When my children were born, I put my career on hold to take care of them. After more than four years, I decided I was ready to return work … but was anxious that after so much time away, it would be an uphill battle.
That all changed when I attended Visa's Ready to Return program in 2016. This annual conference helps address challenges that professionals face when returning to the workforce after a break, and provides resources to help with that transition, including resume building, interview skills, networking with recruiters and access to hiring managers. That life-changing experience led me to a full-time job at Visa, and I haven't looked back.
I found out about Ready to Return from a very good friend of mine who works for Visa. When participating in the program, the first thing that struck me was that I was not alone. There were many women and men who, like me, had taken breaks, and we're now ready to go back.
One of the first things that the summit taught me was not to be apologetic about taking the break. Before I joined the Ready to Work program, whenever I was in interviews, I used to do a lot of explaining and over-explaining that I had to take a mom break. After the program, my tone immediately changed. I wouldn't even approach the subject in an interview. Instead, my conversations were very much about my skills, about technology. If the person asked about my gap, I would confidently say, "Yes, I took a mom break, but now I'm here." I also enjoyed the practice sessions on answering questions like, "Tell me about yourself" and how to approach phone interviews and face-to-face interviews.
These skills, training and connections led me to a career journey at Visa. Today, I am a QA Engineer with the Digital + Mobile Product Development team. Our team focuses on making payments via mobile phones a seamless experience. Our team owns the Android SDK code that is integrated to the Visa Token Services, and we enable issuers to build their own applications while we manage security, storage and the payment. It's a niche innovative field to work on, and I am as humbled as I am excited to be a part of it.
My return has definitely impacted the way I work. I now value my time more. Now, every minute I spend working is of very high value because it's time away from my kids. I take my work very seriously, and I'm much more organized. And because I have this clear focus, I feel like I'm doing better work now.
My overall piece of advice for others looking to return is that you don't have to do this alone. There are many people out there who will help you and want to help you succeed.
I owe a lot to the Ready to Return program. It's been a great experience. Absolutely. Some of the information that came out in the program was not new to me, but it reinforced for me that I was in the right direction. That was very powerful for me.