Struggling to Get Back to Work After a Career Break?
Zynga's New Returnship Program Will Help You Make a Smooth Transition
It can feel almost impossible to get back to work after a career break, but some companies are making it easier with dedicated return to work programs.
Even though the corporate world may have been slow on the uptake, companies know there's a lot of untapped, experienced talent eager to get back to work — they just need some help with the transition.
Our partner company Zynga understands this all too well. That's why this fall, they're launching a Returnship Program for anyone who's been out of the workforce for at least 2 years to care for a family member.
A global leader in interactive entertainment with a mission to connect the world through games, Zynga knows that a diverse team is key to achieving that mission.
To learn more about the value Zynga sees in team members who've taken career breaks, I sat down with Tracey Thomas, Manager of Learning & Development, to talk about why Zynga is launching a Returnship Program, the results they hope to see, and how you can apply.
Why are you launching this program?
Tracey Thomas (TT): As an organization, we are committed to shaping the future of gaming to more closely resemble the makeup of our players. Because the people who take time off to care for a family member are women, we saw this as an opportunity to give them a chance to build a career in gaming, but also help us diversify our pipeline with highly qualified and skilled candidates.
Returnees are highly qualified, highly experienced individuals who have worked in their industries for at least five years, and are motivated and ready to get back to work.
The challenge that these individuals face when they're going back to work is that they're often overlooked because of that gap on their resumes.
It's not that they don't have extraordinary qualifications to do the job, or even that they haven't continued to build up their skills while they were away. It's that extended time away is often seen as an unknown by recruiting teams and hiring managers. Our hope is to help candidates overcome that hurdle and thrive at Zynga.
How does the Returnship Program work?
TT: The Returnship itself takes place over 16 weeks. It's a pretty unique program that operates a lot like an internship, except that the candidates are experienced.
Participants will receive training and support from us as program organizers, as well as from role-specific mentors, who will help them get up to speed and do meaningful work from day one.
We're running the program in conjunction with Path Forward, and they will also provide several workshops throughout the program that will enable candidates to successfully re-enter the workforce and build their community.
At the end of the 16 weeks, assuming it's a good fit, they'll have the option to join us full time. Even if it doesn't work out, they'll get support from us as they look for another role. We'll help them refine their resumes and prepare for interviews with other companies.
And you know, at the end of the day, they have 16 weeks of really, really good working experience with a successful, supportive company. But of course we're hoping that they stay with us!
What do you want to see as a result of this program?
TT: I am excited for the opportunity to give capable people a path back to work and I would love it if they found their careers with Zynga. I hope they feel that they got a lot of support during the program.
But beyond that, I would love to see a shift in the paradigm in how we recruit people. I hope it encourages our hiring managers to take a second look at candidates who have non-traditional career paths and realize that they would be fantastic value-adds to the team.
Why should women participate in this program?
TT: This is such an innovative and supportive way to re-embark on a career after taking time off, especially for moms.
As a woman and a mother, I identify with this experience. Once we take time off, there's this confidence issue, especially in technology where things move so fast and it's already a super competitive industry.
This is a program that is designed for you. We want to hear from you. We believe you can be uniquely successful at Zynga and add value. We've already done that part where in a traditional hiring process, you have to prove yourself. We believe in the program because we believe in you and the work you've put into your career. After you apply, we'll work together to get you trained up for you to do great work.
On top of that, this is an opportunity to build community with others going through exactly the same thing that you are. So you're not going to be the only person in your organization who has taken some time off and is just returning.
We've made the commitment as an employer to create this inclusive environment where belonging and development are priorities. We've created learning and development opportunities specifically to help you get ramped up over 16 weeks, where in a traditional re-entry situation you wouldn't have that adjustment time. We are coming to this program with the understanding that you'll need time to get up to speed, but once you are, you are going to be fantastic and you are going to make a fantastic contribution to our team.
What tips do you have for applicants?
