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Are you looking to re-enter the workforce or considering a career transition? Are you feeling overwhelmed and unsure of how to start? Consider a "returnship."

What is a returnship?

A “returnship” is similar to an internship, but they are for experienced professionals who have been out of school and out of the workforce for some time. Returnships are designed for adults who are seeking to re-enter the workforce, most commonly in a different line of work from the one they left. This gives professionals an opportunity to test the waters before making a full-fledged career change.

While this type of program was originally designed for those individuals who were reentering the workforce following a voluntary leave, that is no longer the case. This one of kind program was pioneered by the Sara Lee Corporation, in Downers Grove, IL in 2008. However, more companies have begun to incorporate this concept for individuals who would like to transition into a new career.

Companies such as Goldman Sachs, Baby, and MIT have begun to implement similar programs. These initiatives were based on the premise of implementing and providing flexible opportunities for midcareer individuals to reenter the work force after an extended time away. In many cases after participating, individuals found they were offered potential permanent employment after completion of the returnship program.

How to approach this possibility:

If the company you’re hoping to work for doesn’t have such a program, you may be able to suggest the possibility to them. It will likely end up benefitting the company as much as it will benefit you.

Develop a proposal for the services you could provide in exchange for consideration for a future hire. Although you may not be able to locate an example of a returnship proposal, bear in mind an internship proposal can easily be converted for this purpose. Few employers will turn away free labor that offers a real value. They benefit by receiving “free services” from a seasoned professional, while you obtain new skills and experience in a new career field, with the potential for permanent employment. Begin by researching what the organization is missing or needing. After completing a gap analysis create a proposal based on your results and present your proposal.

While there are no guarantees, a returnship could be a potential avenue to a new career!

Source: Bowie, L; (2010, July 10) The benefits of a returnship: A.K.A. internship for the mid-career employee;


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Eastern Illinois University
1301 Human Services
Charleston, IL 61920

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