Sarah Ganihar is among a growing contingent of workers with gaps on their resume who are benefiting from return-to-work programs. She worked as a software developer in Bengaluru before moving to the US, where she spent four years out of the workforce to raise her child. Now, she’s about to start a new career as a business analyst through Amazon’s Returnship Program, a 16-week paid virtual returnship with the possibility of gaining full-time employment upon completion of the program. In June 2021, Amazon announced it would expand its return-to-work initiative by hiring 1,000 returning professionals.
Sarah says it’s important for people who are switching careers to position their prior experience as an asset, rather than perceiving it as something that detracts from their current skillset. As a former QA analyst, she had plenty of experience creating user documentation, working directly with customers, and giving technical presentations. She made sure to emphasize this narrative during job interviews after completing the Data Analytics Career Track at Springboard.
Plenty of people take time off work to raise children, care for elderly parents, deal with an illness, travel, or complete military service. Sarah advises those with a gap on their resume to apply to return-to-work programs and work with a career coach.
“My career coach at Springboard helped me develop a story that I could tell during interviews that emphasized my skills as a business analyst rather than a software developer,” she said. “She was constantly motivating me to just keep going and reassuring me that there was an opportunity waiting for me.”
I worked in software development for a couple of years, and then I moved to the United States and I took some time off to raise my child. I wanted to return to the workforce, so I took a course on Tableau from Udemy. It sparked my interest to learn more about data analytics beyond just Tableau and data visualization. I came across Springboard and I wanted to give it a try. I was really impressed with the curriculum. It gives you an end-to-end understanding of data analytics, which is especially useful for someone who has a career gap or is starting a new career path.
My husband works in data analytics. So I spoke to him and a couple of friends who were in the same industry and asked them what their journey was like. Then I decided I wanted to pursue this. Data analytics is not just about visualizing data, but coming up with a problem and solving it. So I took the course at Springboard to gain an end-to-end understanding of what happens when you have a business problem and how to approach it.
I think the course curriculum was really great. I would like to have learned more about business analytics, but the course is constantly evolving and growing. During the course, I gave suggestions about a few units that were hard to understand, and my suggestions were taken up really quickly and the modifications were made while I was still completing the course. So I think that was really great. My mentor was amazing. She gave me the opportunity to work on my own, and when I had a problem, I could reach out to her and she was ready to help. The one-on-one mentor calls were also very helpful when you get stuck on something.
I am about to start in a new role as a business analyst at Amazon. My career coach suggested I look into Return to Work programs like Path Forward and iRelaunch. I came across the Amazon opportunity through Path Forward and I applied. My career coach helped me and motivated me throughout my journey at Springboard. She would help me face rejections and move forward, connect with more people on LinkedIn.
I’m going back after a really long time, so I'm excited and nervous to start corporate life again, and I'm excited to know what's beyond the Springboard curriculum and learn about the industry.
My advice would be to concentrate on Return to Work programs. These programs are really encouraging and they accept gaps in your resume, so you have a better chance of getting an opportunity.
I did apply for other jobs that were not part of the return-to-work programs. I landed a few interviews, but they all required some experience in data analytics or business analytics, which I didn’t have. Whereas the return-to-work programs accepted my career gap and were willing to train me and help me ramp up to where I want to be.
My Springboard mentor was really helpful. Since I didn't have prior experience in data analytics, she helped me navigate through my course. If I had any issues, I could just talk to her. She shared a lot of resources where I could find more information on things I was learning, like Excel and SQL.
My career coach was very helpful in terms of helping me update my resume with relevant skills. She helped me develop a story that I could tell during interviews that emphasized my skills as a business analyst rather than a software developer. She was constantly motivating me to just keep going and reassuring me that there was an opportunity waiting for me.
Throughout my career in software development, I worked as a senior QA analyst at Cognizant. I worked with a lot of customers, created a lot of user documentation, and gave non-technical presentations. My duties were similar to business analytics, where you create a hypothesis and you give your analysis and impart your insights to technical and non-technical executive stakeholders. So I was able to use that information about my customer-facing skills in my interviews with Amazon.
Definitely. Generally, business analysts use SQL and Excel, but if you know Python and other programming languages it’s more helpful, especially if you are focusing on data analytics or data science.
It's difficult to pick one thing; the whole experience has been really great. Springboard has an excellent curriculum, and they take your suggestions and make changes accordingly. I think it would be great if they could include more information about business analytics—because I think a lot of students who complete the Data Analytics Career Track also apply for business analysis jobs. I also think there should be someone to coach you on how to approach technical interviews. Other than that, the career coaches are amazing. They're always there for you and they keep motivating you and help you how to make new connections on LinkedIn—because that can be really overwhelming sometimes.
My advice would be to concentrate on developing technical skills like SQL and Tableau. SQL is the most important skill you should know, from intermediate to advanced. I would also say, look out for return-to-work opportunities if you haven’t succeeded at applying to regular jobs. Just keep going; things will happen. Don’t be disheartened.
I would like to thank Springboard for teaching me data analytics and helping me launch my career.