1) I really want to encourage people to apply, even if they feel like they don't meet every single piece of criteria that's listed on the job description. Women have a tendency to shy away if they don't meet 100% of the criteria, and we want to discourage that type of thinking because we may see value in you that you may not even realize. It's worth it to just take the time to apply and let us reach out to you.
2) When you are refining your resume for a role like this, show off the skills that you developed when you were taking your time off. So if, for example, you organized an international trip, there's a lot of key skills involved in that, and that's a really good thing to put on your resume. If you had daily tasks that you did when you were caring for a family member, those are great ways to show your coordination skills. They show your management and people skills, so play up those experiences that may not be directly related to the role, but that have some similarities to the leveling of the role if you're going to be managing a project/program/people. That's the best way to stand out for hiring managers because those are the types of skills that are transferable no matter what industry you're in. Even if it was for caring for a family member.
"I'm interested! How do I apply?"
TT: Check out the active listings on our site. As long as there is a listing on our website, you should continue to apply. Once we've filled those roles, we'll pull them down so there won't be any expired listings. But if they're up there, take a chance, reach out to us, apply.
The only set criteria is that you have to have been out of the workforce for two years to care for a family member, and worked for five years in your industry prior to that.
As long as you meet those criteria, we want to hear from you. Don't be shy.
What resources does Zynga offer parents?
TT: Zynga is an amazing employer for parents. I'm a mother of two and I couldn't be more thrilled with the resources at my office in Austin. I get to work remotely, and Zynga also provides a caregiving benefit, meaning they subsidize 15 days of back-up care throughout the year.
Zynga offers one of the best PTO schedules I have seen in the industry. Most of our studios and roles are flexible about working from home. It depends on the role and the gaming cycles.
And if you have a situation that requires you to be away from the office, Zynga is fantastic about that. There are amazing maternity and paternity benefits as well.
So I would say that Zynga is just super family friendly. In the Austin studio we do a number of family-related events on the weekend, like going to the lake or a water park.
What's your favorite part about working at Zynga?
TT: Actually, one of my favorite things about working at Zynga is that it is so family friendly. It makes it really easy for me as a mother to lean into my career without having to sacrifice my role as a mother and a wife.
Aside from that, it's just a really fun place to work. All of our offices are casual and laid back. We're working on games all day long, which I think is just such a fun opportunity. We work with really great partnerships and IPs, so we're working with the top names in the entertainment industry. And we were also just named the number one mobile gaming company by Pocket Gamer!
Ready to apply?
Be sure to check out Zynga's page on PowerToFly to learn more about their open roles, benefits (like flexible hours and dog-friendly offices!), and approach to diversity and inclusion (50% of their board members are women!).
- Culture and Application Process at Zynga - PowerToFly Blog ›
- Culture and Application Process at Zynga - PowerToFly Blog ›
According to a recent study, anti-Asian hate crimes have risen 150% since the pandemic started. But these acts of violence are not new — they are part of a much larger history of anti-Asian racism and violence in the U.S.
That makes celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (which was named a month-long celebration in May by Congress in 1992 "to coincide with two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants on May 7, 1843 and contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad, completed May 10, 1869") this year all the more important.
As we reflect on recent events and how they fit into a much larger history of discrimination, we're also taking time to celebrate and acknowledge the many achievements of the AAPI community.
We asked several of our partner companies what they're doing to honor AAPI Heritage Month at work, and we were inspired by the range of responses, covering everything from campaigns to #StopAsianHate to educational events on AAPI history.
Here's what they're doing, in their own words:
Empowering authenticity - LogMeIn
"Our theme this year is AIM to Be Real. We are embracing our new company values and celebrating those who bring their authentic selves to work, who help create space to celebrate diversity of thought, and who give back to the API community. Our Asian ERG, Asians in Motion (AIM), is hosting several events: a discussion about bringing your authentic self to work with Jerry Won (Dear Asian Americans podcast); a refugee-led virtual cooking class; ERG Movie Club discussions featuring Bollywood films, and a virtual volunteer event where we will offer career development mentoring for young women across Asia."
