Priti Khattar took a three year break from her engineering career to care for her daughter. When she was ready to return to work, Priti took the time to refresh her skills before applying for a returnship at Momentive, where she now works full-time as a senior software engineer. She talks about all the ways she prepared for her return to work, her returnship experience, and how Momentive helped her smoothly transition back into the workforce.
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 am a computer science engineer, and before taking my break, I worked close to eleven years with various organizations, helping them develop their technology solutions. I really enjoyed my work. Then I had a baby, and went on a maternity break. I was planning to return to work, but then decided to extend my break to focus on my daughter for a little longer, as she had some dietary restrictions. I ended up taking a break for about three years.
What prompted you to return to work?
I have always loved my job and I really missed it while I was at home. During my break, I stayed busy volunteering at community centers, and upskilling myself with the latest technologies. By the time my daughter turned three, she was doing a lot better, so I decided it was time to return to my career.
How long were you actively looking for work before you applied for a returnship?
When I decided to return, I started preparing by refreshing my skills, upskilling, and spending time looking for jobs that matched my skill set. I had been job-searching for about three months before I saw the opportunity at Momentive that was very relevant to my skills. I applied, and was fortunately accepted into the program.
How did you prepare for your return to work?
I upskilled myself by doing a lot of online courses and training from Udemy, read articles, and did a lot of tutorials. I also created a GitHub account for myself and added a lot of projects to it that would actually demonstrate my skills, and showcase my hands-on coding experience.
What was your returnship experience at Momentive?
My returnship at Momentive was a really great experience and allowed me to resume my journey as a software developer. At the start of the returnship, I was responsible for small enhancements and fixing issues, and now I have transitioned into helping Momentive build their brand and their customer-facing website. I had chances to connect with a lot of my colleagues, and was given a mentor and a buddy throughout my returnship program. I had weekly one-on-ones with them, and they’d guide me on very important skills, advise me on what I should be focusing on, and help me wherever I was stuck. I learned a lot from my manager and mentor, and they have helped me have a very smooth transition into the company through my returnship program.
You returned to work remotely. What was that experience like?
Having my buddy and mentor, and getting the opportunities to meet one-on-one with my manager, helped me a lot. I not only had a pretty amazing team, but was also able to meet and work with different teams across the company, like the design team. It’s given me the chance to meet my colleagues, and to learn a lot of new technologies.
In my pre-break career, I used to go to the office every day, so working remotely is a new experience for me. Being remote has helped make my return to work even smoother, because it’s given me a chance to spend time with my daughter and make sure she is settled with this transition, as well.
What did you find most helpful about being part of the Path Forward program at Momentive?
After my three year career break, I found it really difficult to even get job interviews, so I’m very thankful to Path Forward for helping me break through that. They created the opportunity that allowed me to have a great returnship at Momentive, and everyone has been very helpful during my journey back to work. Path Forward has a very big network of alumni with whom you can connect, and who joined our regular discussion sessions. These sessions really helped calm my early jitters and gave me confidence that I can succeed.
What has been the most exciting or gratifying part of returning to work?
Doing what I love, and being part of this great company. As I mentioned, the company encourages interacting with the coworkers both inside and outside your team, and it’s been really fun to learn from them. I’m very excited about the opportunities that I am getting here, like building this customer facing website, and learning a lot of new technologies. So I’m really happy to be part of this journey with Momentive.
What are you most proud of accomplishing during your return to work experience?
I’m really proud of earning the trust and respect of my entire team. It definitely took me some time to get up to speed and learn everything the team and the project has been doing. But my mentor, my manager, and the entire team have been nothing but encouraging about the work that I’ve been doing here, which makes me feel very happy.
Do you have any advice for future returners?
Make sure you upskill by taking a course online or reading articles and doing tutorials. Update your LinkedIn and use it to grow your network. Have a portfolio. For technology roles, I’d recommend creating a GitHub account because that has helped me a lot. You can add some projects to it, to show your knowledge and skills. All of these prove to hiring managers and prospective companies that you are capable of doing the job that you are applying to.
Make the most of your returnship program. Try to learn as much as you can, and most importantly, believe in yourself. There will be ups and downs as you return to work, but you need to have some confidence in yourself. If you are trying your best, the opportunities will knock at your door.