If you need to reLaunch your career due to a gap in your work history or are simply having a hard time breaking into a STEM related field, this guide is for you.
We scoured the internet and put together a collection of the best resources for Women looking to (re)Lauch their careers and put them all in a nicely packaged Airtable database.
To make it easy for you, we also compiled a list of the things we saw consistently through each of these sites and outlined them in this article so you don't have to dive into each site.
So let's get to it!
Women's Career Relaunch Resources
Here’s the Women’s Career Relaunch Database we mentioned.
It’s a filterable database that includes the best career relaunch resources available today.
Type: STEM, general, Mom specific, disABLEd, etc
Links: website, job boards, socials, etc
What they provide: relaunch, networking, job boards, courses, etc
All of these resources have information on getting back into your field, so dive into a site if one catches your eye!
If nothing stands out, or you don’t want to have to do more research, we compiled a list of info that kept reappearing and turned it into this blog post.
First Things First: Assess Your Skills
Each resource made it pretty clear that the first thing you’ll want to do is assess where you stand in relation to your competition and any potential industry advancements. So ask yourself:
- Which of my skills are relevant to the industry?
- Have there been advancements in your specialty?
- Do I want to be in the same industry?
We recommend writing down your answers to these questions before moving on. This will make sure you are completely honest in your responses, and aren’t catering to what you start seeing online. For example:
*images from scan2cad.com
What we’re getting at there is that you may be surprised at the advancements that have taken place in the last decade and by comparing where you are now to where you should be, you’ll know exactly what you need to focus on.
Here are some ways to determine which of your skills could use a bit of an update.
Are your skills still relevant?
The STEM fields are continuously evolving, so it's important to keep up with the latest technologies, tools, and trends. Here’s how you can do that.
Check the job boards
What are employers looking for nowadays? How do they describe their expectations of potential applicants? Make a list of the most frequently mentioned skills and compare them with the list you put together earlier.
Are they all mentioning proficiency in something new like AutoCADs parametric modeling? If so, it’s time to brush up on some skills or catch up with the times, we’ll get into that shortly.
Go to a conference
A conference not only provides excellent networking opportunities but also offers essential insights into the industry.
Which topics are on the agenda? Who are the brands sponsoring the event? What kind of language are the participants using? What’s the overall feeling you get at the conference, are these people you want to surround yourself with for ~40 hours a week?
Use social networks
Engage with other active computer engineers through platforms like Reddit, Facebook, or other platforms of your choice. Take the opportunity to explore the topics and programs they are discussing, seeking valuable feedback and tips from the community.
You’ll also want to take advantage of professional sites like LinkedIn. Here’s how you can optimize your LinkedIn profile so STEM recruiters can easily find you.
Whether you prefer an anonymous check-up by checking job boards or enjoy networking at conferences or online - all these methods will help you assess the relevance (or non-relevance) of your skills.
Updating your skill sets
A major plus that has come with everything going online is the number of available resources you have at your disposal. Tons of which are completely free!
- Hubspot certifications: HubSpot offers a selection of certifications that cover different aspects of Web Design, Service, Marketing and more. While they aren’t officially accredited, they are excellent resume/LinkedIn additions.
While LinkedIn Learning, Hubspot, Udemy, and many other resources can help you get back on a competitive standing with other applicants, unfortunately they don’t quite carry the same weight as a diploma. Not only that, they can’t provide you with the networking opportunities you’ll find at a school that can be key for “getting your foot in the door”.
That being said, not all schools are created equal. A regionally accredited school (like the University of Utah) offers the perks you think of (in-person networking, transferable credits and widely accepted diploma legitimacy), whereas a nationally accredited school could be only slightly more accepted than a Hubspot certification and a connection you made on a social network.
Ask yourself, what is the objective you hope to achieve when returning to school? Can it be achieved through a combination of other resources? Is it worth your time/money? If not, it’s time to look into some Reentry alternatives.
There are some mixed feelings when it comes to reentry programs.
Some see it as a pretty corporate thing (which if you’re in a STEM field, this isn’t uncommon). Some see it as an excuse to pay women less during an extended internship during which you are doing professional work. But isn’t that what an internship is anyway?
