How My Love for Coding Brought Me Back to Tech
Sujala is a Software Developer who joined IBM through the “Tech Re-Entry program”, a full-time, paid returnship program at IBM for technical professionals who took a break from the workforce for one or more years and are looking to restart their careers in tech.
My name is Sujala and I joined IBM through the Tech Re-Entry program as a Software Developer. As an excited IBMer thriving in my new role, I want to share my story about my career journey that led me here, as it involves taking a break from the tech industry for multiple years and eventually finding my way back through this truly innovative and inclusive program. People take breaks in their careers all the time, and for many reasons. I hope my story may help inspire people who are in a similar situation as me, and show that if you’re passionate and motivated to make a comeback, IBM’s Tech Re-Entry program absolutely makes it possible to return to tech. For me, it was my love of coding and my curiosity for everything high-tech that ultimately brought me back!
My story begins when I had to leave the tech field years ago because the company, I was working for at the time took away the work-from-home option. Before this happened, my son was a year and a half old, and I was promoted to a “Tech Lead” position. Being promoted to a leadership position within tech is not something that always comes easily to women, so I felt this was a major accomplishment and milestone in my career. I was able to earn that position while working through my pregnancy and nursing my son. Even though the job was demanding, I was confident I could handle it. But when the work-from-home option was taken away, I was left working overtime without any flexibility or work-life balance. I made the choice that countless other women have had to make and chose the well-being of my child and family over my career. I walked away from the career I loved; one that I worked very hard over many years to build.
Unfortunately, after some time, due to some health issues I was experiencing, I had to walk away from this venture and take a complete break from working in coding and technology. During this time, I quickly realized that life without coding would be extremely dull and void of the excitement and feelings of curiosity I would get as soon as I was given a new problem to solve.
Coding has always been a way to bring some order and logic to my life during times when I don’t feel in control. I knew I needed to find a way back into the tech industry. Little did I know, IBM’s Tech Re-Entry program would make it possible for me to return to work, by jumpstarting and accelerating my career, without needing to start over.
At the time, I was co-chair in my daughter’s high school study group with an IBMer at the time, Suparna. As we spent more time together, she learned about my passion for coding and my journey in high tech. One day, I was speaking to her about my excitement to learn another programing language, GO-lang, because it was the perfect bridge between C and Java (C was my first love of coding languages, while Java was the language I’ve spent most of my career working with).
Suparna suggested that I look into the IBM Tech Re-Entry program, and shortly thereafter, I found a role within the program that listed GO in the job description. I took the leap and applied for it. After going through the application and interview process, I was offered a position and returned to work in January 2020!
IBM’s Tech Re-Entry is a one-of-a-kind program and backed by other amazing IBM programs like JumpStart, Apprenticeship, and Slack meetups. The JumpStart program introduces developers to various functions in the company, including innovation, patenting, and open source.
Through Tech Re-Entry and JumpStart, I was able to network with other new IBMers, find mentors, and participate in open-source and patenting opportunities. Within my team, I was encouraged and motivated by my manager, who actively listened to my career goals and aspirations and constantly provided feedback to help me grow in my career. They took the time to assess my skills and provide opportunities where I could use and enhance my coding abilities.
After spending some time in my first role, I eventually realized that I wanted to move to a different team that aligned better with my future career goals. Fortunately, and this is another reason why I love being an IBMer, my manager supported and encouraged my decision and helped me transition to my new role and ensure I hit the ground running on day one!
To be honest, when I decided to return to work, I had prepared myself for the difficult climb of getting back into the tech field and workplace. I was pleasantly surprised that IBM’s Tech Re-Entry program not only made it easy for me to transition back, but it also set me up for success to continue accelerating my career and up-skilling my abilities – all to help me reach my goals and make an impact for IBM and the world.
I am grateful for the opportunities that IBM’s Tech Re-Entry program has provided, and I’ll continue to advocate for those that have taken similar career breaks and wish to return to the workplace in the tech field. My advice to those who are trying to get back into the tech industry is to increase your network, acknowledge your own talent, speak favorably about your accomplishments, and frequently remind yourself that you’ll eventually get the career you want!
The IBM Tech-Re-Entry program is open to individuals with a career break of more than two years, and whose skills match those of the posted jobs. The program is currently offered in the United States, Canada, and India, with additional countries being added soon. Please visit our Tech Re-Entry website to learn more about the program.