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EP 236: Applying to and Participating in the JP Morgan Chase ReEntry Program with Cedric Layton

A smiling headshot photo of Cedric Layton in a suit and tie

Episode Description

Cedric Layton is the Global ReEntry Program Co-Ordinator at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., responsible for all facets of their long running, rapidly growing, global career ReEntry Program - including all executive champions, managers, other internal stakeholders and especially the relauncher "Fellows" themselves. We discuss what to expect when applying to and participating in the ReEntry Program, and the major features of the program.

The ReEntry Program is one of the oldest career reentry programs, having launched in 2013. Fellows from the earliest cohorts are now senior enough to be managing the newest participants, something we could only dream about back in 2007 when iRelaunch was founded.

Read Transcript

Carol Fishman Cohen: Welcome to 3,2,1 iRelaunch, the podcast where we discuss return to work strategies, advice, and success stories. I'm Carol Fishman Cohen, CEO and co-founder of iRelaunch and your host. Today we welcome Cedric Layton. Cedric is the Global Reentry Program Coordinator at JP Morgan Chase, responsible for all facets of their long running rapidly growing global career reentry program end to end, including all executive champions, managers, other internal stakeholders, and especially the relauncher participants themselves.

The ReEntry Program is structured as a fellowship, which we will discuss, as well as other important details about re-entry. Cedric, welcome to 3,2,1 iRelaunch.

Cedric Layton: Thank you for having me, Carol. I always look forward to an opportunity to talk about our returnship program here at JP Morgan Chase.

Carol Fishman Cohen: We're really excited to have you and to hear all the details and maybe that's a good place to start.

Could you please give us a brief history and description of the JP Morgan Chase Reentry program? I know it's one of the older career re-entry programs.

Cedric Layton: Yes. And our program, it's actually a 15 week fellowship and it's designed to attract highly accomplished individuals who are currently on a career break of two year or more. And at the time of separation from the workforce, they were at the associate or vice-president level. And for those who are not in the finance industry, that's really your entry level management positions. And through a combination of work experience, training, mentorship, the participants in the program gained the industry knowledge and insight needed in order to have successful long-term careers here at the firm. As Carol said, our program actually launched back in 2013.

We started with the grand total of 186 applications. I know that's not much. And from that 196, we selected 10 and they were all actually based in New York that year. Fast forward to our last program we completed, which was our 2021 class. We had an 120 participants and they were selected from a grand total of more than 4,500 applications. We like to say that because it lets them know just how unique especially are when they get selected for the program. And they participated in more than 17 locations all around the globe that we have here at the firm. And that's participation in multiple states within the United States. Participation in the United Kingdom, multiple countries in Europe, we have participation in India, in Singapore, Hong Kong, and for the first time, last year in Latin America.

Carol Fishman Cohen: I remember when the re-entry program launched back in 2013 and to hear about the evolution and growth of the program, over time to where you are today is really outstanding. So it's so exciting to hear about it.

Cedric, can you give us a little bit more detail in terms of when does the program run? Is it run at the same time every year? When are applications open and a little bit more information about whether that's different, depending on if you're in different parts of the world or if you're in the US? Right.

Cedric Layton: And a great question, Carol, and for our program, it's actually international and we run it once a year. And the great thing about our program, too no matter if you're here in Dallas, Texas, where I'm at, or if you are in the United Kingdom, you're going to go through the same program experience. That's the way we have it planned.

And now your time zones would be a little different, but your experience will be exactly the same. And we usually start our planning for our program. I know that we run it once a year, but we usually start planning for it right around the August, September timeframe, because that's when we were starting to reach out to our head of talent acquisitions or executive recruiters, just start looking for support sponsors for fellows during the coming class. We officially launch our program in October and that's when we get the great opportunity to work with our relaunch partner and to market our program. And then right around the October, up to mid January timeframe, that's when we're going through what we call our sourcing and screening process.

