Adventures of a 50-Year-Old Intern: Returning to Work

The first installment in a series of six.
Posted by on Wed, Mar 13, 2013

b-day 1 The first in a series of weekly installments. Check back each Wednesday for more.

As someone who left the full-time job market in the late 1980s to raise a family, I can tell you that the most important thing to know if you’re going back to work like I am is that the computer is definitely king.

When I was called into my first meeting at Student Advisor, I brought my pad of paper and pen into a room where six younger people sat with their laptop computers at the ready—to take notes, as well as to instantly access any information that might be needed. When we spoke of marketing strategies, the discussion turned around social media marketing, and the team of technical people who keep the website up and running outnumbers the content staff.

This was, however, not completely unexpected. You see, the reason I am working at Student Advisor is to get some real-world experience in the new computer-driven world that is today’s employment market.

I actually started trying to rebuild my resume about six years ago when my oldest child was entering his senior year in high school. I found part-time work as a photographer at a local newspaper chain. Although I worked mostly outside the office, I took every chance I got to fill in at other roles when people were away from work in order to learn new computer-oriented skills including Photoshop, Word, and a production program called Quark.

[Did you know you can earn college credit for life experience?]

At home, I grew to use the computer more and more, and I downloaded what free software I could. I eventually gave up the notion that there would ever be manuals to read (in the traditional book sense), and with encouragement from my kids (and by encouragement I mean laughing, pointing and eye-rolling) I learned to just dive in and try things out to find out how computer programs worked. If you grew up in the “Don’t touch that!” generation like I did, when we were warned that pushing mysterious buttons could result in serious consequences like the stopping of elevators, wide-spread panic, and nuclear war, then you understand how difficult it can be to click something on the computer screen when you’re not sure of what’s going to happen.

But we’re all still here, so clearly nothing blew up and that leads me to today. After studying employment ads to see what else was being required in my field these days, I realized that social media marketing was an important area I lacked experience in. I found out (through my husband’s LinkedIn network) that StudentAdvisor was hiring interns and luckily for me—a mother of five college-age children who is looking to get back into a career—I fit in nicely with SA’s target demographic. So here I am sharing my journey with you as a fifty-year old intern who now has her own profile on LinkedIn, as well as company Facebook, Google Plus and Pinterest accounts to manage, in addition to over a half dozen work-related logins to remember. I think I’m ready to start tweeting now too—maybe with this article!

I truly believe there is a place for everyone in this job market, and it’s not age that counts as much as your willingness and ablility to learn new skills. Whether you choose to go back to college for community education classes, learn online, watch YouTube tutorials, or read books (maybe on a Kindle?)—the only way to get back into the job market in the computer age is by embracing the computer. Don’t worry, you won’t blow anything up—probably.

For more of Diane’s insights on returning to work click on these links:

Read part 2: Adventures of a 50-Year- Old Intern: The Comfort Zone

Read part 3: Adventures of a 50-Year-Old Intern: Managing the Internet

Read part 4: Adventures of a 50-Year-Old Intern: The Workplace Generation Gap

Read part 5: Adventures of a 50-Year-Old Intern: Do I Need a LinkedIn Profile Photo?

Read part 6: Adventures of a 50-Year-Old Intern: What You Should Know about Workplace Harassment

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