Internships have traditionally been filled by college student looking for professional experience prior to graduation with an opportunity to gain college credits in lieu of compensation. With unemployment running high and more workers switching jobs several times throughout the span of their careers, it is more common now to find middle-aged professionals, particularly unemployed job seekers, vying for these internships.
In addition to the new or enhanced skills that you stand to gain through an internship, the experience can also place you in a favorable light with prospective employers. Upon hearing about your internship, a hiring manager is likely to perceive you as someone with initiative who has spent your time off wisely. Another plus of an internship is that you avoid potential work history gaps on your resume.
If you’re a middle-aged worker seeking an internship, be prepared for a company representative to question why you’re willing to take an unpaid position after having worked for pay for several years. In response, you might state that you’re willing to take an unpaid internship position to gain valuable experience and skills for landing a future job.
Before accepting an internship, be sure that expectations are clearly defined. If possible, document the expectations of both parties in a formal internship agreement to be signed by you and a representative of the company with whom you’ll be interning.
College students have known it, but middle-aged workers are just discovering that internships can be a valuable and rewarding experience. Also, internships are a great way to explore and test out a new career. In some cases, an internship may result in a job offer from the company with whom you’re interning. But minimally, it should give you the competitive edge you need to land a job offer in today’s very challenging job market.