Learn more about LogMeIn here.
Educating on current events — Raytheon Technologies
"Raytheon Technologies is honoring Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with an enterprise-wide global town hall event – Real Talk: Building CommUNITY Together. Organized by the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) employee resource groups across the company, employees will share their personal experiences and discuss ways to support Asian American Pacific Islander communities. The event will also feature prominent leading advocates from renowned civil rights organizations to provide insight into the national context surrounding recent events. We will also feature AAPI employees internally and on our social media channels."
Learn more about Raytheon Technologies here.
Encouraging awareness, growth, and learning — Moody's
"Moody's is encouraging awareness, growth, and learning during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with the following activities, led by our Multicultural Business Resource Group and DE&I team:
- Weekly newsletters featuring AAPI employee profiles and cultural resources
- Video screening and small-group discussions supporting #StopAsianHate
- Cultural panel discussion featuring employee stories
- Professional development activities
- External speakers speaking about Asian leadership"
Supporting professional development — Freddie Mac
"Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month at Freddie Mac – Together, We Are Stronger
Freddie Mac supports the professional development of Asian and Pacific Islander employees while promoting an increased awareness of the value they bring to the organization and our local communities. Our InspirASIAN Business Resource Group is hosting various activities throughout the month such as:
- Personal development session on empowerment led by a coach from our Employee Assistance Program.
- "Stop Asian Hate" lunch and learn geared toward discussing the hurdles facing the AAPI community.
- Fireside chat about racial injustice with leaders from our InspirASIAN and ARISE (employees of the African diaspora) BRGs."
Fostering inclusion, learning, and belonging – Nestlé USA
"At Nestlé USA, the Pan Asian Network (PAN), one of our many employee resource groups that support our Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion initiatives, will host a variety of events to honor and acknowledge Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. These activities will foster greater inclusion, enhanced learning, and belonging for the AAPI community. PAN will highlight women's development in Asian cultures, Asian leadership and what their culture means to them, culinary innovation of Asian cuisine, intersectionality of LGBTQ+ and Pan Asian community, as well as an enhanced learning watch party of the PBS movie 'Asian American.'"
Learn more about Nestlé USA here.
Promoting cultural literacy – Relativity
The Community Resource Group at Relativity
"For Relativity, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is an opportune time to not only celebrate the rich AAPI cultures represented within our company, but to also foster awareness and allyship amidst the current rise of AAPI hate. RelAsians, our internal community resource group, has organized a few activities for May: a book club focused on AAPI heritage—because we feel it's never too early to gain cultural literacy, a weekly spotlight on AAPI Relativians, and a virtual event that takes attendees on a tour through an Asian grocery store, introducing native vegetables and staple ingredients for traditional home-cooked Asian recipes."
- Contribution from Neha Pant, Sr. Performance Engineer & Angie Ocasek, Sr. Specialist, Partner Enablement – Co-Chairs of the RelAsians Community Resource Group at Relativity
Learn more about Relativity here.
Creating transformative experiences – Facebook
"At Facebook, our APIs employee resource group's mission is to create transformative experiences for all APIs at Facebook, Inc through key cultural awareness and engagement highlighting the API community. To kick off APIHM, we will host a series of events and conversations for the community and its allies designed to support the API community around the theme, The SUM of Us, including:
- Letting Others In: a mindful discussion series that privileges intersectional voices, storytelling, feedback, and vulnerability as tools for building empathy and inclusion amongst organizations.
- Racial Healing Learning Session: specific to the API Experience focused on naming of experiences and emotional responses, understanding the body's responses to racial trauma, what the audience can do in the moment for self-care, and long-term strategies to overcome the effect of the traumatic experience.
- Bystander Training/self Defense Workshop"
Learn more about Facebook here.
