Restarting your career? Check out our Re-Empower Program.

Mentorship, training and community building to help transition you back into the workforce

Robert Hoar needed to find new ways to use existing resources to lower the cost of a project. His team at Collins Aerospace, a Raytheon Technologies business, had an open position to help generate ideas, but none of the job candidates had anything new to say.

“They brought the same ideas to the problem and had the same beliefs about the limitations,” said Hoar. “It was frustrating to realize that we’d probably be marching in circles with the same people and ideas.”

Eventually, he received the resume of a woman named Kelly Thompson through Raytheon Technologies’ Re-Empower Program, a company initiative that helps professionals return to work after a career gap. Thompson hadn’t worked in the engineering field for nine years.

Somewhat reluctantly, Hoar hired her.

“When you've been out of the professional workplace for nine years, you’re seen as too much of a risk. I was really grateful to the organization, specifically Rob, for taking a chance on me,” said Thompson. “The program gave me the resources I needed to be successful and built my confidence.”

Kelly went on to initiate 25 cost-reduction ideas for the project, the most of anyone working on it.

“All the success of that project came from Kelly’s gusto,” said Hoar, now a commercial engines director at Pratt & Whitney, a business of Raytheon Technologies. “I’m a huge fan of the Re-Empower Program.”

The company will accept applications for its 2021 cohort through July 31.

How the Re-Empower Program supports a transition back to work

The program takes place over 14 weeks and provides participants with mentors, training and activities in networking and community building. That helps them regain their confidence and ease the transition. The message: Welcome back.

“I remember one speaker in a training session talking to us about imposter syndrome,” said Kejal Langalia, a recent program graduate who now works on technical manuals as a senior multidisciplined engineer for Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a Raytheon Technologies business. She had taken a three-year career break to care for her newborns. “That resonated with me and helped build up my confidence. I learned to tell myself ‘I have the background and the skills that can benefit this company. I belong here.”

How career breaks can make you better at your next job

It’s common for graduates of the Re-Empower Program to use skills they developed in their career breaks to find new, efficient ways of accomplishing objectives in their work once they return. Langalia recalled a recent assignment that required her to review 24 reports every week.

“I looked at it and thought, there’s no way I’m going to sit here and do this every week. It was so time-consuming,” Langalia said.

So she turned to one of the many skills she developed early in motherhood: time management. Specifically, she applied the same methods she used to simplify bathtime.

“We made the bath so complicated at first. We had the goodies, the toys, the lotions, soaps, everything. It took over an hour. I trimmed it down to the most critical elements, the towel and the soap. We got it done in a fraction of the time and then focused on more critical tasks of parenting,” Langalia said. “I keep that mindset with me at work now.”

And with that, those 24 weekly reports were condensed into only two – all while still keeping the most important information for project stakeholders.

The program opens a door to untapped talent

For job-seekers, the Re-Empower Program changes the thinking about long career gaps – historically, a liability they’ve had to justify or explain in job interviews.

“I had been rejected so many times by employers. It was always ‘why do you have a long career break?’” said Swarna Vongala, a systems engineer from Raytheon Missiles & Defense. “I was going nowhere and about to give up.”

Her husband encouraged her to apply to the Re-Empowerment Program when they heard about it from a friend.

“When I opened that acceptance letter I was like, ‘yes, I can do it.’ It’s great to be back.”

Enabling people to reach their potential in their personal and professional lives

Demand for programs like Re-Empower is rising, particularly for women who have children. A recent study found that 43% of new mothers in science, technology, engineering or math careers leave their jobs or go to part-time work, as opposed to 23% of new fathers in the same fields.

Compounding this problem, unemployment numbers among women have disproportionately surged due to COVID-19, making programs like Re-Empower even more vital. In response to this emerging need, Raytheon Technologies has reduced the career-break requirement from two years to one.

Past graduates have returned to work after taking time off to care for elderly parents, volunteer, return to school and even travel for personal reasons. The program is open to all genders, and it is popular among parents who took time off to care for their children.

Lisa Joubran, a 2020 program graduate, had paused her engineering career for 20 years for that same reason: her children. She now works for Raytheon Missiles & Defense as a systems engineer working on integration and testing for the company’s LTAMDS radar.

“I had always seen myself as a career person,” Joubran said. “When I had my children, it became my goal to get them to the place they needed to be. Now that I’ve done that, it’s my time to be successful. I couldn’t have done that without this program. It opened a door for me that I know was shut. Now I get to fulfill my destiny.”

Read about 2020’s cohort here.