Participant Spotlight: Divya Ambadipudi

Divya Ambadipudi spent four and a half years as a Software Engineer in India and the US before taking a six-year break to care for her children. After deciding to return to work, she applied and was accepted into several Path Forward returnships and chose to return to work at Nutanix, where she now works full-time as a Full Stack Developer. Divya talks about her returnship experience, preparing for her return to work with a nanodegree, and the application she’s most proud of creating at Nutanix.

How many years of experience did you have before you took a career break, and what did you do?
I worked for two years as a Software Engineer in India, and then took a short break while relocating to the US. After relocating, I was working while I earned my Master’s in Computer Science, before taking my “final” break for caregiving. In total, I had about four and a half years of work experience when I took my break.

What prompted you to take your career break?
When I had my first kid, my parents were both working, so I didn’t have the extended support that I felt I needed to keep working. I requested that the company I was working for at the time allow me to work part-time, but it was a pretty traditional company that did not encourage part-time work, so I made the decision to stay home for a while. I started my break in September 2012, and started my returnship in September 2018 – so I was out for exactly six years.

What made you decide to return to the workforce?
Both of my kids were ready to go to school and going out into the world, so I felt that it was time for me to return to work.  

What steps did you take to prepare for your return and what was your job search like before you applied for Path Forward’s returnship program?
I started by trying to find out if I was still interested in programming. I took some software development online courses, and realized that I was still very interested. By the end of 2017, I had started looking for work in the field but had no luck – my gap was too big, and many of the job requirements didn’t meet my exact skills and experience. That was when I decided to enroll in Udacity for a nanodegree in Android Development. After earning my nanodegree, I applied for multiple Path Forward returnships and actually received several offers. I chose to return to work at Nutanix as a Full Stack Developer.  

What is one challenge you faced when returning to work?
At first, it was hard to spend 8 hours programming every day. While earning my nanodegree, I spent about five hours a day on programming, so it was a good transition for me to get from zero to where I am now, but it was still initially hard to spend that many hours at work. I had gotten so used to doing things in small chunks of time, so it was hard to spend time just focused on one thing.

What’s one exciting thing about returning to work?
I love programming and am so glad to be doing it again. It’s nice to feel independent and to contribute financially to the household. While I don’t necessarily let work define me, it does feel good to achieve something outside the home as well.

What did you find most helpful about being part of the Path Forward program during your return to work?
Since my break, the job market has changed, the nature of work has changed, and the Path Forward workshops were so helpful in getting us up to speed with what’s current. It was so inspiring to listen to the Path Forward alumni talk about their stories. It made me feel that even if we don’t get converted into a full-time position, the experience we all gain is so huge. It was also motivating to meet others who were at the same point as me. I even stay in touch with the other Nutanix returnees I worked with.

Do you have any advice for future returnees?
My advice is to get used to the actual routine of working a few months before your actual role begins, so that it’s more of a gradual change. 

What are you most proud of accomplishing during your returnship?
I learned a completely new technology and even created an internal web application by myself, one that reduces the time managers spend on a task from three weeks to one day, which has been very useful internally. I’m proud of having learned enough on the job to create something of my own.