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You’re Never Too Old For an Internship

You’re Never Too Old For an Internship
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BY MYRA FAYE TURNER

I got the idea for this article after recently watching The Intern, starring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway. De Niro stars as a 70-year-old retired widower who goes to work at Hathaway’s online clothing store after the company invites senior citizens to apply for its internship program. It’s a poignant movie with a fair amount of laughs. When I finished watching the movie, I wondered if programs like this existed in the real world. Always the writer, after some digging, I found my answer.

Internships are no longer a young person’s domain. Many mid-life adults are snagging internships as a way to learn new skills, especially when transitioning from another career or if they have been out of the workforce for several years.

Although internships have come under fire lately because many are unpaid — in essence companies are getting free labor from students in exchange for college credit or from new grads looking for real-world experience —an internship, paid or otherwise, can be a way for mid-lifers to re-enter the workforce or switch careers. Plus, many paid opportunities are out there, if you are willing to do the work to find them.

Despite the legality of non-paid internships and even the negative connotation of the term, if you are a mid-lifer looking to return to work and want to brush up on you skills, you should keep in mind that an internship is an option. There are a number of paid programs geared toward older workers. I’ve put together a list to get your started.

Goldman Sachs Returnship Program

Goldman Sachs coined the term “returnship” when they launched a program in 2008, aimed at helping individuals ease back into the work world after an absence of at least two years. The program is a ten-week, paid opportunity to explore the different divisions within the company. Returnships are available both in the United States and at Goldman Sachs’ offices globally. Participants have the chance to learn new skills and/or to sharpen skills that may have gone rusty during their absence from the workforce.

MetLife

Act2 is MetLife’s signature return to work initiative. The ten-week, paid internship offers individuals the chance to decide if they are truly ready to return to work after an extended absence. Participants work in various departments where they learn new skills or sharpen old ones. They also have access to both a mentor and an on-the-job buddy that will help smooth the transition back to work. MetLife has a major U.S. presence, so there’s probably a location in your community, if you’re interested in this program.

Education Pioneers

Although not specifically aimed at older adults, if you have an interest in possibly working in the education field, Education Pioneer’s Summer Fellowship is an opportunity you may want to look into. This paid, ten-week opportunity places fellows with education organizations and schools where they have the chance to work in a variety of roles. Applicants must have a graduate degree or be enrolled in a graduate program, but again, they don’t explicitly state an age-restriction. The organization also offers Career Track Fellowships that generally runs ten-months or longer. Participants also have the opportunity to gain full-time placement after the completion of their fellowships. But please note, these fellowships are highly competitive. However, an older applicant with more experience may have a leg up on a younger one.

AmeriCorps Vista

AmeriCorps is a popular program for students because they not only receive a stipend during their year of service, but an education award upon completion of their term. Although the age requirements for the regular program is 18-24, the AmeriCorps Vista program has no upper age limit cap. The only requirement is that you are able to commit to a year of service. In exchange, you can learn new skills while serving your community and receive a living allowance. The education award is also available, so if you’re planning to return to school (or attend for the first time), this program could be a good resource for you. The allowance varies by location. For example, the 2015 rate for the New Orleans area was $447.86 bi-weekly; in New York, it was $587.30. The current education award is $ 5,775.00, for full-time service.

Regular Internships

Unless an internship specifically states an upper age limit, it’s perfectly okay for you to apply for an advertised opportunity. If you saw Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson’s 2013 movie, The Internship, two middle-aged, unemployed salesmen land coveted internships at Google. This is not as far-fetched as it sounds but keep in mind, some internships are highly sought out and tough to achieve with only a limited number of slots available. And although a company won’t tell you to your face— and risk the possibility of an age discrimination lawsuit— the person making the decision may be more inclined to hire a young, college student than an older seasoned professional. But it’s not impossible.

What you need to do is read the eligibility requirements and if you meet them, it won’t hurt to apply. Some internships seek college students and offer class credit, so that would put you out of the running unless you’ve decided to return to school (or attend for the first time).

There are several resources online where you can look for internships. Popular sites include:

  • Idealist especially if you’re looking to work in the non-profit field
  • A comprehensive list can be found at com
  • Check the major job board like Indeed and Monster and don’t forget LinkedIn

Do a Google search using terms like, “returnship programs”, “internships for adults”, etc. You’ll have to slog through a lot of returns but you might find an opportunity that fits you. Keep in mind that finding an internship takes time and determination just like finding a regular job. But with a bit of persistence, you can find the perfect fit and possibly a new career. Happy hunting!

 

 

 

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