Internship, returnship™, fellowship, mentorship; whatever you call it, it’s about recognizing and fostering the talents of mature professionals as they transition through the workplace.
The new Warner Bros. movie, The Intern, is shining a light on the subject of adult internships, which really do exist. Programs to help retired professionals give back and stay engaged, like the the 70-year-old intern in the film, generally fall under the category of fellowships and mentorships, but adult internships are available and they’re not just for retirees. Adult internships have been providing vital career opportunities for pre-retirement men and women for the past several years—professionals who want to change fields or re-enter the workforce after putting their careers on hold.
[50+ and interested in earning an online degree? Attend a free live online Open House.]
In 2008, Goldman Sachs trademarked the term “returnship” which described their pioneering program to help women return to the workplace after taking time off to raise their families. Since then returnships, or adult internships, have been slowly gaining in popularity. Combine the attention adult internship programs are likely to receive via the new movie with the recent the media attention being paid to the benefits of hiring older workers, and the time to strike is now if you want to score an internship of your own. I believe the publicity surrounding this film will help more employers open up to the idea of hiring adult interns.
3 Ways to Find an Adult Internship
A quick internet search will reveal at least 14 major companies that host some version of an adult internship program in the U.S., but many more smaller programs can be found if you’re willing to dig around. Some websites have also cropped up in recent years to help career-changing adults find these opportunities. As the beneficiary of an adult internship myself, I recently posted The Ultimate Guide to Adult Internships and Returnships to help others seek out these valuable resources. It may take some work to find one that’s right for you, but here’s a sample of what you can find in the guide:
- Internship websites
iRelaunch is one of the websites that devotes itself to helping professionals relaunch their careers after taking a break. iRelaunch provides information on re-entry internship programs currently being offered by employers. In addition, the website offers helpful resources including career coaching, conferences, and virtual return-to-work bootcamps. You can also read inspirational success stories about people who have benefited from iRelaunch’s help.
- Networking events
Networking is still the best way to get your foot in an employer’s door, and it’s no different if you’re looking for a job or an adult internship. I found my internship with LearningAdvisor.com through a tip my husband heard at a networking event he attended. When I came on board as a 50-year-old intern, LearningAdvisor was being built as a portal to collect the best online learning resources from around the internet to offer them to a 50+ audience interested in either updating their professional skills, or learning just for fun through free and low-cost online classes. With a communications degree and a twenty year gap in my résumé (while I was raising my family), it was the perfect opportunity for me to re-train in my industry and make new connections. Since I literally was the target audience, I fit right in.
One of the best places for you to start networking is on LinkedIn, and if you’re not already a member, you should be. With more than 380 million users, LinkedIn is the largest online professional networking site by a long shot. It is important to have a LinkedIn profile if you’re job searching in the current market since both employers and recruiters check it for up-to-date information on prospective employees. It is also a community where you can follow companies you’re interested in working for, or join groups based on your interests. If you actively engage other members by participating in discussion forums, you’ll have the chance to root out information about internships as well as jobs.
- Job Boards
Many online job boards post internship opportunities as well as job openings. Use a job site’s search function to look for internships specifically. Internships.com has a search engine devoted solely to finding them. The trick to answering these listings is that many of them, if not most, are geared toward recent college graduates. It will be your job to convince companies that an older intern has benefits to offer that they may not have considered. With the help of the publicity generated by “The Intern,” they may be more receptive to your pitch than ever before. Write them a cover letter extolling your virtues as an older worker—a strong work ethic, company loyalty, and demonstrated leadership skills are just a few of the traits that have been identified as reasons to hire mature employees. And if you need more ideas, go see “The Intern” for inspiration.
Participating in an adult internship is a perfect way to advance your skills through on-the-job training while building your resume and making contacts in a new industry (or making new contacts in an “old” industry). As you search around and discover opportunities for adult internships, I invite you to add them to The Ultimate Guide to Adult Internships and Returnships by using the comment section. My hope is that together, we can make this an ever-evolving, current, and useful resource for adults seeking internship opportunities.