Welcome Back: the search for employment after extended time off

When my husband left his job in 2013, I think we both assumed it would be for the short-term. Little did we know that it would take two and a half years before he was able to secure a job in his field. The experience changed our family in many positive ways, but the stress of job hunting and financial pressures took their toll.


People take time off for all sorts of personal and professional reasons, but child rearing and child care costs top the list of motivating factors for professionals opting out of their chosen careers. One Harvard Business Review article states that:

“Many women take an off-ramp at some point on their career highway. Nearly four in ten highly qualified women (37%) report that they have left work voluntarily at some point in their careers. Among women who have children, that statistic rises to 43%.”

In our home, the genders were reversed but the reasons were the same. We had just had our second child, and my husband had been working in what he thought was his chosen career in golf management. It was months after our first child was born that we quickly realized that golf and kids do not mix well. The early start times (people are on the course from sun-up) and the late nights for tournaments and private events meant that my husband would sometimes go days without seeing his daughter. During my second pregnancy he began planning an exit strategy to stay at home and care for her while also attempting a complete 180 in career paths.

The long time off work was a wonderful way for him to bond with our baby, but also presented challenges when trying to re-enter the workforce. When I recently heard about Shopify’s new career opportunity for those who have taken extended leave, I was really excited to share it with our parenting community.

Shopify knows that returning to work after a long period of time can be daunting, especially in an industry as fast-paced as technology. That’s why they’re launching a program here in Ottawa called Welcome Back – a paid, 3-month program designed to support engineers and developers with senior experience who have taken extended time off from work.

• The program is open to anyone who has been out of the workforce for a minimum of 2 years and has 3+ years of experience as a professional software developer

• Training is provided that refreshes development skills through hands-on workshops and custom programming, led by Shopify’s Engineering and Learning Development teams

• In addition to technical skills development, Welcome Back also focuses on rebuilding foundational knowledge, cross-team communication, and problem identification with the goal of helping candidates re-enter the workforce at a senior level.

Indeed, recent trends indicate that it is not just mothers faced with job leave and career shifts. A 2017 Modern Families Index report found that “fathers are the more likely (47%) to want to downshift into a less stressful job and 38% would be willing to take a pay cut to achieve a better work-life balance, reflecting the difficulty they face in reconciling work and home life.”

Our story has a happy ending, as my husband is set to complete a five-year apprenticeship in 2021. Paid job training programs can make a huge difference in the lives of people who are seeking work, particularly those with families at home that need the support.

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Want more information?

The Welcome Back 3-month program will run from October - December 2019 in downtown Ottawa (transit accessible), Monday to Friday from 9:30am - 2:00pm. Each successful participant will be partnered with a Shopify mentor after the first month to support their growth and wellbeing.

Check out Shopify’s Careers page to apply by September 13, 2019.

This post contains sponsored content from Shopify. All opinions are our own.