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Oracle supported a return to work for Elizabeth and Dawn

Oracle supported a return to work for Elizabeth and Dawn

Elizabeth was working on Wall Street when she got the unshakeable feeling that she wasn’t living up to her potential. A philanthropist at heart, she felt she could do more for the world by helping people in need. And so it was that she pressed pause on her high-flying finance career and began volunteering.

After a career break of fifteen years, Elizabeth decided to channel her passion for doing good into a career with Oracle. Now a manager on Oracle's Corporate Citizenship team, she’s a wonderful example of why Oracle values the unique skills that people who return to work bring with them.

Changing lanes in her career

Elizabeth’s career kicked off in 1986 after she graduated from business school with an MBA in Finance. “Following in my father’s footsteps I worked on a trading desk,” she begins. “But I eventually starting feeling as though my days were spent helping others make money and very little, if any, part of my life was about giving back.

After the birth of her first son Elizabeth continued to work, but it became increasingly clear to her that she had more to offer, even if it was spending time with her family and volunteering for causes that she cared about. “When my second son was born, I had the privilege of staying home with my boys, and engaging in volunteering at a local non-profit that supports under resourced elementary school students.”

Elizabeth donated her time to recruiting, training, and managing volunteers. Meanwhile her boys grew older and more self-sufficient. “I started to wonder what life would look like when they left the house, and that scared me,” she admits. “What would I do all day? Another thought going through my head was, I really want to earn a paycheck. It had been so long, and I believed earning a paycheck would help validate my self-worth.”

Getting back on the horse

Elizabeth couldn’t help but worry that returning to work would be easier said than done. Like so many others who’ve taken extended time off, she was plagued by doubts about where she would fit into the new working world.

“I worried I was too old.  Would I have to work at a desk job in finance, because that’s what I did before? I could never work in Silicon Valley where all these really smart, innovative, and driven people work,” she remembers thinking.  “How would I manage all the things I do for my family? And who would exercise my dog?”

Elizabeth overcame her fears slowly but surely. “My husband is my biggest ally and he showed up in a big way,” she reveals. “He kept telling me that whoever hires me will be very lucky. I then spoke to a friend who founded a company, ReBoot Accel, that helps returners “reboot themselves” through weekly workshops.”

Elizabeth learned how to write a resume, own her career gap, create a LinkedIn profile, negotiate, and create her brand. “The most important thing I learned was how to create my elevator pitch,” she says. “That took time. I started by asking friends what they thought I was good at. The answers were all the same—supporting those who are less fortunate with empathy.”

Owning her career gap

Elizabeth’s resume displays multiple volunteering experiences, from being part of the leadership team of a non-profit to founding a school committee that delivers meals anonymously to community members who are dealing with a life crisis.

“These experiences show up first on my resume, not at the end,” she explains. “I treat them like a job on my resume, owning the break in my career. My volunteering informed my elevator pitch and launched my search for roles in corporate social responsibility. I felt empowered by leveraging my volunteering experience—it meant I could earn a salary doing what I loved with like-minded people, in an engaging, creative, professional environment. Everything just came together.”

Finding her calling at Oracle

With her resume spruced up, Elizabeth started looking for potential employers that were close to home. Oracle made the list.

“Then a few weeks into my search I found a job on Glassdoor for Oracle Corporate Citizenship. I called my friend and asked if she knew anyone that worked at Oracle, and she did.  Her neighbour has been at Oracle for 20 plus years and, as it turned out, our two boys had played lacrosse together in high school.”

After some networking, Elizabeth shared her newly created resume with her Oracle connection, who duly passed it along to the director of corporate citizenship. An interview was set.

“It turned out the role wasn’t the best fit, but that a new role on the same team was being developed,” she shares. “I asked if I could come in for an informational interview with the director and hiring manager. I can’t overstate the value of informational interviews - it’s when your soft skills can shine. My timing was fortunate as the director was just beginning to visualize this new role, and I was invited to give my thoughts and insights.

Six months later, Elizabeth applied and was hired for the job that she helped to create.

Beating her pre-work jitters

A few weeks before starting, Elizabeth began to feel some of her old worries re-surface. “Would I meet their expectations? Will they find out I’m not as experienced as they thought I was? Would I be viewed as too old? How will I manage the new technology? Do I have to use Windows or could I use a Mac which I’ve been using for the past 10 years? How will my family manage? When will I work out? Who will do the cooking and the cleaning?” she lists.

Ever the pragmatist, Elizabeth dealt with her fears head on. “I created a spreadsheet listing all of the things I do for our family during the work week, from picking up laundry to grocery shopping, driving my youngest son to school and cooking. I totalled the hours up to 30,” she recalls. “When I shared this with my husband he was surprised; he had no idea. This process was super helpful in starting the conversation about splitting the family/house chores.”

Coming onboard

The big day came around when Elizabeth finally joined Team Oracle. “I spent much of the first few months learning about corporate citizenship and wrapping my head around designing and launching a new program, while at the same time becoming familiar with Oracle’s culture,” she describes. “I found Oracle very warm and welcoming. I’m fortunate to work with some amazing people who are passionate about doing good, and helping others do good. With a global role, I’ve met colleagues all over the world and really appreciate our similarities and differences.”

Life experience goes a long way at Oracle

Elizabeth’s perspective has been invaluable in the design and launch of the formal Oracle Career Relaunch program for people returning to work after a career break. She, like us, recognizes the intrinsic value that people with life experience can add to our company.

