September 2018
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TD Magazine

Word Wiz: Returnship

Friday, August 31, 2018

When someone leaves the workforce, whether to take care of a loved one, become a parent, or just take a much-needed break, returning can be difficult. Managers may hesitate to hire someone with an employment gap. Reacclimating to the grind of professional life can get in the way of success.

These challenges are why some companies have introduced a new concept: a returnship.


The Muse defines a returnship as "essentially an internship that helps adults who have taken time away from their careers and are interested in re-entering the workforce." Lasting for a limited period of time, it typically helps re-entering employees sharpen their skills and readjust to working life.

During a returnship program, participants often will have an opportunity to earn a full-time position. If not, they still add fresh experience to their resumes, which makes it easier to get in the door somewhere else.

Many prominent organizations—including Microsoft, Apple, Northrop Grumman, and Goldman Sachs—offer these programs, often for one or both of two reasons. First, returnships can help companies improve diversity by helping women resume their careers, which more often are disrupted by caring for children or parents than are men's careers. Second, they can help organizations tap into unconventional talent pools, casting a wider net for the right people to push them past the competition.

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

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