Extensive and exciting programming — 2U
"At 2U, Inc. we'll be honoring Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with extensive and exciting programming coordinated by our employee-led Asian Pacific Islander Network (APIN). In a year marred by exceptional challenges APIN has centered activities around the ameliorating themes of joy, culture and wellness. Be it delighting in a ukulele mini concert, reading an interview highlighting an API coworker, winding down after too much screen time with a somatic healing session or engaging in a panel discussion with API tattoo artists, we have a packed month ahead with opportunities to support oneself and the API culture! Follow along @Lifeat2U on Instagram for more!"
Learn more about 2U here.
Amplifying voices and educating others – Smartsheet
"During APAHM, the API at Smartsheet community will be hosting several events and activities to educate others, amplify AAPI voices, and celebrate the AAPI community! We plan to kick off the month with a documentary viewing and discussion to learn about AAPI history, and hope to share personal stories from our AAPI employees throughout the month. We'll end with an opportunity for the community to celebrate itself by gathering together for fun and games, while eating food from local Asian-owned restaurants."
Learn more about Smartsheet here.
Rising together in sports and culture – NBA
"For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, APEX is proud to present a multitude of celebratory activities, headlined by an NBA Family Virtual Town Hall and, with the NFL and MLB, an Asians in Sports & Culture Symposium themed "Together We Rise" featuring prominent Asian personalities from the sports world. We are also launching a PSA with an NBA star, honoring Eid-al-Fitr at the end of Ramadan, offering a bystander intervention training led by AAJC, and – because the celebration wouldn't be complete without food – hosting a sushi making class for our members."
Learn more about the NBA here.
Creating courageous conversations – Commvault
"This May, we are celebrating all our Asian/Pacific Islander employees, not just Asian Americans. We will spend the month learning about and celebrating the diverse cultures of Asia through weekly events and activities led by our Multi-Culture ERG. Vaulters and external guests will teach us the history of practices such as yoga, origami, and Asian cuisines. We will also discuss topics like the rise of hate crimes against Asian people and the recent spike in COVID-19 in India. These activities and courageous conversations will engage our workforce and create support for our Asian and Pacific Islander communities around the world."
Learn more about Commvault here.
Honoring history through virtual events – Collins Aerospace
"Collins Aerospace supports our AAPI colleagues not only in May, but all year. Our parent company Raytheon Technologies hosted a virtual Town Hall last month to provide a safe space for open dialogue about recent events targeting Asian Americans in the U.S. In addition to this entity-wide event, our Asia Pacific ERG at Collins is hosting events that educate and honor the importance of Asian Pacific American history such as virtual Lunch & Tours spotlighting South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, and India; and Thoughts & Support sessions. Site-specific events include virtual cooking class, and viewing PBS docuseries Asian Americans."
Learn more about Collins Aerospace here.
Highlighting new perspectives – MongoDB
"MongoDB will share daily historical facts, highlights of Asian American pioneers, and perspectives from our AAPI employees in a dedicated Slack channel. We will also be providing access to an Asian Pacific American Heritage Month webinar, organizing a trivia night, and holding Processing Together sessions for our internal AAPI community due to recent hate crimes happening across the globe. These sessions are a safe space for employees to share their stories and sentiments of what it is like as an Asian American in America today. (Read MongoDB employee Monica Lu's story about being an Asian American woman in tech here.)"
Learn more about MongoDB here.
Spotlighting diverse communities – Bumble
"At Bumble, moments like heritage month celebrations are often our anchor to ensure we are spotlighting diverse communities. In alignment with AAPI Heritage Month in May, Bumble is rolling out a series of thoughtful programming to encourage internal education and around how to support the Stop Asian Hate movement and better serve the Asian community globally. The lineup of initiatives include:
- BuzzWord DEI Discussion Series with featured guest speakers: This conversation will focus on the Asian community within the context of larger cultural issues such as dating app experiences, fetishization, masculinity, and representation.