“Oracle recognizes that those who have taken a break from the workforce bring a unique set of talents and perspectives to the workforce,” she emphasizes. “Creativity, flexibility, time management skills, commitment…The hard skills you can teach, but the soft skills are the jewels that returners bring with them. These skills can’t be taught, they are developed and honed over time through different experiences. Of course, by investing in a return to work program, Oracle is proving its commitment to reducing the gender diversity gap which many tech companies face.”

Elizabeth’s advice for returners

“The biggest factor that holds women, and people who have taken a career break, back from acting on their return to work plan is a lack of self-confidence,” she advises. To counter this, she suggests aspiring returners do the following:

  • Ask those who know you what your strengths are. Bask in their words. Write them down. Revisit them often.
  • Take a workshop or course designed for relaunchers. Hearing from others who are experiencing the same fears is incredibly empowering.
  • Build a spreadsheet that identifies your daily/weekly obligations and the time commitment associated with them. This exercise allows you to start shifting your thinking about how your family can share them.
  • Surround yourself with allies, they will be your cheerleaders!

Oracle returners

Dawn had been out of the corporate world for nearly two decades when the Oracle UK Returnship Programme caught her eye. She had pressed pause on her career 19 years ago to start a family, but always saw herself returning to the technology industry, which she had loved.  

Prior to her career break, Dawn worked in product and program management roles for companies like Intel, Olivetti, and Gateway. Ever the enterprising and resourceful type, she continued to add to her IT education while raising her family, and even started a small glass repair business during this time.

But like so many other women in her position, she worried how her career break would affect her future prospects: Would her skills still be valuable? Would her career experience still be relevant? Would she have to build her career from scratch all over again?

“As women we tend to tell ourselves that the skills we’ve had and the positions we’ve held are no longer relevant in today’s workplace,” Dawn observes. “We even convince ourselves that the additional skills we’ve gained outside of work aren’t important. That leaves you thinking the only option available is to join a company in a junior role and work your way back up, and of course, lots of women then don’t consider returning at all.”

Oracle's Women’s Returnship Programme is designed with women like Dawn in mind. The two-day program re-immerses attendees in current work culture, and arms them with essential skills and knowledge that can help them move their career forward with confidence. This very programme would go on to show Dawn that not only was she still valuable in the IT world—she was exactly what Oracle Cloud Infrastructure were looking for.

Opportunity comes calling

It was a friend who first suggested to Dawn that she should find a Women’s Returnship Programme. “I signed up to a website called Woman Returners,” she recalls, “and shortly after I received an email with details of Oracle’s two-day Return to Work event. I applied and got accepted—but I really didn’t know what to expect or how I’d feel being back in that environment.”

Dawn’s uncertainty didn’t last for long. “It all felt familiar and I knew instantly that I’d made the right decision by attending,” she shares. “During the programme we were introduced to some amazing women that work for Oracle and we even got to talk to other women who had returned to Oracle after an extended career break. It was great to hear about their experiences of the job market, and really encouraging to hear about their careers and what it was like to work for Oracle.”

Dawn was feelingly decidedly more confident about her future when Oracle recruiters asked about attendees’ interest in some open engineering roles at Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. “I wanted to know more about the position so I popped my name on the list. Not long after I was invited to attend a Zoom meeting. It was just before we went into lockdown when I met the OCI team for the first time virtually,” she relays.

Two Zoom interviews later, Dawn had the job in the bag.

New beginnings

Dawn is now two months into her new role as an Oracle Cloud Data Centre Technician in Oracle's London data centre. “At the moment I’m getting to grips with the role, learning the systems, and being trained,” she describes. “My role acts as the technical liaison between our technology teams and the data centre. More and more companies are converting to the cloud by switching from in-house solutions to cloud based solutions,” she explains, “and OCI is at the very heart of that: We have the most advanced server compute, storage, and networking capabilities in the world, so it’s exciting to be part of it.”

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure is known for its unique team culture and values-led approach to engineering. It’s something that resonates with Dawn, who really appreciates the open and collaborative atmosphere. “There’s a real sense of teamwork and professionalism,” agrees Dawn.

“Everyone is brilliant and they gladly share their time and knowledge; I feel very supported,” she continues. “I was told during the Returners Programme that there’s no such thing as a stupid question, and I can confirm that’s true. You have ample opportunity to learn and grow. The customer is the top priority so it’s all about gaining the right skills to make sure their issues are successfully resolved.”

The biggest lessons Dawn has learned

Having now successfully completed her return to work, does Dawn have any words of wisdom for other women who are contemplating it?

“I would most definitely encourage women to attend a returnship programme like this,” she advises. “There’s a growing awareness around the huge benefits of tapping into the skills of women who have taken a career break. Things have changed, but not as much as you might think.”

Dawn explains that Oracle's Returnship Programme can give women a greater understanding of what the workplace looks like now. “You’ll leave with a huge amount of confidence and understanding of how relevant your present and previous skills actually are,” she emphasizes.  “You’ll come away feeling able to achieve just about anything!”

Dawn leaves us with one final piece of advice for all women in tech. “Sometimes as women we can get too comfortable and only see ourselves in defined roles. Don’t overlook any opportunity,” she cautions, “honestly, just go for it: apply for a role even if your skill set doesn’t directly match the requirements, because attitude is just as important as experience. You are relevant and you have so much to offer. You’ll surprise yourself—I did!”

Ready to return to work after a career break? 

Oracle Career Relaunch can help you re-enter the working world in a full-time position, while giving you the skills you need to be successful. 

Apply for positions at Oracle.


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