June 27, 2019

Employee Spotlight: Tcheula Lienou - How I Returned to Work After 10 Years as a Stay-at-Home-Mom

Tcheula Lienou describes herself as a “daughter, sister, friend, wife and mother of three boys.” And now, after 10 years as a stay-at-home mom, she’s added electrical engineer back to her list. 

Lienou took time off her career to raise her sons after she graduated with a Master’s in electrical engineering in 2009. She says when her youngest started Kindergarten two years ago, she started seriously looking for a job. But every interviewer took serious issue with her ‘career gap’.

“I had been diligently looking for an engineering position with zero success,” she said. “The ‘gap’ on my resume was a big deal to potential employers, and I was never able to technically explain what I had been working on for the last 10 years.”

Then, she found Ingersoll Rand’s EngineeringRelaunch program. EngineeringRelaunch is “a 12-week, paid professional ‘returnship’ opportunity for engineers who have stepped away from their careers and are ready to put their passion back to work.” It was started when Ingersoll Rand realized the lack of opportunities for professionals looking to rejoin the workforce in the critical mid-career stage.

The program provides opportunities for professional development, mentoring, training, and networking. Relaunch professionals work with senior engineers on challenging projects that are tied to Ingersoll Rand's current products and new products, and are trusted with a wide range of work and responsibilities. 

Lienou refers to the EngineeringRelaunch program as “an out-of-this-world experience” from the interview process. In her interview, she met with three VPs of Engineering and says she walked away knowing the leadership at Ingersoll Rand was “top notch.” The actual program only solidified this; she and her cohort felt they could not have been placed with better managers, advisors and units. She says the expectations for success were clear from day one, and that she felt well-aligned for consideration for a full-time position. 

She says her work during the program was highly valued, recounting one instance where she stepped up and provided necessary support to her busy team so their tools could be tested for FCC certification. She also credits the program with helping her dust off her technical skills and make a smooth transition back into engineering. 

But one of the less considered benefits of a program like EngineerRelaunch? The emotional benefits. Lienou says she made great friends during the program; she was surrounded by supportive women who had similar experiences. She says the people at Ingersoll Rand focused on her well-being, too. 

“We had lunch every Tuesday with our Relaunch team managers or our advisor or our executive sponsor… The constant theme in this Tuesday gathering was our well-being. Were we adjusting ok? Was there anything they could do to help us adjust better? We were always encouraged to reach out any time something ever came up. I am very thankful to everyone that has so graciously invested in me in this program.”

Lienou says returning to work in front of her sons has been a joyful experience. 

“Being a mother is a big deal to me. I feel very responsible for the success of my children. Interestingly they had never seen me work out of the home. They didn’t even know I was an engineer… The message I gave to my kids in returning back to work  was nothing is impossible, regardless of how long it takes.”

When Lienou was asked for her best advice for women relaunching their careers, she started by encouraging them to apply to the EngineeringRelaunch program. Then, she emphasized “owning” your experience and communicating your needs. 

“My advice would be for you to own the program as early as possible… Don’t be afraid or shy. Over-communicate with your manager and team, ask questions and give your best all the time.”

Ingersoll Rand is currently recruiting ReLaunch candidates for a 12-week mechanical or electrical engineering returnship and a 12-week electrical, software, or computer science engineering returnship. All programs start in September 2019. To learn more, read their Engineering Relaunch web page. 

“It still feels amazing to have good paycheck from doing engineering work,” Lienou said. “Thanks IR!” 


Interested in ReLaunching your career? Apply today!

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