- Bumble will be inviting employees to join a virtual Vietnamese coffee-making class. Created in partnership with Phin Bar, an urban brew-bar that offers Vietnamese-style steeped coffee combined with house-made ingredients, Bumble hopes to facilitate a deeper cultural learning and community bonding experience for the team.
- Bumble will also be activating channels across social media and our product to educate our community about bystander intervention and raise awareness around the importance of supporting the Stop Asian Hate movement."
Engaging in daring conversations – Procore
"In celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month in May, Procore recently organized an internal event to recognize and support the AAPI community. The event was hosted as part of our ongoing internal speaker series, 'Daring Conversations & Allyship,' to create space for an open dialogue around diversity, inclusion, and belonging. All employees were invited to tune in as employees from our AAPI communities shared their unique experiences, addressed anti-Asian hate, and discussed actionable ways to support our AAPI community."
Learn more about Procore here.
Taking action to foster change – SeatGeek
"This month the POC ERG will be meeting and hosting different activities to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. This includes creating a safe space to discuss current events, and what actions our communities can take to foster change, sending out a newsletter which will highlight the Asian community in every aspect, and lastly, we will be hosting a guest speaker.
We hope with these planned activities and meetings, we can highlight, and uplift the Asian/Pacific American community, as well as bring awareness to the horrible ongoing attacks they are facing."
Learn more about SeatGeek here.
Uplifting and inspiring the community – Okta
"Okta's People of Color (POC@Okta) ERG is planning to commemorate AAPI Month with a series of fireside chats and iconographical facts posted internally in the #poc and #all diversity Slack channels! These chats will feature Dion Lim of ABC7 News and Comedian/Actor, Ronny Chieng. We will conclude the series with a partnership with Pride@Okta featuring supermodel, TED speaker, and transgender advocate Geena Rocero. The goal of this series is to educate, uplift, support, and inspire! The Okta leadership supports its AAPI employees, customers, and community."
Learn more about Okta here.
Empowering cultural diversity and leadership – Quip
"Salesforce will be celebrating through multiple virtual events, such as a leadership panel on the power of cultural diversity, a tea tasting, a tai chi class, a haka workshop, and more! Members of the Quip team have also compiled an extensive list of resources to support AAPI communities, including ways to donate, take action, and learn more."
Learn more about Quip here.
Focusing on lived experiences – Mindbody
"The Mindbody United ERG focuses on a different heritage or history each month, with May devoted to Asian & Pacific Islander Heritage Month. This ERG seeks to provide a platform to both celebrate and learn together. This will manifest in two ways: As a newsletter and a Zoom meeting. The newsletter will feature contributions directly from team members, while the meeting will feature Assembly member Evan Low as our speaker. It is our goal to focus on the lived experiences of the AAPI community, address discrimination, and how to chase after the part of the world we can make better."
Learn more about Mindbody here.
Promoting harmony and unity – T. Rowe Price
"T. Rowe Price is aware and appalled at the recent spike in hate crimes against the Asian community. In response, the firm will center Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month efforts around harmony and unity, in alignment with the Hawaiian value, Lōkahi – Forward as One. To share best practices, successes and areas of opportunities, T. Rowe Price will co-host a Leadership Panel on Asian Leadership Challenges with Baltimore Asian Connect, a consortium of Asian business resource group leaders at local corporations. The firm will also host a book club and restorative listening circles for Asian American associates and their allies."
Learn more about T. Rowe Price here.
Celebrating Asians globally
"May is Asian Pacific American (APA) Heritage Month. Although traditionally a US celebration, at Autodesk we are celebrating Asians globally. The Autodesk Asian Network is hosting Innovative Leaders, including Lori Mukoyama and Jonathan Zee. Lori Mukoyama is redefining experience-driven design globally at Gensler. Jonathan Zee has an extensive portfolio of buildings that are helping to shape cities around the world at Goettsch Partners. Lori and her husband Jonathan combine design, architecture and engineering in their work while simultaneously manage a family together during this pandemic. This event is hosted by AAN, as part of a monthlong series of APA Heritage Month events."
