It's common knowledge, far more women than men take time off to care for their kiddos and families, then struggle to pick up where they left off. Seattle area women facing those barriers now have help with the transition back to work. ReBoot, a Silicon Valley training program that helps women re-enter the workforce, is heading to Seattle. We chatted with Nancy Jensen, ReBoot Seattle's program director (and mom) about the program.
Seattle Refined: Tell us about the ReBoot program, how does it work?
Nancy Jensen: ReBoot Seattle is a program designed for women who have taken a career pause to become current, connected and confident to restart careers, start new businesses and achieve new goals. We offer a 1 week Immersion Program and an eight week Accelerator Program. Both provide an intensive experience to get you ready for reinvention through hands-on learning of current tech, workplace and career skills. For follow-up, we also offer Club ReBoot, which provides continuing education and networking for women intent on growing their workplace tech skills, network, and confidence.
Is the program exclusively for women?
ReBoot is designed for women looking to pivot in new directions, stay-at-home moms looking to return to the workforce and women facing life transitions, including separation, divorce, widowhood, and empty nests. It is designed for people who have taken a career break, and that is primarily women. 93% of women are primary family caretakers, and 43% of women take a career break. That said, a few men have attended ReBoot in our Silicon Valley head quarters.
How did you come up with this idea?
ReBoot was the brainchild of Diane Flynn in Silicon Valley. After taking several years off from the workforce to raise her children, Diane returned to paid work in the summer of 2014 as CMO of GSVlabs in Redwood City, CA. When sharing her story of reentry with friends, they all reported similar experiences: the work world changed while they were on break, and what it takes to succeed today is different than when many women were last employed. Social media, shared drives, visual everything, and current workplace tech tools can be confusing and overwhelming. Providing exposure to these technologies, along with a growth mindset and connections to others who are engaging in this exciting process are keys to a successful reentry. ReBoot is designed to do just this.
When my youngest son started kindergarten, I began thinking about going back to work. After several interviews that left me feeling less than confident, I attended an immersion program in Silicon Valley and immediately recognized the need and opportunity in the Puget Sound. I brought ReBoot to the Seattle area with its inaugural cohort in Fall 2016 at UW CoMotion Labs. Together with my business partner Sarah Duenwald, ReBoot Seattle is expanding with fall and spring accelerators and immersion courses, and ongoing continuing education and networking opportunities with Club ReBoot.
What’s the success rate?
ReBoot SV reports 63% women are working after three months, and 82% report engaged in work after 6 months. ReBoot Seattle ran our first cohort in fall 2016, so we are gathering data now and signs show we will see similar success. We are delighted to hear from our ReBoot Seattle alumnae about jobs they have landed in biotech, non-profit, investing, community co-working and tech while others are actively interviewing.
How do you teach confidence?
Once a woman pauses her career, she faces three significant challenges of reentering. Workplace technology changes fast, professional connections get stale, and confidence erodes. These returnees need to refresh their skills, redevelop their network and build their confidence. We find that there is an almost automatic confidence boost associated with skills and technical training. Additionally, attendees are surrounded by a community of like-minded women who all have a common goal and are experiencing the same challenges so they know they are not alone. As a result, our cohort reported their confidence scores more than doubled after going through the ReBoot program.
What kind of jobs is the program geared towards? Any particular field?
ReBoot Seattle is focused on providing the technical skills that businesses use today. Technology is intrinsic to every company these days, regardless of vertical focus. ReBoot attendees have broad industry experience.
Sign up now for the next one week immersion course at the Expedia headquarters in Bellevue March 6-10, or for the eight week accelerator program at UW CoMotion Labs in Seattle that runs March 29 - May 24. Scholarships are available for women who may need financial assistance. Scholarship requests can be sent to Info@rebootseattle.com.