PWiC Returnship Panel and Workshop: Event Highlights

PWiC Seattle local chapter was formed in January 2019 and since its inception, it has been working towards building a community of Pakistani Women in Tech in the Greater Seattle area. In addition to building a community and celebrating its members, one of the major areas of focus for PWiC Seattle is to support women who are on a career break and want to return to work. In an effort to empower women on a career-break, PWiC Seattle team created an initiative to develop a Returnship program. This program is unique to PWiC Seattle based on its community needs.

Returnship refers to professionals who have been on a career-break and now want to return to work.

We successfully completed the first Returnship program milestone on Saturday, April 27th with Returnship Panel and Workshop, which highlighted and celebrated women in PWiC community who have successfully maneuvered a career break and are now back in the workforce. More than 42 women, men, and children attended the Returnship event. See detailed notes by Aisha Salman here

Returnship Panel and Workshop attendees

Sundas Khalid, PWiC Seattle Lead, welcomed and introduced the audience to PWiC Seattle and discussed its goals and vision for the Returnship Program. She also expressed her excitement about how the Seattle community has shown a great amount of support and appreciation for the work that PWiC is doing for the community. Returnship Panel and Workshop marks the 5th local event in Seattle.

Returnship Panel

Next, Sarwat Ismail introduced the four panelists, successful women who have been through a career break and are now back in the workforce.

· Beenish Ali — Senior Consultant at Microsoft

· Fauzia Aslam — Engineering Program Manager at Electronic Arts

· Farah Khurram— Software Engineer at Microsoft

· Fatima Khakwani— Global Lead at Amazon

· Sarwat Ismail— Panel Moderator — PWiC Seattle Growth Lead and Software Developer at PlayFab (Microsoft)

Key Takeaways

  • Build your network and find related resources and references
  • Don’t spend too much time finding the perfect dream job
  • Update your resume/LinkedIn and find gaps/skills you need to get back to work. One way is to attend school or take courses
  • Mock interviews are the way to go. Practice Practice Practice!

Returnship Workshop

The workshop was conducted in groups focused on job disciplines like Program Management, Data Science/Engineering, Business Intelligence, Software development, etc. Each group had a moderator that facilitated the discussion. The workshop had three discussion topics:

  1. Reflect: Reflect back on your career break — What skills have you acquired/polished during the break?
  2. Must-haves: Are you planning to go back to the same industry or change industry for your next job? What are you looking for in your next jobs? List three must-haves. e.g minimum salary, remote/work-from-home job, part-time jobs.
  3. Next steps: Write out some tangible steps you will take towards returning back to work. e.g. take courses, build a network, update resume/Linkedin, research my field.

Returnship Resources

Learn more about Pakistani Women in Computing

You can learn more about PWiC through these channels:

Partners and Sponsors

Photo credits: Snapshot Photography

Design credits: weprint

About the Author

Aisha Salman is part of the PWiC team in Seattle. More profile details are coming! Stay tuned!

Muazma Zahid is a Data Engineer, a first-generation immigrant to the US, and mother of three daughters. Muazma is passionate about Data and AI and Cloud Computing. She is an advocate of diversity and inclusion at the workplace and enjoys helping and empowering others. She is a foodie and loves challenging herself and those around her.

Currently, she works in Microsoft Azure DataCAT (Customer Advisory Team), where she helps customers to deploy the most demanding Data workloads on Azure. She has been a Data Engineer/Architect for over twelve years working on several Big Data, Cloud Computing, and AI Technologies.