Aasavari took a three-year break from her career in tech career to care for her family. When she was ready to return, Aasavari found out about Path Forward, and applied for a returnship at Red Ventures, where she now works full-time as a software engineer. She talks about her return to work experience, why she loved the flexibility of a returnship at Red Ventures, and the support she received from her Red Ventures team and from Path Forward.
Can you tell me a little bit about your career break? What type of work did you do before you took a break? What prompted your break and how long were you out of the workforce?
I had a very long career as a software engineer and technical account manager. Right before my break, I was working as a solutions architect engineer. I moved into solutions engineering because I wanted to interact more with people. I have good communications skills as well as coding skills, and wanted to try out being a bridge between the customer and the company.
I took a break because I wanted to give more attention to my family and kids. My commute was very long, not very sustainable, and balancing family with work was taking a toll on my health. My family definitely benefited from my break. My kids were happier, and I felt much closer to them. A year passed, and just when I was thinking about returning to work, the pandemic hit. I figured I would take the time to prepare for my return, getting up-to-date on new technology, and start thinking about what I wanted to do once I went back into the workforce.
In 2021, companies started hiring again, and I went on a few interviews. By then I had been on a break for almost three years. It’s not always easy to get back into the workforce because not every interviewer accepts the story of your career break, and they assume that your skills are not as up-to-date as someone who has been in the workforce more recently. I did pretty okay in interviews and would make it to the final stages of most of them, but I was never hired. It was like something was missing, and I didn’t know what. I thought it might be because of my break.
Then I heard about Path Forward, and I was happy to learn that there was an initiative that is designed for people like me, career professionals who took a break for personal reasons. And that they give us a chance to prove ourselves and come back. So I signed up for the newsletter, and started getting emails about all these different companies that were hiring under the returnship program, one of which was Red Ventures. I had decided that I wanted to return to work as a software engineer, and Red Ventures had a returnship opportunity in that field. So I applied, and the interview process was great. It was a very practical process, and interactive, not just theoretical.
What was your returnship at Red Ventures like?
Red Ventures gave me a lot of flexibility in my returnship. I had the option of choosing which part of the tech stack I wanted to work in – front-end, back-end, data science, etc. I had always wanted to work as a back-end engineer, so I chose that track. I also got the opportunity to pick the language that I wanted to work in which is great, because there are so many new things I have had a chance to learn. For instance, I never worked in Cloud or in Amazon Web Services before, and am now getting a chance to learn them and work with them on pretty much a daily basis. So there’s a lot of learning, and it’s all very beneficial. I love it.
During my returnship, I was also assigned a mentor and along with my manager, they were my guides through the 16-week journey. Both were phenomenal, and so dedicated to offering me support, feedback, and resources. My cohort was very friendly and collaborative, and we are all still very much in touch with each other. We would talk almost every day, exchange information, and give advice.
In all my years of working, I have never experienced such a positive, collaborative, and open culture. I’m surrounded by amazing, positive people. Even though I experienced some impostor syndrome going back into the workforce, the fact that everyone was so helpful and supportive helped ease my fears about my abilities and my transition back into my career.
I am now working as a full-time back-end engineer at Red Ventures. I’m learning something new every day, and it’s been so fulfilling.
What did you find most helpful about being part of a Path Forward program at Red Ventures?
I loved the sessions that Path Forward held for us. There were moments during my returnship that I was really questioning myself, and wondering if I was doing enough. All of the pressing questions I had were answered during these sessions, and my doubts were always quieted.
I found those sessions very helpful because I could hear from others in my cohort, and previous Path Forward returners who have been successful in their new careers. I’d hear them speak and think to myself, “they have also gone through the same thing that I’m going through right now.” Their stories were very heartening to hear. From these sessions, I got valuable advice on how to approach my returnship, plan my day and my week, talk to my mentors, and build rapport with my new colleagues. Overall, the support I received from Path Forward was fabulous. The entire initiative is so brilliant.
What are you most proud of accomplishing during your return to work experience?
I think I’m most proud of being able to live up to all the expectations that I put on myself. My Red Ventures team had faith in me, but I questioned myself: Would I be able to live up to this challenge? Would I be able to complete this program? I’m proud that I was able to successfully go through the returnship, and to get a full-time offer. I’m also proud of being able to find a good work-life balance, and get back to the workforce, because it meant that I could overcome all the fears and inhibitions that I had collected over the years of my career break. I’m gaining my confidence back little by little, everyday.
Do you have any advice for future returners?
I would say, don’t be afraid. It’s easy to doubt yourself, but you have to trust the process, trust the program and trust yourself. Enjoy what you’re doing, because, at Red Ventures, you have so much flexibility to pick what you want to focus on. And if you enjoy what you do, you’ll succeed at it.