So we're accepting applications for the different roles that we have available. And then our great recruiting staff are going through and screening those applications to find out who are the best potential candidates. From that point, then what we do is once we identify the best candidates for the roles we have available, then they start the placement as far as figuring out which role should be the right fit and the onboarding process for those candidates. And that usually ends right around mid to late February timeframe because our actual program, part of it officially kicks off, it's usually the first week, second week of March.

And then that's when they actually come on board as ReEntry Program participants and then they go through some training and then they actually going to join their teams and work through that 15 week.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Cedric, when you were talking about the roles that people got matched with roles, do they actually apply for a specific role or a role category or they do, they apply for the program and then you match them internally.

Cedric Layton: And that's a great question. It's actually really a combination, but that's what we do is, we actually work with our recruiters, and that starts with the program team who in turn work with managers to identify roles. And then once they identify roles that they have available and they want to fill those with a reentry program participant, then the recruiters work with the managers to actually create a detailed job requisition.

So it would be the same requisition you would see had you applied for a, just a normal full-time hire, any one of them. The difference is, like I say, why is it's a combination? Is it's upfront in that particular requisition, number one, we identified as a reentry program participation role, right? So they know it's a 15 week program internship, and it's also advertised on our careers page for the reentry program.

So anyone who is interested in the program, we actually direct to our ReEntry page on our career site, that way they're seeing all the opportunities that we have available within the program. And if they click on a particular requisition, they can actually look at that requisition, give them an idea of number one, where the role is going to be, cause that's important, and also gives them an idea of what type of experience that we're looking forward to field the role and what kind of qualifications. That way they can make sure they're applying for the right role.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Can you give us a couple of examples of actual roles that might be part of the program?

Cedric Layton: Sure. We have roles that range from front office positions, where you're looking at treasury roles in finance, roles and operation side. We also had roles in risk and compliance. We have roles in human resources.

We have roles in our audit department, roles in our legal department. And one of our bigger role or I guess, collection of roles that we usually have each year, is it our technology space. And I know that these are really, I would call them headers because within each one of those categories, you can have sub roles that you can apply for as well.

So like in technology, for example, you could be a data platforms person, or you can be a program manager. So they have different opportunities within each one of those headers that I just referenced earlier.

Carol Fishman Cohen: This program, ReEntry is so long running and so broad across so many functional areas in lines of business, that there is incredible opportunity.

As you can hear what Cedric is talking about, that, there's a lot of different types of roles. JP Morgan Chase is a Wall Street firm, a financial services organization, but inside they are all these different functional areas that are not all finance. So just wanted to call that out and also, I want to mention, you mentioned our partnership with, JP Morgan Chase being a sponsor of our iRelaunch Return to Work Conference. And I just want to acknowledge that ReEntry and JP Morgan Chase have been a sponsor of our conference for years now. So it's really, we have watched this program evolve over time, from that vantage point.

Cedric, can you give us a little more information about the recruiting process itself? I know you walked through some of the timing, but on the, like, how many interviews are there and what kinds of interviews are there and what can people expect if they put in an application and they actually move forward in, in your recruiting process?

Cedric Layton: And a part of the recruiting process, like I said, we have a great group of recruiters that step up and say, they want to run the program and find the right candidates and fits for the roles that we have available. So they work closely with the managers who have raised their hand and say they want to sponsor a fellow for the program class.

And then they work with that manager to create those job requisitions that I just referenced a minute ago, and then open the roles and list those roles on our ReEntry Program. Specific career. And then when we market our program, that's what we direct anyone who's interested in a potential opportunity with the firm.

We direct them to that career site and they can go and they can search the job by role by, if they want to look finance or technology so they can search it like that as well. And then once they click on a requisition that they find interesting, then they would apply for it. And this is just like any other full-time role you're looking for on any other career side, you search it, find the role you're interested in click the apply button. Then that gets a notification sent to the recruiter who is assigned to that specific requisition. And then they look at all the candidates that they get. Normally there's a resume, I think we, some people term it as a CV attached to the application that they receive.

