Is a later-in-life internship right for you?
Remember the movie The Intern? It wasn’t full of superheroes throwing trucks or giant dinosaurs eating people, but it was a great flick nonetheless.
Robert De Niro plays a retired executive who has trouble adjusting to his empty schedule and decides to join a senior citizen intern program. The film is hilarious, but has plenty of heart, too.
Ok, enough with the film review (although, yeah, you should absolutely see it). The interesting bit here is that The Intern is not too far off the mark. Plenty of people, not just seniors, are looking to get back into the workforce. In fact, many of those over the age of 40 have chosen to explore internships (or returnships, as some folks call them).
Here’s what Carol Fishman Cohen, CEO of iRelaunch, an organization dedicated to assisting people with re-entry into the workforce, had to say on Today.
“These are a great vehicle for people returning to work. The word ‘internship’ is just a label, but it really covers any kind of short-term, non-binding work arrangement.”
Not convinced? It’s true that not getting any sort of payor compensation can make the concept hard to swallow. However, here are a few reasons you might want to try a later-in-life internship.
When you spend years out of the workforce, the world keeps on moving. Industries change, new technology is created, and cultural values shift. The workplace is constantly evolving, and the place you left behind could be completely different in just a few short years.
An internship allows you to learn about all of these changes without being overwhelmed by a full-time job. You can continue to learn and develop as you practice your craft.
Although there is a trend of older interns popping up here and there, they are still relatively rare on a per company basis. That makes you stand out as someone unique. Which makes you memorable, which makes the connections you form at your internship all the more valuable. If there isn’t a full-time position available at the end of your internship and that’s something you’re interested in, these individuals could help you find something at a different company.
There are also professional organizations available for aspiring interns to join. National Intern Today has a great list!
Freedom to Explore
Maybe you don’t know what you want to do. You’ve had kids, watched them grow, and now you’re ready for that next step. You didn’t hate the job you had before kids but it would be great to try something new. Internships allow you to do that.
You can start an internship in a completely different field. Or start in something you know fairly well and branch out.
In an article on Stuff, Lorna Hendry, a graphic designer, talks about her experience as an intern for a children’s publisher after traveling around Australia with her family for three years.
“The internship was annoying initially because the publisher was keen to use my design and art skills, which I was trying to leave behind. I was getting really grumpy because I felt that was not what I was there for. I whinged to the staff member who organised the internship and she encouraged me to stick it out. Within a week the publisher asked me if I’d like to write a book for them about penguins. And who wouldn’t want to do that? How good are penguins!?”
Have you ever held a later-in-life internship position? How did you handle it? Let us know in the comments section below!