Ad agency network Y&R is launching a pilot program for people with career breaks in advertising to make a comeback

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  • Y&R, an ad agency network, is trying to make it easier for people who may have left the advertising industry to make successful comebacks. 
  • It is launching its own pilot career reboot program called PowerOn, which aims to offer all the hands-on experience, resources, and training necessary for such people to return.
  • Such programs help to not only tap into the skills and experiences of this group, but also push diversity and inclusion initiatives forward, ultimately letting agencies make their clients happy.

It isn’t easy to return to work after a gap, and maybe even more so in the advertising business.

The very nature of ad agencies — constantly trying to keep up with the rapidly evolving state of modern media, marketing, and technology — makes it hard for people with résumé gaps to make a comeback.

But one ad agency network is trying to make it easier for people who may have left the industry to pull off successful comebacks. 

Advertising group Young & Rubicam is launching its own pilot career reboot program, aimed at parents and caregivers looking to re-enter the marketing and advertising workforce after a gap. Called “PowerOn,” the 12 week-long training program aims to offer all the hands-on experience, resources, and training necessary for such people to kickstart the next chapter of their careers. 

“There has been a greater push toward gender diversity in our industry in recent years, and we know that women in executive roles are especially lacking,” Madeline Park, chief of talent and operations at Young & Rubicam Group, told Business Insider. “We wanted to address that by embracing this untapped pool of talent.”

To be fair, “returnship programs” like these aren’t entirely unheard of. Ad agencies have made some efforts to absorb such talent in recent years.

But most of these programs have been largely one-off and unstructured. Y&R’s program is perhaps one of the first such structured programs, following in the footsteps of Publicis’ SapientNitro (now SapientRazorfish), which pioneered a 10-week “returnship” program in 2015. It is now a formal 12 week  program running in North America, EMEA and India.

The program helps Y&R not only tap into the skills and experiences of this group, but also push its diversity and inclusion initiatives forward and make clients happy. Agencies have been grappling with the task of making their workforces more diverse and heterogeneous, as several big name brands, including HP, Verizon, and General Mills, continue to ramp up their efforts in pushing the diversity agenda forward over the past few years. 

“We have seen our clients too become increasingly focused on diversity, because they as well as their customers are diverse themselves,” said Park. “We wanted to address that as well.”

The program is open to both men and women that held senior positions in the past and have been out for at least five years, particularly those with experience in the fields of account management, strategic planning, and project management. It includes professional workshops, speaker series sessions, mentorship opportunities, and networking as well as several knowledge training sessions. 

The ultimate goal of the program is for the trainees to be absorbed into the company and find placement in full-time positions at Y&R’s various participating ad agencies, including Y&R, Wunderman, Red Fuse, WPP Health and Wellness companies, Sudler & Hennessey, Grey Healthcare, and Hogarth. The program is accepting applications until Dec. 1, 2017 and will begin in January in New York.

“Our metric for success will be hiring 80% if not all the trainees full-time,” said Park. “Our goal is to run an annual program, given the pilot goes successfully.” 

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