The recruiters actually do a great job of diligently reviewing those. And then they'd find out who has the right, background, experience, that they need for that role in order, not only to contribute to the firm. The goal is to make sure that this person who's coming on board has a real opportunity to be successful.

So they do a great job of making sure they vet those applications that come in. I think I said we've received over 4,500 applications for our class last year and only 120 got selected. That's because the recruiters did an incredible job of screening those, finding the right fit, getting with the manager, having discussions, then they schedule interviews with the manager.

The manager gets a chance to actually interact with the potential candidate. And then, there could be a possible follow-up interview with someone else on a manager's team just to reconfirm, but it's no different than if you came for a career opportunity that wasn't a part of ReEntry.

So you got to go through the exact same process. And then once they identify that person, they'll reach out to the person, let them know that, Hey, we would love for you to participate in our program this year. And then they will provide them with an offer letter and hopefully, fingers crossed, they accept the offer that we give them, and then they are really ready to start with their internship.

Carol Fishman Cohen: That's super helpful, and obviously the numbers you're talking about, it's incredibly competitive to get into this program. I have to say, I love that you call the participants Fellows. There's, there's a prestige or professionalism that is attached to being, being called a Fellow, that is, it feels really, appropriate.

And I just, I love that nomenclature. Can we talk a little bit more about preparation. Now we've just, people see from the numbers you're talking about how competitive this program is to get into. So is there any kind of technical or other preparation that you would recommend people go through if they're anticipating they're going to apply for ReEntry? And maybe, can you comment for those who are applying for certain technical roles, do they need to take some kind of a timed coding test or other kind of technical exam?

Cedric Layton: No. And for technical roles, I'll touch on that first. There's no specific criteria or preparation you have to do to apply for the program. What I will say is that once you apply, depending on what the role is, especially in the technology space, there could be like, Carol referenced, it could be a followup test as a part of the interview process that they may ask you to do, just to confirm, where your skillsets are and make sure they're putting you into the right opportunities so you can be successful. But the great thing about the program is once you come on board and you are a reentry program fellow here at the firm, you'll get orientation training, just get you acclimated with the firm and how we do things, our our acronyms that we use, as so many firms use and some of the terminology. You'll get exposed to that. But also as if you are in a technology role, you'll get some additional training during our orientation week, but the bulk of the training that you'll get, and this is no matter whether you're in a technology role or non-technology role. Is once you join your team. Any type of operations or preparations that you'll need in order to be successful in your role, you will get that training once you are joined with your team, and it's no different than if you were just an employee coming in that applied and came in without going through our regional program, you'll have the same exact. I will be happy to brag about and say, but if you come through Re-entry, you're giving it a little bit of extra care and attention from our program team, because we want to make sure that you are ready to go day one when you join your team.

And I think our success rates speaks to how that has actually worked.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Cedric, can you give us some more detail on the performance or the track record of the ReEntry program over time?

Cedric Layton: Sure, like I said, our program launched in 2013. at the time we only had 10 participants and we received 186 applications and those 10 participants all work in one location, which was New York. Fast-forward Toronto last class that we actually completed, which was 2021, we received 4,500 plus applications. And out of that 4,500 plus we selected 120 to participate in the program. And they were actually spread out in 17 locations around the globe. And our program participants are actually in multiple states within the United States in the United Kingdom, multiple countries within Europe.

They had some participants in India, participants in Singapore and Hong Kong. for the first time we had participation in Latin America.

Carol Fishman Cohen: And can you talk about how many people have been in the programs since inception? And give us a sense of what the conversion rate is of the people who are in the program?

Cedric Layton: Sure. Since the inception of the program, back in 2013, we've had 371 program participants go through and out of that 371, our conversion rate was 84 percent.