Learn more about AutoDesk here.
📼 The recap for our amazing Tech For Social Impact summit is here! Watch the video to get a quick look of some of the most insightful quotes from our brilliant speakers.
💾 The Tech for Social Impact Summit centered on inspiring stories - and some warning tales - showcasing companies that were founded to create positive social impact. From EdTech to Healthcare, we took a look at startups and established companies who properly aligned their values with their missions. This was a new opportunity to connect with your peers, share ideas, and network with company representatives from the most impactful organizations in tech.
📼 In this video, you'll hear super valuable tips from Thompson Khoo, Senior Recruitment Manager, Ashley Stewart, Senior Technical Recruiter, and Andrew Brancato, Human Resources Associate at JW Player—the leading platform for monetization of advertising in the video space.
📼 There's no magic trick for interviewing, but Andrew shares a keyword that'll help you: attitude! If you have great energy, are engaged and enthusiastic, show up as your authentic self, and are honest about your abilities and skills, you'll make a great impression on the recruitment team.
📼 Get ready: The last step of the interview process involves meeting with members of the team. Prepare for a half-day of getting to know your potential future teammates and familiarizing yourself with the role! Spoiler—JW Player is big on teamwork and offers an environment of support, transparency, and autonomy. Working on JW Player means wearing a lot of hats, which will give you the opportunity to participate in different projects, surrounded by a work culture that supports growth and development.
📼 One last key piece of advice before you go? Sending a timely "thank you" email after the interview will go a long way in helping you stand out.
🧑💼 Are you interested in joining JW Player? They have open roles! To learn more about them, click here.
How Gainsight’s Danielle Allwood Launched Her Dream Career in Tech With Zero Technical Experience, Thanks to CSYOU
Danielle Allwood typed "data analytics remote job" into Google and found PowerToFly.
After exploring our website, she signed up for a few webinars, including our monthly Summit series.
After attending a few events, she registered for our Virtual Job Fair.
At that Virtual Job Fair, she went to a panel hosted by customer success company, Gainsight, on their CSYOU program, a three-part program consisting of training on customer success skills; an internship in tech; and the opportunity for a full-time placement, replete with ongoing training and mentorship.
"While working part-time, I was operating on little sleep to figure out what my place would look like in tech, and with Gainsight, it came full circle," says Danielle.
She applied for CSYOU, got in, successfully completed the training and the internship, and is now a full-time Customer Success Associate at Gainsight.
Danielle's story is truly full-circle, and we were excited to get to sit down and discuss it with her. Read on for insight on how she transitioned from a non-technical career into a fulfilling role in her dream field, thanks to the barrier-breaking CSYOU program.
A way in
When Danielle first found PowerToFly, she'd been applying for roles in tech without getting anywhere.
That's what first intrigued her about the CSYOU program—it expressly stated that non-technical experience was welcome. Danielle knew that her decade of work in high-stakes event planning, with its focus on tight operations and budgets, would serve her well in a customer success situation, so when she saw Gainsight was a partner of PowerToFly, she decided to apply. "I knew if they were partnering with you, I could trust I'd be in good hands," she explains.
The second thing that she loved about the CSYOU opportunity was that they were especially seeking underrepresented individuals. "It's extremely common for someone of color to look online, navigate an industry, find a company within that industry, and then they go and look for pictures of people in that particular company," says Danielle. "And when you don't see a lot of people who look like you or any at all, you begin to wonder if they think that you're of value." Seeing that Gainsight valued inclusion from the get-go was important to Danielle, as was the opportunity to use data analytics to support others.
"I like the process of understanding the behavior of individuals and providing them the resources that they need to be successful in their journey by using both quantitative and qualitative [data]," she says. "That's why I'm really interested in data analytics—you can look at the data and have a more precise perspective of how individuals reach their decisions, change their decisions, and what led them to the decisions in the first place."
