What is a returnship?

Returning professional internships (‘returnships’*) act as a bridge back to senior roles for experienced professional women** who have taken an extended voluntary career break. They are paid short-term employment contracts. The returner takes on commercially significant assignments based on her skills, interests and prior experience. The employing organisation gains from focused attention on business-critical issues and a low-risk opportunity to assess a potential employee’s suitability for a permanent role at the end of the period.

In a best practice model, coaching/training and mentoring support is provided to the returner, both at the induction phase and during the programme. Returnships are used by a returner to update skills, knowledge and experience in their previous sector/role or possibly to transition into a new area. 

Read more about the business case for returnship programmes

UK returnship development

Returnships are a relatively new concept in the UK, pioneered by City investment banks in 2014. In 2015-6 we led the growth and development of returnships across sector and across England and Scotland. We have partnered with many leading organisations such as EY, Tideway, Man Group, Skanska, Macquarie Bank and O2 to develop and run successful returnships. Programmes have grown in number rapidly: from 3 in 2014, to 9 in 2015 and 23 in 2016 (source: Women Returners research).

See here for a list of 2014-17 UK returnship programmes 

Returnship success

There is strong evidence of success in the UK, with the majority of participants taken on into ongoing mid to senior level roles at the end of the programmes run to date. Contact us if you would like to find out more details and case study information. 

Read how we can support you if you are an organisation interested in developing your own returnship programme

* The term ‘Returnship’ is trademarked by Goldman Sachs

** The majority of participants are women, however UK programmes are also open to men offering similar opportunities to stay-at-home fathers/carers.