What It’s Like to Return to the Corporate World After Taking a Career Break

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With Anna Nguyen (3 min read)

Anna Nguyen first worked at IBM in 1996 as a software engineer. In the middle of her rising career, she took a break from corporate life and decided to work as a patternmaker/operations manager/sewist and runway model for a fashion designer, and also acquired and ran a software company. In March 2018, she decided to go back to the corporate world and rejoined IBM as part of the Tech Re-Entry Program—a program for talented technical professionals who took a break from the workforce and are looking to restart their careers. Today, she is working as a Software Engineer in the IBM Research team.

In this installment of the Tech Re-Entry series, we chatted with Anna and asked her what it’s like to be back in the workforce. In this interview, she shares her advice for women who took a career break and are interested in rejoining the workforce.

Please tell us more about your experience coming back to the corporate world…
When I first decided to go back to the corporate environment, I had concerns about getting up to speed quickly enough on new technologies. It is a good thing that the IBM Tech Re-Entry program makes it easy for someone like me. The three-day orientation session, as well as weekly conference meetings, provided much needed assurance that I have the ability to tackle the challenges of re-entering the tech industry.

My teammates were also instrumental in providing me with useful resources at the appropriate levels of information to bring me up to speed.

I think the most valuable aspects of the IBM Tech Re-Entry program are the sponsorship and endorsement at a high level of candidates, the guidance provided via the orientation, and the supportive atmosphere within an engineer’s Tech Re-Entry cohort as well as within the entire Tech Re-Entry population.

Based on your experience, what type of people does IBM look for to join the program?
I think the ideal Tech Re-Entry candidate is one with a deep and broad domain expertise, who has stepped away from the industry for some length of time. Much of the skills and industry experience apply even if the technology may have evolved.

How does it feel to be working in a strategic project at IBM now, after taking a career break?
I love it!  Even though every technology that I deal with now is brand new to me, it feels like I have never been away. I suppose in this profession, one is always learning new things, so learning new things after a career break is no different than before the break.

What motivates you to go to work every day?
I love software engineering, much in the same way that I love solving puzzles. I think it’s really cool that I get to “play” with software at work. Additionally, I work with amazing colleagues in a great team.

What is the best career advice you can give to someone who wants to go back to work after a long break?
My advice would be to have confidence in one’s ability. The screening process in IBM would not be looking for familiarity with recent technology, but rather for the value of past experience as well as the kind of ability and background that would ease getting back up the technology curve.

IBM Tech Re-Entry Program is now accepting applications for US, Canada, and India. More information about the IBM Tech Re-Entry program can be found at

Are you interested in having a career at IBM? Get the latest career information and job opportunities by joining the IBM Talent Network!


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