Danielle is proof that even skills that may not seem immediately relevant to tech can make a big impact. Looking back, she cites her experience taking her event planning clients from ideation to execution of an event as the perfect foundation for the customer success lifecycle: "It's taking them from end to end, taking care of them," she says.
That's a value that she applies to herself, too. One of Danielle's personal favorite self-care practices is yoga. "It reduces my anxiety and keeps me present not only in the workplace, but with myself," she says.
The calm, centered approach to problem-solving that Danielle deployed in events (and also brings to the yoga mat) served her well as she transitioned from her month-long training into her internship placement– especially when it came to prioritization.
After finishing her training, Danielle and her CSYOU cohort all filled out a survey identifying what niches they were most interested in working with, from edtech to marketing tech to customer success. Danielle says she was "floored" to be placed with Gainsight.
Now, on a normal day in her full-time role, Danielle contributes her time to scaling support ticket backlog, analyzing ticket metrics and collaborating with teams to create seamless product functionality for a better customer experience. . Everyday can look different; a lot of threads to keep track of and people to coordinate with, but Danielle says the coaching she received both in CSYOU and on the job has helped her learn how to unstick the toughest problems first and to move slowly but steadily towards bigger, but less urgent, goals. She likens her current approach to figuring out how to launch a basketball towards the basket before the shot clock ticks down, describing her key steps as:
- Look at an overview of the project
- Understand the problem or challenge
- "Don't worry about having an A-to-Z plan to tackle it; however, start with what is your desired outcome, as A!" !"
Part of figuring out how to prioritize has been learning how to communicate her own prioritization to others, and to keep their different perspectives front-of-mind, too. "It's very important, when you open your mouth and decide to speak on something that's important to you, to ask yourself, 'For the person that's on the receiving end, why would it be important to them?'" she says.
"The support is unreal," says Danielle. "I have never worked for an organization like Gainsight that matches the support that I had in the CSYOU program, where no matter how many questions you have, no matter what you do not know, there is space for you," says Danielle. Specifically, she's leaned on:
- Weekly office hours where she can ask questions of more senior individuals
- Regular 1-on-1 meetings with her manager
- And an automated feature that matches up Gainsight employees for coffee chats (or Danielle's favorite, milk-and-cookie meetups)
Taken together, Danielle has found the support she needs to succeed in a career she's long dreamed of. "That is so utterly important because it allows you to thrive in a way that you could have never have imagined if those opportunities weren't available," she says.
With less than a year under her belt as an official Gainsight employee, Danielle has already found herself presenting to the company during Black History Month and has had the opportunity to lead yoga sessions during Gainsight's big Pulse Everywhere conference.
"The human-first value they talk quite a bit about is definitely true," says Danielle. "The win at being human-first is that I naturally found an organization that matched and aligned with my spirit. For instance, creating opportunities for other people who don't look like you is humongous, because it creates diverse thought leadership and a company that is able to do things in a really impactful and positive way.."
Now, Danielle is focused on succeeding in operationalizing outcomes in her support role and ideally continuing to grow into a leadership position where she will be able to work on cross-departmental projects to make Gainsight as a whole more scalable..
She has one piece of advice for others thinking about applying to CSYOU, especially those like her who don't have a particularly tech-focused resume: "No matter what your background is, it is possible for you to make an impact in tech," she says. "I say impact versus work because a lot of people can go to a nine to five, but there's not always opportunities to create impact. But with hard work and seizing the right opportunity, trust me, you'll get there. It doesn't matter if you're a baggage handler at an airport or restaurant host—going through the CSYOU program, it's possible."
If Gainsight's culture interests you, check out their open roles or apply directly to their CSYOU program!
Insight from Helix's Jess Rossman
For Jess Rossman, 2020 was underscored by one consistent theme: change.
"Unfortunately, I was part of a COVID-related layoff," Jess explains. "I've had a lot of different life changes happen over the past year."
