Company: Motorola Solutions
Position: Project Manager
Richard took a 3-year break from his long career in telemcommunications to care for his mother and newborn child. When he was ready to return, he completed a returnship at Motorola Solutions, where he now works full-time as a project manager. Richard tells us about his return to work experience, his favorite part of working remotely, and how his previous sales experience, as well as the skills he gained during his break, helped smooth his transition back to the workforce.
Can you talk about your career break? What type of work did you do before your break? What prompted your break and how long were you out of the workforce?
I was a Director of Client Solutions at Nielsen, and prior to that, I spent 12 years at AT&T as a Sales Executive. I took a career break to care for my mother, who became ill and needed a family member to provide constant care. I decided to take time out and to look after her. Around that time, my wife and I had a child, and I decided to extend my break for another year. In total, I was out of the workforce for three years.
How long did you look for work before applying for a returnship?
I started my job search in the middle of the pandemic – May 2020 – and thought it would be challenging to find a position at a time when companies were reducing their workforces. I was looking through LinkedIn when I found Path Forward. I looked through the open returnship opportunities, and came across the Motorola Solutions program. It was exactly in my wheelhouse, because I had spent over a decade working in the telecommunications space. I worked at AT&T for over a decade, and excelled at my job, and at Nielsen, I worked closely with the different types of telecommunications carriers throughout the country, providing these companies with Nielsen market research. So the opportunity at Motorola Solutions seemed to be a perfect fit, and I was very fortunate to have found it soon after I started my job search.
What was the returnship application process like?
The entire application process was very smooth. I came into my interview with confidence, because I knew the field so well. The folks at Motorola Solutions were great, and through my interview rounds, it was clear that they understood the reasons for my break and truly valued my past experience. I was so impressed with how the application process was conducted.
What was your returnship experience at Motorola Solutions like? Did you have any doubts or worries about ramping up after your career break?
No. Coming off this break I was recharged, focused and ready for anything that came my way. There was a 90 day evaluation period, and I decided to treat this period as any other job – I planned to go in and get to work, as though I were already a permanent, full-time employee. I have a good work ethic, and I figured that as long as I applied that, I would do fine. Towards the end of my returnship, the director came up to me and offered me the permanent, full-time project manager position. I accepted and jumped in the water right away, and started working and developing relationships with my coworkers. Overall, the process of returning to work was very smooth. I was the first returnship employee to be hired by Motorola Solutions and I was treated like a full-time employee from day one.
What was it like to return to work remotely?
I’m fortunate because I’ve always worked remotely, and mentioned in my interviews that I was very comfortable working in a remote environment. I already had a full home office and everything I needed. For me, the main perk of being remote isn’t working from home, it’s the flexibility. You’re able to adjust your schedule according to what your needs are for the day. My background is in sales, and I’ve always had the sales mentality of expecting every day to be different, and being able to adjust. There were days where I’d have administrative work and be at my desk at home, and other days where I’d be out traveling and visiting clients. I enjoy embracing change, and it’s been a cornerstone of how I work. It helps that Motorola’s culture is friendly and collaborative. Its flexible work environment is amongst the best in the tech industry.
How did Motorola Solutions support you during your [remote] return to work?
Motorola Solutions understands that things are different now, and offers choice and flexibility with options to work remotely.
During my returnship, I inherited a territory in the New York region that had several existing projects. I collaborated with my Engineering team, leadership and others by way of Google Meets. It’s a highly collaborative environment so we all support each other. And we meet periodically for customer meetings and company events.
What were the most helpful ways Path Forward supported your return to work?
Path Forward provided excellent support during both the interview process and the returnship period. The team and my fellow returners in the Path Forward workshops and community were so friendly and helpful.
How has being back at work impacted your home life?
My daughter is in preschool now, and my wife and I are both working remotely, so we usually work while caring for her in the afternoons when she comes home, or we can pick her up if she isn’t feeling well. If I was in the office, I would miss so much of my daughter’s development, because at her age there’s something new everyday. I saw her first steps, and watched her slowly expand her vocabulary.
I really appreciated the time I spent with my mother, during my break, and am now appreciating the time I get to spend with my daughter.
What are some skills that you gained in your experiences caring for your mother and your child that translate into business?
Multitasking is a big skill you learn while caregiving. With my sales background, especially at a director level, I had a lot of experience multitasking as part of my career. And that’s something that comes in handy when you’re caring for both a parent and a child. I always had many things going on at one time, and you have to figure out a way to accomplish everything.
Do you have any advice for future returners?
You should be prepared to put a lot of your time into your job search, and then your return. You will need to focus on your job, and you won’t have as much time to spend with your family as you did when you were a full-time caregiver. But I would advise returners to view this as a new challenge – a way to shake up the routine you’ve gotten used to. Maybe being a full-time caregiver has gotten a bit monotonous. This is a new step in your life, and you should use it to stimulate yourself. Get excited about returning to work and channel any fears you have into passion and excitement for your new career. And let it show! Let employers see that you’re passionate about returning to work, and that you’re up for the challenge. Embrace all your new experiences and enjoy the ride.
What are you most proud of accomplishing during the returnship?
I am proud to have been the first returnship employee to be hired by Motorola Solutions. I’m proud of proving that you can take time out for personal matters that are important, and return to your career to be just as good or better than you were before.
Thanks for sharing your story, Richard! We are so happy you’ve found success and balance in your career.
– The Path Forward Team