Mei Wong took a six and a half year break to support family moves to Taiwan, then to Austin, and to care for her children. She always planned to return to work, and when she was ready, Mei upskilled through a bootcamp and applied for a returnship at Momentive. She now works there as a full-time front-end developer, and talks about her returnship experience, and how Momentive supported her remote return to work.
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’m from Malaysia, and worked as a software engineer in manufacturing, mainly working with Windows-based development. I took a break when my family and I relocated to Taiwan. I was pregnant at the time, and I felt I had no choice but to quit my career. We were in Taiwan for two years before we came to Austin, where I extended my break. Overall, I was out for about six and a half years.
What prompted you to return to work?
I always wanted to get back to work. I had been working for so many years, and I felt like I could still contribute to society. My kids were all grown up and quite independent. So I decided it was time to get back to my career.
How long were you looking for work before your returnship at Momentive?
When I decided to return to the workforce, I looked at job postings on the Internet, and I knew that my past experience didn’t really apply to the job market here. So before I applied for jobs, I enrolled myself in a boot camp to upskill my knowledge in front-end development. I spent about four months in the boot camp. After that, I started to look for a job, and searched for about 14 months before I joined Momentive.
What was your returnship experience at Momentive like?
My co-workers were very supportive and responsive. The on-boarding process at Momentive was really great, and helped prepare us to get back into the workforce. We had the chance to really understand Momentive’s products, and to work on our skills.
Are there any skills from your previous career that you now use in your new role?
Previously, I was working in a manufacturing environment, and am now a front-end developer, but I’ve noticed that my problem-solving skills have been very useful. That was something I used extensively in my previous roles, to analyze the root causes of problems, and to come up with solutions. I’ve found my collaboration skills to be very helpful, as well.
What did you find most helpful about being part of the Path Forward program at Momentive?
The alumni and the program team really helped me along the way, giving feedback and support. We got advice on what we should do during the returnship program to be successful in returning to the workforce, and Path Forward helped us through all of the different phases of the program.
Could you talk a little bit about what that experience was like returning to work remotely after being out of the workforce for six years?
At first, I was really skeptical about working remotely. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get the support that I needed. But it turned out to be great. My coworkers are really responsive and supportive, and answered any questions I had. If I was stuck on a problem I couldn’t solve, I could post on Slack and get an answer very quickly. In the end, I didn’t see any issues working remotely, compared to going into the office. And working remotely was more efficient for me as a parent. With no commute, I had extra time to spend with my family.
What has been the most exciting part of returning to work?
I’m most excited about the sense of accomplishment I get from my job, and being able to contribute to my team and to the company.
Do you have any advice for future returners?
It’s tough during the transition of going back into the workforce, but hang in there, because you are not alone. There are organizations like Path Forward out there to help you, and a lot of companies are starting to see the importance of having programs to help parents get back to their careers. When returning to work, you should practice your technical skills to stay current in the job market. But don’t forget to take time off when you feel tired, and to care for your well-being.