Career Advice

How I Restarted My Career After a Parenthood Break

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By Karuna Barla

 

When I took a career break from IBM India 13 years ago, it was a bittersweet interruption. On the one hand, I was excited about moving to the United States and starting a family but on the other, I knew I would miss the joy of working with my team.

I kept myself engaged in learning whatever was available online (HTML, CSS, JavaScript etc.). When I had my twin girls, as all cool moms do, I started blogging. However, I found myself more intrigued in the design/layout of the blog pages rather than the content. I began experimenting with all the web development knowledge I had amassed. Seeing my enthusiasm with web development, a friend suggested I try learning WordPress and I quickly took a liking to it.

Even as my heart enjoyed my time raising my baby girls, staying in touch with technical learning kept my mind excited. In 2013, I got an opportunity to volunteer with a non-profit organization to build and maintain their website. I built it using the skills I had, WordPress! I learned a lot as I volunteered with them and as they grew, so did my skills.

As my girls entered 2nd grade they were more independent, and I began longing to get back to work, I took a Full Stack Ruby on Rails Developer course online and started applying for work. Even though I landed some interviews I felt like I was always the oldest or oddest applicant. I was proud of taking a break to raise my girls and I was not going to hide that fact in my resume.

My fond memories of being an IBMer were so strong that I would inadvertently find myself browsing and applying for IBM jobs in my location to see if I fit in any of them. Then one day I found a Tech-Re-Entry position that matched my skills. The job description included “candidate must have a break of a minimum of 2 years”. It seemed they were describing me!

I applied, and after a few rounds of interviews, I was enrolled in IBM’s Tech Re-entry program 2018 along with 29 other amazing women with varying skillsets, hired for different business units, and who had also taken career breaks. For the first time, I belonged!

When I started my apprenticeship, I was pleasantly surprised that my manager and the team were ready for me. The internship project was relevant to my skillset and my task for the 12-weeks was outlined for me. As with any live project, there were hiccups along the way, but I never felt left out to fend for myself. People around me were ready to make time in their busy schedules, to answer my questions and help me whenever I was stuck. The Tech Re-Entry program leader made sure our apprenticeship was engaging and successful in every way.

The Tech Re-entry apprenticeship gave me a platform to showcase my skills in a tangible way and helped me achieve what I thought was impossible. To successfully re-start my career in technology!

 

More information about Tech Re-Entry can be found at www.ibm.com/techreentry.

 

About the Author

Karuna Barla graduated from the National Institute of Technology (formerly Regional Engineering College) Calicut (India) as an Electrical and Electronics Engineer in 2000. She is Software Engineer at IBM Watson Customer Engagement. When not coding, she loves challenging her husband and twin girls to an XBOX game or enjoys singing and playing her guitar.

Interested in working at IBM? Stay connected by joining our Talent Network.

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