No two career journeys are the same. Some people spend years in the same field or industry, while others make a transition to try something new. Some professionals step away from work for a period of time to pursue passions or focus on their personal life and decide to return later.
No matter the unique circumstance, making a career shift can be a challenge. Pathway Programs, such as the Facebook company’s Return to Work Program, effectively provide valuable training, and support for those easing into a new role. Read on to learn about how Facebook empowers skilled professionals to continue their careers, what the Return to Work Program is like, and where three graduates found the most value in their experience.
Empowering skilled professionals to continue their careers.
Facebook’s Return to Work Program was designed to help lead experienced professionals who have been away from work for two years or more back into the workforce. The 16-week immersive program brings a group of participants—called returners—from different career paths together to serve as a supportive peer group for one another throughout the experience.
Additionally, each participant is partnered up with an experienced manager for mentorship and has opportunities to solve complex, real-world problems while impacting. At the end of the paid program, participants who have showcased the ability to succeed are considered for a full-time position.
“I was drawn to Facebook’s Return to Work Program because it offered me the opportunity to explore a brand new career path,” Sammy Z., a data scientist at WhatsApp, explains. “Before the program, I worked at a biotech company as a scientist. Though I worked on precision medicine for cancer patients and loved helping people, I wanted to make an even bigger impact. So, I decided to explore a new industry.”
“I was able to acquire domain knowledge and learn quickly,” she continues. “Right from the start, I felt supported by each recruiter I talked to and interviewed with. During the program, I had incredible support from my team, established cross-functional relationships, and made many friends. Everyone was so helpful! When I graduated, I felt confident in showcasing my expertise in a new focus area.”
Sammy Z., a data scientist at WhatsApp, is a Facebook Return to Work program graduate.
Embracing diverse perspectives and non-traditional career paths.
Lakshmi C., a data engineer, had more than a decade of experience when she decided to step away from her job to care for her family. “During my break, I took bootcamps and courses and thought about my future options. Once I started looking for opportunities, one of my friends told me about the Return to Work program. Around the same time, Facebook also reached out to me! I was excited because I wanted to get into more data-centric roles, and this really felt like the right opportunity at the right time.”
For Meredith A., a program manager, returning to work after spending five years working in wellness reignited her professional passion. “I worked in HR for nine years before deciding to pursue my love for health and fitness. When I first struck my own as a personal trainer, I loved setting my own schedule and having the flexibility to care for my kids—I thought I’d never want to work in a corporate environment again! Then, one day while talking with a client, I realized that something was missing,” she shares. “I was ready to participate in a complex problem-solving environment—something that challenged me regularly and required me to grow my skill sets to resolve big picture problems. Facebook’s Return to Work Program was the first return to work program I applied to and heard back from. I was scared and excited. I didn’t know it yet, but I was in for the best ride of my life.”
Sammy, Lakshmi, and Meredith say that the encouragement and close collaboration they experienced during the program stood out. “I remember feeling like, ‘Your success is our success too,” Lakshmi recalls. “Even in the program, everyone worked together as a team. I had feelings of imposter syndrome when I was coming back to work, and Facebook’s supportive culture helped me overcome that.”
Lakshmi C. working from home as a Facebook data engineer while managing distance learning curricula for her two kids.
Re-engaging your talents and skills.
Now working with future returners in her role as a program manager for the Return to Work Program, Meredith says she’s come full circle. “It feels so good to use my relationship-building and communication skills in this capacity again,” she notes. “Every person and team can make a big impact. I never thought a job like this would exist. I’m so happy with what I’m doing now.”
Lakshmi shares Meredith’s enthusiasm for tapping into her professional strengths again and says that the skills she learned during the program and while working at Facebook have helped her grow. “My work is highly technical, but our team is customer-oriented, too,” she explains. “We talk with many internal teams, and we need to understand their data-centric and infrastructure problems. I’ve learned that being a good listener is incredibly important.”
Meredith, Lakshmi, and Sammy offer the same advice for anyone interested in exploring a return to work program: Just apply. “We’re looking for you,” Meredith encourages. “If you think we’re not looking for you, that’s the only thing you’re wrong about. We’re interested in you and what your skills are.”
“You owe yourself the chance,” Lakshmi adds. “Give it your best shot and know that no matter what, you’ll learn something from experience. You don’t have anything to lose.”
Meredith A., a graduate of the Facebook Return to Work program, is a full-time program manager and mother of two.
Learn more and apply
Are you thinking about returning to work? Facebook will begin accepting applications for its Spring 2021 Pathway Programs class in December 2020. Learn more about the Return to Work Program and apply.
Listen to the iRelaunch podcast featuring Facebook's VP of Recruiting, Miranda Kalinowski.