A New Way to Return to Work: Spotlight on Returnee Viviana Bhandari

Name: Viviana Bhandari

Company and position title: Demandbase, software engineer.

What did you do before taking a break? I was living in Costa Rica where I worked as a customer service rep for call centers for different companies. I moved to the US for my husband’s career and I wasn’t able to get a work visa right away so I used the time to finish my degree.

How many years of experience did you have before your break? 7 years

How long were you out of the workforce? 2 years

Had you taken any classes or done any training in preparation for going back to work? I was doing training on my own through meetups for different coding languages and taking paid and free online tutorials to learn more about engineering.

Describe your role at Demandbase: I contribute to the development, testing, and debugging of an account based marketing cloud solution application based on Ruby on Rails with a mountable Rails engines approach, Swagger API documentation, and a React/Redux front end. I also write Unit tests for backend, tests with RSpec, Unit tests for frontend, and tests with Jest testing framework.

What skills from your previous experience do you use in your new position? I would say the most relevant skill is team work. My previous job required that I work with other people and help solve customer issues, and my position at Demandbase also requires me to work with people across departments to improve and create features that are customer-friendly.

What has been one of the more challenging parts of returning to work? It was a challenge to find a work-life balance when I first started. I was getting so into work that I would go home and keep working instead of taking time for myself. It’s also been challenging staying up to date with all the programming languages. Since I didn’t study that in school I have to work extra hard. It’s like learning a new language and so I’ve taken courses on my own time to catch up.

What has been the most exciting or gratifying part of returning to work? The work environment here at Demandbase is wonderful and makes me want to come to work. I’m grateful for my team lead who has been very patient and took the time to teach me. And getting a full time job with Demandbase has been exciting!

Did anything surprise you about your return to work experience? The workplace flexibility has been surprising to me. Coming from Costa Rica, we don’t have this kind of flexibility at work, and it’s been a pleasant surprise to be able to take some days off when needed.

What are you most proud of accomplishing during your return to work experience? I’m proud of how quickly I’ve been able to learn and that I’ve been able to complete projects and deliver results.

What did you find the most helpful about being part of a Path Forward program at Demandbase? I think the Path Forward workshops were very helpful. Sometimes I felt like this wasn’t for me and that I wasn’t doing well, but the workshops made me realize I put too much pressure on myself. Being able to talk to the Path Forward staff and getting guidance throughout the program was very helpful.

Would you recommend a return to work internship to others who are looking to restart their careers? Absolutely.

What kind of preparation would you suggest potential returnees do before applying for a return to work internship? Make sure your skills are up to date, and find out what’s going on in your industry right now. For me, I knew I needed to learn programming languages even before starting the internship, and I found it helpful to take online courses and to attend meetups about basic programming languages and tools.

What direction are you hoping to take your career in the years to come?  I would like to stay at Demandbase and continue to grow here and master the programming languages that we use. I’m still new to software engineering and want to keep improving my skills and learning more.

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