Internships: They're Not Just for the College Kiddos!
Posted 4/19/2013 11:36:00 AM

So you’ve been to college. Got the job but….

You hate it.

Maybe it’s not that. Perhaps you just discovered you can’t go as far up as you'd like or things have gone in a different direction. What do you do? While going back to school may be wise, how do you gain tangible experience? Through the “I” word: internships.

It may not seem feasbile – especially with bills, being 30 or over, but it is happeneing more often. Of course you need to ask some questions. For starters:

  • How practical is this? Can you afford to take a lower-paid or unpaid internship? Or can you still keep your full-time gig? If not, how will you pay bills?

  • Will the internship benefit you with a possible job opportunity? Taking a step back to work as an intern is a bit of a risk. But internships should be valuable experiences, especially in an industry or field where you don’t have much or any experience.

  • Are you willing to suck up your pride and start again? You may suck your teeth and feel like a college kid, but some places take on graduates and older non-traditional students gladly! Maturity is one factor.

Just in time for the topic, Madame Noire had a great piece on this exact subject. In the article, “1 Step Back, 2 Steps Forward: Internships at Any Age” by Ashley Iman, peep what she had to say for older interns:

1. You’re More Experienced

This isn’t your first time around. You know what to expect in an office setting and can avoid making some of the classic intern mistakes. (Can anyone say flip flops at work?) Your general know-how and inside knowledge of workplace culture will easily make you a go-to in the office.

2. You’re More Confident

This pro builds off of the previous one. Younger interns are generally afraid of making mistakes or being too assertive. Wisdom comes with years, and so does confidence. You don’t have time for games you know exactly what you want. Your confidence allows others to have confidence in you. Have an honest conversation with your supervisor and tell them want you’re looking to get out of this internship. They’ll respect your confidence and will keep you in mind for key projects that could help you get to that next step.

3. Internships Are Flexible

Internships tend to be more flexible. You can set your own hours and generally work at your own pace. Unfortunately, internships also tend to be unpaid so if that’s the case make sure you have your priorities straight. When you’re in the office give 100% but you can’t be in the office 100% of the time for little to no pay. If you are making the choice to do an unpaid internship pursue grants and other forms of funding. There are a lot of organizations out there that will pay for your living expenses while you work an unpaid internship provided that you write a good proposal.

4. Great For A New Career & Re-entering The Workforce After A Hiatus

If you’re starting a new career, an internship is a great way to get a feel for the work culture and type of work you’ll be doing. Internships, or this case, “returnships,” are also great for those returning to the workforce. If you choose to leave the workforce to raise your children, I would absolutely recommend pursuing a part-time internship just to stay in the loop.

5. Your Life/Career Experience Makes You More Valuable.

The final reason why older interns tend to be better interns is because they just know more. Previous work and life experience make older interns more versatile and useful. For those switching careers, your past skills are your biggest strength. No matter what the switch is. I recently met a woman that was switching from elementary education to accounting. Her experiences as an elementary school teacher, though not immediately obvious, were vital for her new career. She was incredibly vigilant, organized, and creative (you have to be when you’re responsible for 30 some-odd kids.) All of these skills made her wonderful accountant and miles ahead of the younger interns.

So think about it. If you are willing to switch fields, you have to start somewhere – even if it means being an intern. If you think, “No, way! I don’t want to be a glorified errand girl/boy!” Think again. That’s a myth more often than not. For more internship myths at any age, click here!


Posted By: Julee Jonez  

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