iRelaunch approaches this work from “both sides of the equation” - by providing tools and resources to best support the relauncher population looking to return to work and partnering closely with employers to create formal pathways back into the workforce for these grounded, educated, experienced, enthusiastic and dedicated professionals.
As the pioneering company in the career reentry space, we are at the forefront of innovation in returnship and return to work programming. Our years of experience and deep understanding of the relauncher pool and the employers looking to hire them puts us in a position to spot trends at an early stage and to influence their direction.
There have been three waves of return to work programming activity since return to work programs began in 2005, and we have been actively involved in each of them, starting in the very early stages. The first wave was driven by Wall Street and financial services, the second by tech-infused companies in a range of sectors, and we predict the third wave will be driven by the public sector, with the recently announced State of Utah’s returnship program leading the way.
Carol Fishman Cohen iRelaunch CEO and Co-founder
Why are employers interested in the relauncher talent pool? They recognize their attributes: they are educated, have great work experience, have worked on teams, with different personalities, under pressure of work deadlines. They are grounded, with a mature perspective. They are not in an exploratory stage of their careers; in fact their career breaks have given them time to reflect on whether they were on the right career path to begin with. When they return, it is after a lot of thought and deliberation about where they can add the most value to an employer.
iRelaunch was established in 2007. Founders Carol Fishman Cohen and Vivian Steir Rabin, Harvard Business School grads who had relaunched their careers in 2001 and 2000, respectively after multi-year career breaks (when no one was talking about relaunching!) worked on the earliest return to work programs in 2005 and 2006, even before founding iRelaunch.
After the 2007 publication of their book “Back on the Career Track,” dubbed the “Bible” of Career Reentry, Cohen and Rabin produced their first iRelaunch Return to Work Conference. It was held at the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management in suburban Chicago in 2008 with an audience of about 100. Accenture was the first lead sponsor of the iRelaunch Conference and continued to sponsor future conferences.
Just shy of iRelaunch’s 10 year anniversary, iRelaunch CEO and Co-founder Carol Fishman Cohen’s 2015 TEDxBeaconStreet talk was selected by the TED editors to be featured on the big TED platform in mid-2016. The talk “How to get back to work after a career break” struck a chord, packing career reentry strategies, an explanation of relauncher attributes and concerns, and a discussion about employer return to work programs, all into 12 minutes. Both a rallying cry and message of inspiration, the viral talk has been viewed over 3.6 million times, translated into 30 languages and spurred a broader conversation about career breaks and how they are perceived in the workforce. Carol’s Harvard Business Review article, “The 40-Year-Old-Intern” was the first major publication to identify internship-like experiences as an effective way for employers to hire relaunchers, and predicted the proliferation of these programs we see today.
Our Work and Impact
iRelaunch works with employers to build and expand their in-house return to work programs, produces the iRelaunch Return to Work Conferences, and leads a community of more than 94,000 "relaunchers" looking to return to work after career breaks of one to over 20 years.
iRelaunch co-leads the STEM Reentry Task Force with the Society of Women Engineers, the groundbreaking career reentry initiative in its sixth year in which program managers from 34 leading employers to date have joined for top guidance on launching return to work programs at their respective organizations. Corporate giants that have launched their return to work programs through this initiative include Johnson & Johnson, Raytheon Technologies, Apple, Northrop Grumman, Merck, P&G, IBM and Cummins. Over 700 relaunchers have participated in Task Force company programs and 84% have been hired when the programs completed.
iRelaunch CEO and Co-founder Carol Fishman Cohen is the author of the Harvard Business Review Magazine article “The 40-Year-Old Intern", regarded as the seminal article on mid-career internships, and nine additional articles for HBR online on career reentry topics.
Cohen has presented on career reentry topics more than 800 times and has been featured dozens of times in the major media. Her return to work at Bain Capital after an 11-year career break is the subject of a Harvard Business School case study and iRelaunch is the subject of a Stanford Graduate School of Business case study.
Our Mission and Vision
Today, iRelaunch is an unwavering champion of those who have temporarily left the workforce. We call them “relaunchers.”
The iRelaunch mission since our founding in 2007 is to normalize the career path that includes a career break and expose this untapped talent pool for what it is: highly educated, uniquely experienced, and extremely motivated.
Our vision is for every employer with an entry level college internship program to be running a midcareer reentry program side by side. Mainstream adoption of employer return to work programs is a key step in reaching this goal.
iRelaunch is a Certified WBENC member and WOSB