For scale and effectiveness, no other initiative has proven to be more exciting than mid-career reentry internship programs.
Fast Company just released this article noting Goldman's Returnship® program didn't hire any of its 2016 participants. An interesting observation, except that it’s wrong. Once again, Goldman is hiring roughly half of its Returnship® class, and the numbers we are seeing from our direct involvement with return-to-work internships indicates just the opposite of what the article suggests. More and more companies are offering returning professional internship programs…because they work.
The "conversion rates" (the percentage of interns offered permanent positions) among the Wall Street/financial services returning professional internship programs run consistently at roughly 50% to 90%. Early indications from the STEM reentry internship programs (more on them below) are skewing toward the higher end of that range. The number of companies with returning professional internship programs is growing because they solve two key problems – how to assess a candidate with a large resume gap, and how to tap a new pool of talent when great talent is so hard to find.
At iRelaunch we work closely with all of the Wall Street programs - from Goldman's pioneering Returnship® program to UBS' recently announced revival of its Career Comeback program. Our annual Return-to-Work Conference is the largest feeder to the Wall Street programs. In addition, we co-lead the STEM Reentry Task Force with the Society of Women Engineers, in which seven engineering-based companies, including some of the world’s largest, are piloting reentry internship programs for returning engineers. IBM and GM, two of the Task Force companies that have completed pilots, are already expanding their programs across business lines, domestically and internationally, and will run second cohorts before the end of the calendar year.
We are also bringing the STEM Reentry Task Force model to other industry sectors and professional associations because having groups of companies pilot returning professional internship programs at the same time is a powerful workforce-development tool. For a 12-minute summary of relaunching and reentry internships, see my TED talk "How to get back to work after a career break," which has been viewed over one million times and translated into 21 languages.
We are working on a whole range of strategies for reintegrating professionals on career break back into the workforce. But for scale and effectiveness, none has proven to be more exciting than the reentry internship programs.