How Momentum Supports Women Returning to the Workforce

By Jes­si­ca Mitsch ● September 14, 2022

Returning to the workforce after time off is not cut-and-dry; there are challenges that come with a gap in one’s employment history. From new software and technologies to new ways of thinking, the workplace is an ever-evolving environment. Supporting women as they return to work is important to us, especially for women choosing to explore a future tech career by joining a coding program like Momentum. And as a primarily female-run organization, Momentum prides itself on its women-supporting-women mentality. 

Highlighted below are the inspiring stories of Momentum staff members, Amy Gori and Katie Dunn. 

Amy Gori's Story

Momentum’s Director of Engineering and Instruction, Amy Gori, is a native New Yorker who made her way to North Carolina for graduate school. She earned a Ph.D. in English, concentrating in the literature of the Renaissance and 17th century from UNC-Chapel Hill, and spent some time working in administration for the undergraduate College of Arts & Sciences.  

After a few years, Amy took a break from full-time work in order to be a full-time parent to her first child. At that point, she was single-mindedly devoted to advancing her career, and before she left on maternity leave, she was involved in important projects at work that she cared a lot about. But when her son came along, her priorities shifted radically, and she wanted to spend as much time possible with her children.  

Five or so years later, Amy began to feel like it was time to return to work full-time. By then, her two children needed her in new and different ways than before, and she had some time and space to think about her next steps. For Amy, her true wakeup call was when her son did a Mother's Day project, where they had to fill in the blanks with all the things they knew about their mother, and at least three of her son’s answers had some version of her doing laundry. Amy realized she wanted her kids to see more of who she was as a role model, not solely as a homemaker, and she was intellectually starving for a challenge. 

Learn­ing to code at Durham’s first code school, Amy arrived in tech through a non-tra­di­tion­al path. Her academic background is strictly arts and humanities; she never took classes in anything technical in her formal education and always had a bit of a math phobia. But after finding and completing code school, she worked as a soft­ware devel­op­er in a vari­ety of pro­fes­sion­al and vol­un­teer roles before joining Momentum. As Amy put it, “It was like a series of fortunate events that led me right to this fantastic new opportunity.” 

Katie Dunn's Story

Momentum’s Director of Career Development, Katie Dunn, received her MBA from Georgetown and worked as a Marketing Manager at IBM for five years before leaving the workforce for over a decade. Katie took 13 years off full-time work to raise her four children, and during that time off, Katie had a part-time position at the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. This role in MBA Admissions allowed Katie to work from home, which provided flexibility while she raised her children. 

By the time all her kids were in school, Katie was ready to return to full-time work. However, she was surprised to discover how challenging this transition from part-time to full-time was. As she spoke with the smart, successful, and accomplished women she knew, she realized this was a common problem. While Katie went back to work full-time at Kenan-Flagler in the MBA Career Center, she felt inspired to dig deeper and find a solution to this problem on the side. 

As a result, Katie started Back to Business in 2015 to help women returning to the workforce connect with companies that want to hire from this amazing talent pool. This conference has been a successful way to educate women about conducting a job search while helping them network with employers, and the sixth annual Back to Business Women’s Conference is coming up on September 23rd.   

Around the same time she started the conference in 2015, Katie saw the job opening for a Director of Career Development at Momentum. She reached out to Co-Founder and CEO Jessica Mitsch-Homes, interviewed with the team, and got the job. Katie said, “I always enjoyed the overlap between working in career services and the work I’m doing with Back to Business – it's all about helping awesome people find a great job, especially the career switchers!” 

We’re Here to Help 

Many women restarting their careers after a break do so in a different field than they previously worked in. Re-entering the workforce can be a great opportunity for a fresh start! There is a place for women in tech, and with a supportive community, things that seem impossible aren't.  

The doors opened so much wider than I ever expected, and a whole world that I never really knew existed - the world of building software - opened up to me. - Amy Gori

The key to being successful is to get the training you need to be a viable candidate in your new field, and Momentum can help folks looking to move into tech careers with our immersive software development course. Refreshing your skills or acquiring new ones provides evidence to employers that you have a growth mindset and are eager to learn. Tech careers can be a great place for people juggling work and family with the flexibility and ability to work from home in many roles. Learn more about how Momentum can help you seamlessly return to the workforce and make the switch to tech today.