aren’t hired full-time after the trial period is over, you need to start all over again. And explain to a new employer why you weren’t offered a full-time job.
Again, why would you do that to yourself?
Feeling less confident because you have been out of the workforce for a few years is normal. But don’t let an employer take advantage of your lack of confidence.
How to Return to Work
Instead, do the work to define the right career for you and target the right company.
1. Either conduct your own self-assessment or work with a counselor to assess your career path. This process alone will boost your confidence tenfold. You will have like you have direction and recognize that you are still quite capable with skills that are highly valued by employers.
2. Then take the time to create a blockbuster resume and practice interviewing. Resume creation gives you a phenomenal amount of direction and focus. Your confidence will skyrocket. Once you practice for the interview – and recognize that you are interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you – you are more likely to find the right fit.
Don’t let your years away from the workforce play on your self-confidence. Go after the right job, the first time. Show them you are the one DURING the interview. Going back to work is hard enough. Adding the stress of a “returnship” (and potentially being fired and having to look for another job) is unnecessary. You can do it. The first time.