Success Story: Pratyusha Sampathirao

Company: Grubhub
Position: Data Engineer

Pratyusha stepped away from her tech career for six years to take care of her two sons. When she was ready to return to work, Pratyusha found it difficult to get as much as a call back from recruiters, despite her experience and a Master’s degree in Computer Science. After attending a Path Forward webinar with Grubhub, she applied for a returnship at the company, where she now works full-time as a Data Engineer. Pratyusha talks about her returnship experience at Grubhub, all the ways she upskilled during her time spent caring for her sons, and how Path Forward’s advice came in handy during both her interview and returnship process.

What type of work did you do before stepping away from the workforce, and how long were you out?
After earning a Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology, I started my career as a Software Engineer at Infosys Ltd, India. My specialization was in Business Intelligence and Reporting, and I worked on data warehouse analysis and ETL tools for over three years. I then got married and moved to Texas, where I got an opportunity to work with the University of Texas as an Institutional Research Analyst while I pursued a Master’s degree in Computer Science. I completed my coursework and by the time I graduated, I had a six-week-old baby. I decided to take a step back from my career to enjoy time with my newborn, and during that time, I had another child. In sum, I was out of the professional workforce for about six years.

How did you decide to return to work? Did you take any classes in preparation for your return to work?
When my youngest son turned two, I began thinking about returning to work. I upskilled myself through online learning resources like Udemy, Coursera and LinkedIn Learning and got certified in AWS, Python and Tableau. A year later, my youngest was starting school. I thought it was the perfect time to restart my career, and I have to thank my family for being supportive of my decisions.  

How long did you look for work before applying for a returnship?
I started looking for work in late 2020 and I never imagined that it would be so difficult to get back after taking a step back. I only applied to jobs that perfectly matched my skill set. I would get a few calls from recruiters, but because of my resume gap, I rarely heard back from them. In the beginning of 2021, I heard about the returnship program from my friends and about an upcoming Path Forward employer roundtable webinar with Amazon, Grubhub and Momentive. It sounded too good to be true. I attended the webinar, but I still had my doubts if a returnship would work for me. 

That was when I found a Path Forward returner on LinkedIn who I connected with. She answered all of my questions and encouraged me to apply to the program. The application process at Grubhub was so smooth. I had all my interviews within the span of three weeks and a week after the final one, I received an offer.

What was your returnship experience at Grubhub?
I returned to work at Grubhub as a Data Engineer. From day one, my team was very supportive. My manager designed an onboarding plan to ensure I had a great experience throughout the program no matter what the outcome was (if I received a full-time offer or not). I had weekly check-ins with my manager to make sure I was comfortable in my role and received feedback on any areas of improvement. The feedback helped me improve in my role over the duration of the program. I also had a mentor and buddy who gave me all the resources I needed to get started and who I could go to for questions throughout the program. I had an opportunity to work on some interesting projects while learning open source extract, transform, load (ETL) tools. 

Your returnship was 100% virtual. What was your experience of returning to work remotely at Grubhub?
My team had an existing hybrid structure, and that made it easy for me to blend in and communicate effectively. My onboarding process was great. People are really open to hopping on a Zoom call or chatting on Slack. Regularly catching up with my mentor, manager and buddy helped me a lot throughout the program. The Reconnect team at Grubhub offered us support by organizing internal speaker sessions and regular check-ins. Though I sometimes wish I could meet my team in-person, being able to work 100% remotely made my transition back to working easier. My cohort of five returnees has continuously stayed in touch and shared our experiences with each other. 

What did you find most helpful about being part of the Path Forward program?
Path Forward was helping me even before I got my returnship. During the webinar that I attended, the Grubhub recruiter on the panel gave a walk through of what the interview process would be like. Once I had gotten an interview scheduled, I played the recording over and over to prepare myself. The webinar also recommended some great resources for preparing for the tech interview, from websites to a book called Cracking the Coding Interview, all of which were really helpful.

And once we started the Returnship program, the workshop sessions and alumni chats that Path Forward’s program team facilitated helped me a lot because it made me realize I am not alone. Everybody has similar feelings, and there are others who have successfully gone through this process. Throughout the returnship, the Path Forward team anticipated some of the biggest stressors – like our self-doubt, the challenges of returning to work, how to get honest feedback from managers – and offered so much advice and support which made a huge difference.

Are there any skills from your career before you stepped away or during that time that you use in your current role?
Programming skills and SQL expertise from my previous experience has come in handy here. The Python and AWS courses I took during my break were also a huge help since they taught me key skills that I need to have in my new role.

What has been the most exciting part of returning to work?
I love the feeling of getting back to the workforce and being productive. I am super excited to learn and work alongside the experts in cutting-edge technologies. 

Do you have any advice for future returners?
Start upgrading your skill set and brush up on your existing skills. Path Forward has some great advice on how to be successful in a tech interview. Follow their advice, and most importantly, be yourself.

Secondly, I would advise returners to believe in themselves. Be patient with yourself. Have faith in the process and in your abilities. You’ve succeeded in your career before, and you can do it again.

Thanks for sharing your story, Pratyusha! We are so happy you’ve found success and balance in your career. You can learn more about Pratyusha on her LinkedIn page.
– The Path Forward Team