Questions (and Answers) About Path Forward: Updated Edition

Since the launch of our program we’ve gotten a lot of questions from people eager to apply for a Path Forward internship. We have answers! Read on for the most frequently asked questions about our program.

What is a Path Forward return to work program? A Path Forward return to work program is a temporary job placement with a specific company that is geared toward professionals looking to restart their careers after they took time to focus on caregiving or other family obligations. The media often refer to these programs as “returnships” because they are similar to college internships but also different in some important ways. Like a college internship, Path Forward placements have an emphasis on learning and development and the gaining (and regaining) of skills. Unlike a college internship, the Path Forward program is exclusively for women and men who have a minimum of 5 years of professional experience.

Are these regular full-time jobs with benefits? Am I guaranteed a job offer at the end of the program? Path Forward internships are not “regular” jobs. It is a temporary program with a specified start and end date. They are paid positions and generally require full-time hours though some companies offer part-time opportunities. Each company determines the pay rate and what benefits, if any, to offer during the 12-16 weeks of the program. Like most temporary programs the return to work program generally doesn’t include benefits during the internship period. Each company determines the criteria for success and will make the final decision on whether to make an offer of ongoing employment at the conclusion of the program.

Why should I apply for an internship when I have great experience? Should I focus on finding a full-time job? Many women (and men) who’ve paused their career for many years find that it’s difficult to be considered for full-time positions. They may also be uncertain how their prior experience translates into today’s workplace and may lack confidence in their abilities. The Path Forward return to work program addresses all these issues by creating an environment where you are able to redevelop your skills while gaining valuable experience. Our program has a great track record of success. The majority of participants are offered ongoing employment with the company where they intern and the remainder generally find employment within six months of the end of the program. Also, the Path Forward program includes specific professional development workshops with the Path Forward staff to help you restart your career successfully. You gain a valuable support system with the returnees at other companies and the Path Forward team. All that said, only you can decide what is the best way for you to restart your career.

I signed up on the Path Forward site, what happens next?  Great! We are excited to have you on board. Signing up at the Path Forward site is a great way to stay connected to us and the community here and to be alerted quickly whenever new opportunities become available. BUT, it is not a job application. Path Forward internships are offered by each company we work with and you must apply with that company for the specific role you are interested in. You can find a full listing of all open opportunities on this page. The good news is that this system means you can apply to as many positions as you want.

I don’t live in any of the cities where you have openings listed. When will you have opportunities in my city? We’re actively working to expand our program in as many places as possible. The specific cities where we offer programs is determined by where we’re able to secure the most partners and offer the most job opportunities. Keep watching our site and newsletter for updates.

What are the criteria for being offered a Path Forward internship? Candidates need to meet the criteria to be eligible for Path Forward which means five years of prior professional experience and a minimum of 2 years out of the professional workforce to focus on caregiving. That can mean childcare, eldercare or care of another loved one. “Trailing spouses” who have been unemployed for two years or more because of moves required to support their spouse’s career, work visa restrictions or similar reasons also qualify. The two years out of the workforce does not need to be continuous. Having generated some income from non-professional activities or from consulting/freelance work does not disqualify applicants. Its up to each employer to determine if a candidate meets the criteria for the Path Forward program.

I meet the Path Forward criteria, does that mean I qualify for the job listed? Each company has crafted job postings for each internship it is offering and those posting specify the function-related criteria they are looking for. Generally speaking companies are looking for people who have several years of professional experience that they are looking to use to fuel their career restart. That said, we’ve seen women successfully make a career change or pivot through a Path Forward returnship. This tends to be most successful when the “new” career has skills that are related to the prior career and when the candidate has done some self-study to begin to fill any skills gaps.

What if I don’t meet ALL the job qualifications? Can I still apply? Yes! The companies in our program are looking for people who have solid professional backgrounds who are looking to restart their careers. As part of that, they are open to transferable skills, nontraditional educational backgrounds and experience gained outside of the paid workforce. If you believe you meet many of the qualifications listed – even if your skills and experiences weren’t gained the “traditional” way — you should absolutely apply.

What should I do if I don’t see a job I’m interested in or qualified for? Stay tuned for updates to the Path Forward website. We are hard at work now signing on new partners to join us for future programs, and we are regularly announcing new partners and job listings.  Meanwhile, there are a few resources you can check out to learn about other return to work programs.

What kind of support can I expect in the program? A lot! Path Forward works with each company to train their team and managers to run this program and to support all the participants to be successful. In addition to that, Path Forward hosts professional development workshops for all participants during the program. These workshops are designed to help you restart your career with confidence. Read this blog post to get an idea of some of the ways we think about what “success” looks like for our participants.

Got more questions? Keep them coming! Post them in the comments or send them to hello@pathforward.org and we’ll get them answered.

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