Just prior to the pandemic, Jess's girlfriend of four years asked her and her daughter to move in. When lockdowns began across the country, Jess was faced not only with a move and the challenge of blending two families (Jess's girlfriend has two young children of her own), but with managing a household in the new "normal" of the pandemic. "I had become a step-mom, fully responsible for three kids and two dogs, homeschooling, and interviewing for new jobs all within a few months," Jess explains.
We sat down with Jess to hear how she managed so many pivotal changes at once, including starting a new role as a Senior Technical Sourcer at personal genomics company Helix. Read on to hear how she found Helix and learned to set new boundaries in her personal and professional life because, as Jess says, "If things aren't going right at home, they're not going to go right at work, and vice versa."
Silver linings: Jess's path to Helix
After being laid off, Jess reached out to her network and connected with a former colleague who had recently begun at Helix as the Head of Recruiting. "She told me she was starting to grow the team and was interested in having me join."
Jess was excited to dive into the world of biotechnology, but she was especially excited to work for an organization that would understand her responsibilities as a parent. "It was a really difficult year and I wanted to be somewhere where I felt safe to be able to ramp up on a role," Jess explains. "I knew that my manager was a single parent and knows exactly how difficult it can be."
It wasn't just the opportunity to work with great, supportive people that appealed to Jess. "It was a full circle moment, losing a job due to a pandemic, and then being able to join a company that was trying to help people during this pandemic with COVID testing," she says.
6 tips for navigating new roles at home and at work
Once she joined Helix and ramped up in her new roles as stepmom, homeschool instructor, and senior sourcer, Jess quickly discovered that she'd need to create some new boundaries in order to find balance while working from home.
Jess's partner is an ER nurse, so her stepkids "were used to having parent time when their mom came home from work."
"They weren't accustomed to having an adult in the house working and not really available," Jess explains. "There were times in the beginning where they would finish school around 2:30pm and they would just lay there on the floor around me."
Working, living, and homeschooling in one shared space, Jess had to learn to adjust her routine to find a balance that worked for herself, her colleagues, her partner, and her kids.
If you're navigating a new work situation, especially while working and parenting from home, here's what Jess says worked well for her (though she admits it's still a work in progress!):
- Set clear expectations — "We set some rules and my step-daughter made a sign for me to alert people in the house when I was in a meeting or working."
- Be open with your colleagues — "We're all parents on the team, which helped with communication. We share stories about what's going on at home or things coming up with the kids," says Jess. This makes it easier for her to ask for an occasional favor when mom duty calls. For example when a calendar glitch double booked her for a call while she would be at her daughter's 13th birthday dinner, she reached out to her team to explain the situation and someone took the call for her. "I sometimes feel bad, but the secret to figuring out how to juggle everything has been just trying to communicate both on the family side and on the work side."
- Be kind to yourself — Between school pick ups and drop offs, work meetings, and family time, Jess found herself struggling to juggle all of her responsibilities. She had to give herself grace and find ways to balance work and home life. "I realized I can't be a super person,'' she says."I have to remind myself that I can't do it all and that I'm not burdening anyone by asking for help."
- Prioritize your tasks, publicly — Jess' solution to juggling all of her 'to-dos' is to prioritize work tasks and block off family time in her calendar. "I mark off my calendar and make sure that people know when I have parenting time."
- Don't be afraid to utilize new tools — "My girlfriend and I weren't planning on putting the kids in afterschool care when it opened back up, but knowing that it was just really hard for me to get stuff done, they experienced after-school care for the first time." A few hours of a child-free home were a game changer for Jess's productivity.
- Keep things in perspective — While she's still trying to navigate all of these new roles, Jess has found some perks to working from home. "On some days, I want to pull my hair out, but we've gradually gotten into a rhythm and figured out how to work around each other." Spending more time with her daughter has also been a huge win. "I've actually never had so much time with my own kid, which is crazy to me," she says. "I had been missing out on so much and I'm enjoying getting to know her a little bit better and having a little bit more closeness with her than I had before."
Looking to do impactful work with a team of supportive colleagues? Check out Helix's open roles.