A Network of Strength: Neha's Tale of Overcoming Obstacles with the Help of Loved Ones
Updated: May 13
Embarking on a new journey can be daunting, but for Neha Saxena, it was a challenge she was determined to overcome. After taking a break to focus on her family, Neha found herself facing a daunting task: returning to the workforce. Even with her impressive credentials and extensive experience in the computer science industry, Neha faced a series of obstacles that threatened to derail her efforts to find a job.
Many employers seemed unwilling to understand the gap in her employment history, while others held preconceived notions about the capabilities of working mothers. It would have been easy for Neha to give up in the face of such adversity, but she refused to let these obstacles stand in her way.
With the help of Her Allies, including her mentor Kevin Broom and northstar guide Tabitha Paturi, Neha was able to overcome the challenges she faced. Her Allies provided her with the support and guidance she needed to navigate the job market, offering valuable advice and insights that helped her stay focused and motivated.
Alongside her mentor, Neha also received additional personalized support through other Her Allies volunteers. Chris Pepper reviewed her LinkedIn Profile and Rashmi Ramchandani her resume to ensure that keywords and the right language was being used to grab the attention of hiring managers and recruiters. Concurrently, Kezia Paturi and Ashley Brown helped Neha with mock interviews to help her prepare. These gifts of time from our volunteers added to the creation of a support system.
Building a living, breathing Support System
When Neha had no light in sight and felt like doors were shutting all around her, she turned to her support system. She sent a vulnerable email to Tabitha from Her Allies, but Tabitha's response was just what she needed. Tabitha's guidance and encouragement helped Neha to reframe her thinking about her time off and regain confidence in herself.
"After talking to Tabitha, a lot changed in terms of my perspective and how I was positioning myself," said Neha.
Tabitha reviewed Neha's resume and gave her some valuable advice on how to present herself to potential employers. There was some conflicting advice from people both within and outside Her Allies about whether to highlight the gap in her resume or not.
"I used to apologize for the gap in my resume, but Tabitha taught me to own it and to be confident about it," Neha said. "I learned to focus on my 11 years of experience and to highlight the skills I had gained during my time off. This shift in perspective made a big difference in the way I was perceived by recruiters and employers."
Neha realized that she was blaming herself for the challenges she faced in her job search and that she couldn't do this journey alone. She leaned on her support network, which included her husband and friend Conria D’Souza, each providing a unique role in her journey. Her husband provided unwavering encouragement and brainstormed strategies, while her friend acted as a motivator and tactical coach.
Having multiple people to turn to made all the difference for Neha.
"I realized that I couldn't do this journey alone, and I needed a support system to help me get through the ups and downs," Neha said, "They listened to me, gave me advice, and encouraged me to keep going."
Discovering a Next to Perfect Fit for Her
Regardless of her years of experience and strong skills, many companies did not seem to understand the value she could bring to the table, and she was often offered junior roles instead of the senior positions she was seeking.
"Companies often didn’t appreciate that my gap was family-centric and not one around finding myself or traveling, etc. Sometimes interviews would end 15 minutes after they heard that. I learned that this indicated that maybe this wasn’t the right place for me," Neha said.
These interview experiences were eye-opening for Neha and showed her that not all companies are family-friendly, despite what they may claim on their websites. To find the right position for her that would support her current and future goals, she learned to reframe her interviewing, adapted focused strategies.
"Kevin provided me with nuggets of wisdom on any topic I wanted to learn to prepare for interviews. We didn’t follow the mock interview framework but rather explored subject areas in-depth, gaining a 360-degree perspective," explained Neha. "Kevin made himself available even when I didn’t have any interviews lined up. He was there for a humanizing conversation, motivating me to keep my head high and my chin up!"
Neha's journey was not without its share of challenges, but she refused to let them define her. Instead, she powered through with unwavering determination, hard work, and an unyielding belief in herself. Her relentless pursuit of her dream job became a testament to the power of persistence, and she learned to take control of her job search, build her confidence, and showcase her strengths and skills. She transformed her gap from a liability to an asset by being honest and open about it, and using it as an opportunity to demonstrate her unwavering dedication to her family. Through it all, Neha emerged as a shining example of what can be achieved with grit, resilience, and a supportive network.
Neha's unwavering determination and perseverance finally paid off as she secured her dream job in product management. Her journey was filled with challenges and setbacks, but she refused to give up and relentlessly pursued her goals. Neha's success story is a testament to the power of resilience and hard work. She proved that with dedication and a strong will, nothing can stand in the way of achieving your dreams.
Neha expressed her gratitude, saying, "I'm so thankful for Kevin's support. He helped me through the toughest moments, and in fact, if it weren't for him, I wouldn't have been on my laptop searching for jobs that day. I truly believe that I wouldn't have been able to find a job without his help."
Neha's journey is a shining example of the indomitable spirit that drives us to overcome even the toughest challenges. Her story is a testament to the power of unwavering support and the unbreakable will to never give up on our dreams. Neha's triumph is a reminder that with the right people by our side, anything is possible.
Whether you're just starting your career or coming back after a break, it's important to remember that you're not alone and that there are people who are willing to help. So don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help when you need it. Your future self will thank you for it, and Her Allies is here to help!