Re-entering the workforce after a career break can be a challenging endeavor, but returnships offer a structured and supportive way to ease this transition. One of the most powerful tools you can leverage during your returnship is networking. Building and nurturing professional relationships can significantly impact your career trajectory, opening doors to new opportunities and providing invaluable support. Here’s how to harness the power of networking during your returnship to maximize your career potential.

Understanding the Importance of Networking

Networking is more than just exchanging business cards; it’s about building genuine relationships that can provide mutual support and opportunities. During a returnship, effective networking can help you:

  • Reconnect with Industry Trends: Stay updated with the latest developments and best practices in your field.
  • Gain Mentorship: Find mentors who can guide you through your career transition and provide valuable advice.
  • Access Hidden Opportunities: Learn about job openings and projects that may not be advertised publicly.
  • Enhance Your Professional Reputation: Establish yourself as a proactive and engaged professional.

Strategies for Effective Networking During a Returnship

  1. Start with a Networking Plan
    • Set Clear Goals: Determine what you want to achieve through networking. Are you looking to learn about industry trends, find a mentor, or discover job opportunities?
    • Identify Key Contacts: Make a list of colleagues, supervisors, and industry professionals you want to connect with. Focus on individuals who can provide insights and opportunities aligned with your goals.
  2. Engage Actively in the Workplace
    • Participate in Meetings and Events: Attend company meetings, workshops, and social events. Actively participate and contribute to discussions to showcase your knowledge and enthusiasm.
    • Seek Out Projects: Volunteer for projects that allow you to work with different teams and departments. This will help you expand your network within the organization.
  3. Leverage Online Platforms
    • Update Your LinkedIn Profile: Ensure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date with your current role, skills, and accomplishments. Connect with colleagues and industry professionals.
    • Join Professional Groups: Participate in LinkedIn groups and online forums related to your industry. Engage in discussions, share insights, and connect with like-minded professionals.
  4. Build Genuine Relationships
    • Schedule Informational Interviews: Reach out to colleagues and industry professionals for informational interviews. Use these meetings to learn about their career paths, gain insights, and discuss your career goals.
    • Show Appreciation: Send thank-you notes to individuals who provide support or valuable information. Expressing gratitude can strengthen your relationships and leave a positive impression.
  5. Seek Mentorship
    • Identify Potential Mentors: Look for experienced professionals within your organization or industry who can offer guidance and support.
    • Initiate the Relationship: Approach potential mentors with a clear request for guidance. Be respectful of their time and express your appreciation for their insights.
  6. Stay Connected
    • Follow Up: Keep in touch with your new connections regularly. Share updates on your progress and stay informed about their career developments.
    • Offer Help: Networking is a two-way street. Be willing to offer support and assistance to your connections whenever possible.

Real-Life Success Stories

Jane’s Return to Finance

  1. After a five-year career break, Jane joined a returnship program at a financial firm. By actively participating in company events and seeking mentorship, she built strong relationships with key stakeholders. These connections helped her secure a permanent role as a financial analyst.

Mark’s Marketing Revival

  1. Mark, a former marketing manager, took a career break to travel and pursue personal projects. During his returnship at a marketing agency, he leveraged LinkedIn to connect with industry leaders and joined professional groups. His proactive networking led to freelance opportunities and, eventually, a full-time position.

Lisa’s Tech Transition

  1. Lisa transitioned from a career in education to tech through a returnship at a software company. She attended tech meetups, engaged with colleagues on projects, and sought out a mentor within the company. Her networking efforts not only enhanced her skills but also resulted in a job offer as a project manager.


Networking is a powerful tool that can significantly enhance your returnship experience and pave the way for future career success. By building genuine relationships, seeking mentorship, and actively engaging in both offline and online networking activities, you can maximize the benefits of your returnship. Remember, effective networking is about mutual support and continuous engagement. Leverage the power of networking during your returnship to unlock new opportunities and advance your career.