Carol Fishman Cohen: And I just want to mention to our audience when Cedric's talking about conversion rate, that means what percentage of the people who participate in the program were hired at the end of the program.

And, I have to comment that with a program that started in 2013 and has so much history, and you have 371 people who've gone through it, the idea that people in the earlier cohorts have been there long enough to now have been, have raises and promotions over time. Are some of those people now in a position where they're actually managers themselves and have new Re-entry fellows working for them?

Cedric Layton: Yes. And actually we have to say, I think we talk about our program criteria where you we're looking for the entry-level managers, so that's the vice-president and, people who have come into the program at that level are now in our upper and middle management levels, which are executive directors and managing directors.

And they are now in a position where they have actually sponsored fellows. I know we have some for this year's programming. We had some sponsoring fellows for last year's program. So it really has come full circle from them being a program fellow, when they first came on board with the firm, to now being in a position where they can actually sponsor new fellows coming in to the new program.

Carol Fishman Cohen: For me to hear that, and think about way back in 2005, 2006, when Vivian Rabin and I were writing our book, called Back on the Career Track, it came out in 2007 about what the future might look like, this was the dream, that there would be relaunchers that were inside organizations long enough that they actually became managers of new relaunchers coming in.

And that's exactly what you're describing. And it's really exciting. And I'm so thrilled for everyone to hear that you have reached that point with the ReEntry Program. I want to go back to one question regarding preparation and this reflects my own experience when I was relaunching, cause I'm a financial analyst by trade.

And I remember when I was interviewing, of course, I was interviewing back in 2001 before there was such a thing as a program. So it was very different process, but I remember being very hung up on, are they going to ask me how to calculate the weighted average cost of capital, like right there, when everyone's watching me and giving me these samples, numbers to calculate or different capital structures.

So for the finance roles, is there, is that process any different in terms of preparation or what's involved in the actual interview?

Cedric Layton: Like, if there's anything additional involved in that process again, like I was talking about with the technology roles and this could be other roles within the headers that I talked about, like HR and other things like that, it depends on what the role is and what the requirements are for the role.

They may ask during the interview process, if you have some type of experience or knowledge, and then they will actually, once they make the selection of the candidate that they want, they've already vetted, they know they have the right criteria, the right skill sets and everything like that. Then just like any other new employee joining the team, there's going to be some new hire training that they will have to go through. Some of that will be firm-wide training that everyone goes through, but other things will be role specific training that they'll have to go through. So they have plans in place that once you to join your team, that will get you up to speed on what, because like I say, the technologies, the terminologies, the acronyms are different from the firm, so having that training in place, once you're on board, it makes sense and that's what you have to go through.

Carol Fishman Cohen: All right. So that's very helpful. Can we talk a little bit more about level? So I know you said associate or VP level is typical when people convert. You have so many roles now that are part of the program. Are they all around the same level or do they do some of them include different number of years of work experience required?

And if so, what is that range?

Cedric Layton: Right, from a work experience requirement, again, that's something that's defined inside the job requisition that they would apply for it. So the candidate, when they're applying, they'd have to look at, it's just like any other application, you'll have work experience in years, or they're asking for an equivalent, you have degree requirements and things like that.

So there's no different than any other job application that you're looking at. And then what'll happen is as much, like I say, once you're on board, then they will help you get up to speed on our JP Morgan platforms and technologies and processes. So you'll get that training once you're onboard.

I guess the focus really from an experience standpoint is really, you have to look at the application, say the managers and recruiters work together to do a great job of defining what that requisition should look like. So when you're looking at that, just like any other job application, just make sure that you're applying for a role that you have the right experience for.

