Let’s face it. Retirement isn’t for everyone. A notable percentage of people return to work within the first five years of retirement. But what’s the pathway back? Here’s one that may not be on your radar. Savvy organizations who need experienced talent have created returnship programs targeting people who are returning to work following a career break. While these programs primarily have focused on mothers re-entering the workforce, some include people returning from caregiving, medical issues and retirees. Shay Baker of Return Utah joins us to discuss how to return to work from a career break – for any reason.
Shay Baker joins us from Utah.
Shay Baker is the proud overseer of Return Utah, the first public career reentry program in the country. Working alongside Lt. Governor Deidre Henderson, Baker is responsible for Return Utah’s development, continued innovation, programming, and marketing for Utah state agencies, public/private partners, and returnees.
Baker is a returner having participated in Return Utah’s inaugural cohort. She has since presented to many of the nation’s lawmakers at the Council of State Governments, and has been featured in publications by iRelaunch, the Wall Street Journal, NPR, the Society of Human Resource Management, and Pew Charitable Trusts.
Prior to her 8-year career break, Baker worked as a television news reporter and producer for KTVX and KSL-TV in Salt Lake City. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication from Weber State University and lives in Layton, Utah with her husband and three daughters.
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“The pandemic has really caused sort of a small explosion in career reentry or return to work programs. And we know that that’s because so many jobs were lost at the height of the pandemic, especially among women and particularly marginalized women. And so while Returnships and career reentry return to work programs did exist prior to the pandemic, and they were growing slowly and steadily prior to the pandemic, the pandemic brought about this need for employers to basically acquire talent and particularly diverse talent. So a lot of organizations looked to these career re-entry, return to work models to try to appeal to people, particularly women.”
On Returning to Work
“We have individuals who’ve returned to the workforce after taking breaks to enhance their education, to start businesses, to volunteer, to run for political office. So re-entry for them is going to look different. Maybe you’re not running your own company, but you’re doing something that someone else is asking you to do, which comes with some adjustments. And we also have illness related career breaks, either caring for an elderly loved one or a child who may have been sick battling your own illness. And those come with an extensive amount of adjustments regardless of your reason.”
On Taking the Leap
“First and foremost, just do it. Don’t think too much. Just do it. If you think too much, you’re going to back out. You’re going to find a reason to feel anxious about it. You’re going to find a reason to feel less than like you’re not prepared enough, or you don’t know that software well enough, or you haven’t rebuilt your network enough who caress. Just do it. Honestly, one of the best things I did was just take the leap. And I remember I had agreed to an interview before even realizing that I had agreed to an interview. And the night before my first interview, I realized, Oh crap, I probably need a resume. That didn’t even enter my mind. I didn’t even think about it. So the night before, I’m stressed. I am freaking out, and I’m trying to write this resume. And then I’m thinking, how do I write a resume with an eight year career gap in there? What do I do? And so I literally started calling everybody I knew at 9 30, 10 o’clock, and I’m like, how do I do this? I’m on Google. I’m looking up everything. And I finally reached, a very dear friend of mine, used to be a career counselor at a university before getting her PhD. And she just said like, listen, don’t stress that. What you need to do is just come in, be transparent, be yourself, and just enjoy the conversation. You’ll do fine.”
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