After Nine Years, How One Mom Re-Entered the Workforce
By Workday Staff Writers
It had been nine years since she’d been employed.
But in those past nine years, Rebecca Jorgenson hadn’t exactly “taken a break.” After countless parent-teacher association meetings, school fundraisers, nightly sports practices, parent volunteer events, and all the rest that comes along with being a mom to three young boys, she finally felt ready.
Sitting in a conference room at our Pleasanton headquarters for her first job interview in 18 years, Rebecca had one question for herself: Could she really pick up where she left off?
The answer turned out to be yes. Four years later, Rebecca is a project manager at Workday and serves as a mentor for Workday’s new Returnship Program, which is designed to help parents and caregivers jumpstart their careers to get back into the workforce.
Rebecca’s career started, ironically, on the fourth floor of an office in Pleasanton, California — right where a Workday office now sits. In 1991, Rebecca took a real estate planning position with Liberty Mutual. Before she knew it, she quickly gained responsibility.
“That’s when I was first exposed to how real estate works,” Rebecca said. “Boy, did I grow up. I started to travel pretty frequently for work. I tackled things like site selection, lease negotiation, interior design, furniture, construction — the whole works of project management from start to finish.”
From there, Rebecca went on to gain 14 years of real estate project management experience in various companies across the Bay Area. At the same time, Rebecca and her husband were starting a family.
“After we had our first son, I went back to work full-time,” Rebecca said. “But then we had our second son in 2003, I decided to scale back my hours to be able to help with the kids. My husband and I were talking about having a third, but I also had a career. I really felt like I was going places. But I knew that with three kids, it’d be really difficult to continue to work. We had a tough decision to make.”
But ultimately, it was an easy one.
“When it came to it, I knew it was time to stay at home to raise the kids,” Rebecca said. “And I felt lucky we had the flexibility to be able to do so.”
The Decision to Return to Work
“When I first made the decision to stay at home, I didn’t even think about going back to work,” Rebecca said. “You’re so engrossed with what’s going on with your kids.”
But when her youngest hit first grade and all three of her boys were in school most of the day, she started to feel that she needed something more.
The idea of returning to the workforce after nine years was daunting.
“I was very nervous,” she said. “I had a nine-year gap on my resume. I thought my skills would be completely outdated. Technology changes so quickly, so honestly I wasn’t sure if I would be able to catch up. But I knew I really needed to get back to work.”
Rebecca, a Pleasanton native, knew quite a few people at Workday. She had her eye on the company, so when a space planning position opened up, she asked a friend to pass along her resume.
But in the back of her mind, Rebecca knew this position wasn’t quite the right fit. In fact, Rebecca’s expertise and years of experience surpassed the duties of the role — but she saw it as an opportunity as an open door back into the workforce.
But the hiring manager at Workday is also a working mom. Despite the nine-year gap on Rebecca’s resume, she recognized Rebecca’s potential and brought her in for an interview.
At the time, the team was interviewing Rebecca for a space planning position. But when the hiring manager took a look at her background, she knew that this position didn’t exactly fit Rebecca’s level of experience. Rebecca and the hiring manager connected a couple weeks later.
“They had a project management contracting role open up that allowed me to work 25 to 30 hours a week,” Rebecca said. “And the hiring manager told me, ‘You have a specific skill that many people don’t have.’ So I took it.”
For Rebecca, the ability to have an open conversation with her manager about being a working mom was key.
“Knowing that my manager was open and supportive of my returning to work was comforting,” Rebecca said. “From one mother to another, I really felt connected to her.”
The transition back into a full-time job wasn’t an easy one.
“When you’re at home for nine years, you do all the cooking, the cleaning, the caregiving,” Rebecca said. “We had to adjust accordingly once I went back to work. Our marriage became more of a partnership, which allowed me to focus on work. It’s something that I truly enjoy. I can’t imagine not working now.”
It also opened up new opportunities for Rebecca and her family, perspectives that they might not have realized had she not returned to work.
“I get to teach my boys why it’s important to understand that women do work,” Rebecca said. “It’s important they know that girls are just as smart as boys and women are equal to men — and moms can work just like dads do.”
And four years later, Rebecca has never looked back.
“I don’t regret coming back to work for a second,” Rebecca said.
Workday’s Upcoming Returnship Program
When Workday announced our partnership with Path Forward to launch our Returnship Program as part of Opportunity Onramps at Workday, Rebecca was ecstatic. For many caregivers looking to get back into the workforce, it can be difficult unless organizations are willing to overlook resume gaps and truly focus on the individual and what she can offer.
The Returnship Program at Workday is a 16-week paid returnship for experienced professionals returning to the workforce after taking time off for caregiving. The program is open to women and men who have at least five years of professional experience and have been out of the paid workforce for at least two years to focus on caring for a child or other relative.
“I’m so happy that we’re opening up this opportunity for other caregivers who want to return to not just a job, but a career,” Rebecca said.
When our returnship participants join us this fall, Rebecca will serve as a mentor to an incoming returnee.
“Mentoring is especially crucial because of the gap in the workplace,” Rebecca said. “It helps build your confidence. And it’s important to have that sounding board and to have someone who has been in your exact shoes helping you through issues you’ve experienced.”
She’s especially excited about our inaugural group of returnship candidates.
“I hope this gives our cohort an opportunity to get out there and showcase their skills,” Rebecca said. “At Workday, we’re here to make sure they feel worthwhile and they feel like they have something to offer, because they truly do.”