And then once you apply for that role, right? Once you, if you are accepted into the program, just know that, you're going to get some training and support on how we do things here at the firm, that may be a little different from what you've done in the past. Again, like I said before, with the technology, when we talked about that, there could be some additional testing questions or some additional things they have to have you go through as a part of that recruiting interview process, but know that if you're getting into that point, they've done a great job of vetting you first, and then they will work with you once you come on board to catch up the speed to anything you may be lacking in, especially if you're a candidate, they have invested in. So they're going to make sure they give you everything you need to be successful because at the end of the day, that makes the firm successful.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Got it. And here's one question as a follow-up, it has to do with the program being global and running all at the same time. Does that mean people are in one big global cohort or are they in sub cohorts depending on what country they're in?

Cedric Layton: And guess the best way to answer that is yes and no, they are in a, they are in a global cohort.

So when they come on board, for instance, 2022 ReEntry Program Fellows, you're all of that cohort. You all received the same information. You all received the same training plan. You all received the same, introduction, welcomes or everything is the same. Then you become regional cohorts when you get to like your orientation week.

And the reason we have to do it that way is because the time differences. We have, we have a group that's in north America, which is the United States and Canada. They're, they'll be all in a group together, go through their training in orientation week. And then we have a group in the, we call it the AMEA region.

So that's Europe, Africa, Asia, and those areas, they'll be in a group, and they'll go through their training. And then you have our, what we call our APAC region. So that's Asia, India fall into that umbrella. They'll go through a training. So it's on their time zone schedule, but everyone's doing the exact same thing from a program standpoint.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Got it. All right. Thank you for clarifying that. So Cedric, we're coming up to the end of our time together, and I wanted to ask you the question that we ask all of our podcasts, guests. And that is what is your best piece of advice for our relauncher audience? Even if it's something that we've already talked about.

Cedric Layton: Thank you Carol, and I guess my final thought, and what I want to do is say too, is I don't think I mentioned this at the beginning is that we actually launched our 2022 program class like two weeks ago. So I literally just finished orientation week yesterday. And one of the things during the closing of that orientation week, I met with all of our reentry program fellows here in North America, and one thing I said, a couple of things I said to them, and I think that's what my final advice would be.

A lot of times you're coming in, back into the firm, back in and you're relaunching your career, and there's a lot of anxiety, a lot of questioning, sometimes some doubts. And what I told the fellows in the closing of our orientation week, two things: be confident in what you bring to the table. Because you have to remember that you were selected from all of those who applied for a reason. So make sure you remember that. And then another thing I told them is that be patient. Because you won't know everything upfront. You're going to have some stumbles. You're going to have some doubts, but just trust in the process. And most importantly, trust in the support that you have around you.

Carol Fishman Cohen: I love that advice, especially that patient's piece, because I'm sure you've seen this just like we have, that as people progress along the weeks of the program, there is that hesitancy and just maybe some discomfort at the beginning because you're, you want to do a really good job and you're worried that maybe something isn't always going to go right.

But at a certain number of weeks in you start to see a changeover, and people have to be, we've seen it because we've seen so many cohorts progress, but people who are in the actual moment of relaunching, they haven't seen this. You don't know that's coming, but that moment does come.

Cedric Layton: Yeah. Every, everyone goes to the learning curve and there's this thing in the learning curve, they called the dip. We all go through it. No matter if you're a brand new relauncher or if you're a tenured employee, I went through the dip when I first moved into this role. And then, but I remembered those two things. I remembered I was in this role for a reason, and I remembered to be patient because I had a lot of people supported me and supporting that's the same advice that I gave to our manager classes.

Carol Fishman Cohen: That's terrific advice. Cedric, thank you so much for joining us today.

Cedric Layton: Thank you Carol, it was my pleasure.

Carol Fishman Cohen: And thanks for listening to 3,2,1 iRelaunch, the podcast where we discuss return to work strategies, advice, and success stories. I'm Carol Fishman Cohen, the CEO and co-founder of iRelaunch and your host. For more information on iRelaunch conferences and to sign up for our job board and access our return to work tools and resources, go to And if you like this podcast, be sure to rate it on Apple podcasts and your favorite podcast platform, and be sure to share this podcast with a friend on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media.

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