Internships Are Not Only For The Young
February 14, 2018
When you hear the word internship, it’s fairly common to conjure up an image of a young coed working long hours for peanuts, so s/he can gain a little bit of experience to add to his/her resume. I want to challenge that image because internships aren’t just for career-hungry college students. In fact, internships are great for anyone who is looking to break into an industry regardless of age, to get that needed experience.
For those of you unable to leave your current job to take an internship to transition to another field or industry, don’t let that stop you. Be creative! A few years ago, one of my students knew the only way to break into the publishing industry was to get an internship, but she worked full-time in the admissions office. She didn’t let that stop her. She found a literary agent who would work with her virtually and didn’t care that she completed her internship work in the evenings and on weekends, so long as it was completed. To be fair, this was not a full-time internship, she worked about 20 hours per week, and I won’t lie, it was a tough a 13 weeks, but she did it, and that experience opened the doors to positions that would have otherwise been off limits.
So how do you find an internship when you are in your late 20s, 30s, or even 40s? It really is no different than finding one while in college – it’s all about networking – but first you need to understand your expectations and limitations. For example, if you can only do a virtual internship, then don’t pursue ones that are face-to-face. Be honest about the amount of time you can devote to an internship. If you have a family, discuss this with them. You should expect to work hard, and in all honesty, you will likely have to limit some other things in your life to make this happen.
To begin, go to your network. Who do you know in the new and appealing industry? Start setting up informational interviews, ask about internships, follow-up on all leads, and as I noted above, understand your strengths, weaknesses, as well as your limitations – be able to discuss them, confidently. Develop a deep understanding of what skills are required and preferred, etc. in the industry, and then re-write your resume to speak to which of those skills you possess.
As you begin to identify potential companies, re-work your network and apply through back channels. This will give you the opportunity to demonstrate how your current skills can be leveraged in an internship to contribute while you learn. This is more easily communicated through back channels and introductions than in a generic cover letter attached to a resume and submitted on a portal.
Don’t dismiss the idea of an internship just because of your age and your experience. It's still a great way to transition to another industry – remember – be creative!
Anne Converse Willkomm
Assistant Clinical Professor
Department Head of Graduate Studies