When TD's Jen Starkey gave birth to her daughter, she knew her life was going to change. She couldn't see herself continuing her banking career with a newborn, especially knowing her husband also had a very demanding job.
After much consideration, Jen and her husband agreed it made the most sense for her to stay home. "I didn't feel like I had a lot of options," said Jen. "I certainly don't regret it and it was definitely the right decision for me."
When her daughter was five, the Starkey family moved from North to South New Jersey. With this move came another one, a new home for their personal finances. They settled on a bank that was closest to them, Commerce Bank (now TD Bank).
"It had such a unique environment; it was like a party every time I went in." Jen went on to say, "They were so personable, everyone knew me, my husband, and my daughter." It was that unique experience and culture that led Jen to consider applying for a job there, at their suggestion, when her daughter started Kindergarten.
She decided to apply and restarted her career as a part-time Credit Analyst. Back when Jen reentered the workforce, no program existed like what TD Bank has now, with Career Relaunch. "I ultimately came back but had to take a more entry level job to make it work," she explained. "Programs like we have today just weren't available at that time."
In her time at TD, she has held eight different roles over twenty years. Currently she is a Regional Vice President in South Florida, a role she has enjoyed for almost six years. There her focus is on helping customers, developing her colleagues, and making a difference in the community—a pillar of TD Bank's culture.
Three years ago, when TD started their Career Relaunch program, Jen was immediately brought on as a mentor for program participants. Her vast experience, both as a woman who reentered the workforce, and as someone who has a passion for mentoring other women, were important to program organizers.
In fact, that passion existed long before Jen had her daughter. Her banking career started with a real focus on training, something that made a lot of sense considering she went to school to be a teacher. "I hired a group of mothers that were returning to the workforce and was responsible for creating and implementing a training course for them." Jen knew they would succeed and was excited to encourage them." I told them, 'We will teach you what you need to know, you just need to trust that you've got this.'"
Under Jen's tutelage, they excelled – outperforming their colleagues despite significantly shorter hours. This experience, combined with her experience as a mother, and knowledge she gained firsthand reentering the workforce made her the perfect mentor for colleagues enrolling in the Career Relaunch program.
Now, in addition to her Career Relaunch support, she is passionate about helping Women Business Owners succeed. "There is a common theme that women tend to use their own money before borrowing money or asking for an investment." Jen went on to explain, "It's so important to work with Women Business owners and explain how debt can be a good thing for their business, the best time to ask for money is before you need it, not when you have exhausted all of your own resources."
Career Relaunch at TD Bank
TD's Career Relaunch program has been serving countless men and women since it started in 2020. It is focused on recruiting people who have taken a voluntary career break and want to reenter the workforce.
The program provides two weeks of training when colleagues start to ensure they have training in both general knowledge for working at TD and skills specific to their role. Colleagues are assigned a "peer buddy" in their business along with a senior leader mentor (like Jen Starkey) and a Career Relaunch alumni mentor.
Career Relaunch participants also receive dedicated support from TD's Human Resources and iRelaunch, an organization that is TD's partner for the program.
For other women looking to reenter the workforce, Jen has some advice, "It is so important to have confidence in yourself. Allow yourself the grace and time to learn. The organization will give you the time and knowledge, you are smart, you are intelligent, you have the skills and knowledge you already developed before you paused your career. You will learn what you need to learn, just have confidence."