With a change in perspective and belief in oneself, reentry programs can hold significant value.
We have already touched upon the importance of networking in the previous paragraphs, but it is definitely worth mentioning once again, so we’ll highlight some networking tips here.
- Get involved in the Reddit subs, Facebook groups, etc. There are niche groups for absolutely everything nowadays. If you can find where your people are hanging out online, get there, and actively engage in the conversation
- Optimize your LinkedIn profile
- Go to conferences with business cards, or some way to keep in touch
- Hit up your old (or new) school contacts, see what they’re up too
- Utilize reentry program networks and events. Organizations like SWE not only provide virtual networking events, but also organize local Women Engineering (WE) conferences and the world's largest WE conference.
- Consider applying for scholarships and registering for mentorship programs, these resources can greatly enhance your re-entering efforts by providing financial support and connecting you with experienced professionals who can offer guidance and support.
If you feel like your portfolio needs some updating, worry not, we've got you covered. Just keep reading for some valuable tips and insights to help you enhance your portfolio.
Applying for the job
Remember that tip we mentioned at the beginning of the article? The one about taking all the little nuggets of info you’re seeing out in the internet?
- What skills are consistently mentioned on the job boards?
- What do people keep mentioning in the online communities?
- What do the booths at the conference offer?
Write all that info down, then create a resume that highlights these topics and how you’re fully prepared to excel at them! Which certifications do you have? Who can you use as a reference to back you up?
If you need a place to give your resume/cover letter a facelift, check out Canva. They have tonsss of templates that will help you look much better than the competition.
After your hired: Tips for Balancing Work and Family
Returning to the workforce after being a stay-at-home parent can be challenging, but it's not impossible. Balancing work and family requires careful planning, time management, and communication. Here are a few tips to help you manage your responsibilities as a working parent:
Set realistic expectations
Be realistic about what you can and cannot do. It's important to prioritize your time and focus on what's most important.
Communicate with your employer
Communicate your needs and expectations with your employer. Let them know if you have any specific scheduling needs or if you need to take time off for family responsibilities.
Use a planner or calendar to keep track of your schedule and deadlines. This can help you stay on top of your responsibilities and avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Ask for help
Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Whether it's from a family member, friend, or coworker, asking for help can make all the difference.
Returning to the workforce after being a stay-at-home parent can be challenging, but it's also an exciting opportunity to re-engage with your career and pursue new opportunities. With the right mindset, preparation, and support, you can successfully re-enter the computer engineering workforce and thrive in your career.
Remember to assess your skills, tailor your resume and cover letter, network, prepare for interviews, and balance your work and family responsibilities. And don't forget to enjoy the process and have fun!
And once you land that fancy desk job, you’ll need the perfect desk topper. A book to remind you where you’re at professionally, while hinting at the little one at home; Computer Engineering for Babies
Q: How do I assess my skills after being out of the workforce for several years?
A: Start by reviewing your previous work experience and identifying the skills you used in your previous roles. Consider any additional skills you may have gained through volunteering, freelance work, or personal projects. You can also take courses or attend workshops to update your skills and stay current with the latest technologies.
Q: How do I tailor my resume and cover letter for a computer engineering role?
A: Customize your resume and cover letter to highlight your relevant experience and skills. Focus on accomplishments and quantify your results whenever possible. Use keywords from the job description to ensure that your application gets through applicant tracking systems.
Q: How do I network as a stay-at-home parent?
A: Start by reaching out to your former colleagues and industry contacts. Attend industry events, join professional associations, and participate in online communities to expand your network. Consider joining a mentorship program to connect with experienced professionals in your field.
Q: How do I prepare for a job interview after being out of the workforce for several years?
A: Practice your responses to common interview questions with a friend, mentor, or career counselor. Research the company and the role you're applying for, and prepare thoughtful questions to ask during the interview. Dress professionally and bring copies of your resume and any relevant work samples.
Q: How do I balance work and family responsibilities?
A: Set realistic expectations, communicate with your employer, get organized, and don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Remember to prioritize your time and focus on what's most important.