Careers

A returnship programme for STEM professionals

Photo used for representational purpose  

When Upaasana Kalia left her 15-year career in supply chain due to personal commitments, she did not expect the return trail to be beset with challenges. She was hugely mistaken.

“I was dismayed by the mindset that prevailed in some companies in hiring a new mother,” remarks Upaasana who has worked with industries like medical devices logistics and textiles. Some recruiters dwelt on the “long career break”, wondering if that would make it difficult for her to regain her professional edge.

Upaasana had no doubt that it would not — besides the exposure in various supply chain methodologies, a certification in supply chain certification was part of what bolstered her confidence.

Last year, Upaasana got a break thanks to Johnson & Johnson’s returnship programme, ‘Re-Ignite’.

Upaasana was among the six shortlisted women from a fray of 100 for this programme, which is intended to help women on a career break of 18 months or more to get back to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers.

On completion of the programme, Upaasana got hired as Site Business Excellence Lead at Ethicon Aurangabad (Medical Devices), Johnson & Johnson

Second cohort

The global programme, which India was the first to launch in the Asia Pacific, is gearing up for the second edition where shortlisted women will go through a six-month internship on projects in manufacturing, planning and supply chain management.

Sonal Jain, Enterprise Head HR and Consumer Health Head HR, Johnson & Johnson India, says Re-Ignite may not take everyone from internship to a full-time employment, and that “it is more about making them ready to come back to the workforce. Even if they choose to work in a different organisation after they complete their training, our purpose has been achieved.”

The timing of the programme is significant for a few other reasons: It was launched in the middle of the pandemic when there were more women dropping out of the workforce or losing jobs, as per reports. Besides, initiatives like this seem to help bridge the gender gap in STEM careers.

The internship includes industry-specific skill training, confidence building and fluency in key workplace tools through on-the-job learning. It also offers participants a network of support for the next phase of their career journey.

Women who have been on a career break for 18 months qualify to be part of the cohort and are selected through a screening process.

“This time, we have slightly increased the number of candidates to take 10-11 associates as we have received over 400 applications so far. We are also offering more commercial roles, that is in sales and marketing along with supply chain, manufacturing and planning,” says Sonal.

Johnson & Johnson has been reaching out to women on a break due to family commitments or those in pursuit of academics. It has partnered with women professional networks and search agencies for this purpose.

Applications for the second cohort are open till the end of July.


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Printable version | Sep 17, 2021 9:39:44 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/careers/a-returnship-programme-for-stem-professionals/article35577655.ece

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