Could an Internship Help You Get Back to Work?Could an Internship Help You Get Back to Work?

Seniors are now staying in the workforce longer than ever, but they’re also more likely be out of work for a long time between jobs, especially if they’ve taken time off to care for a child, spouse, or parent. One option for getting back to work, especially for workers who’ve taken time out for family caregiving, is an internship. Internships aren’t just for recent college graduates anymore, and a small but growing number of companies offer programs to help experienced workers re-enter the workforce or change careers.

A program for women returning to the workforce

One program that’s made a media splash is The Enternship, a PR and media program for women returning to work after raising children or retiring from another career. The program, created by Wunderlich Kaplan Communications in New York City, helps women over age 40 learn marketing skills and grow their professional networks. The Enternship is working on tools that women in other parts of the country can use to get back into the game.

More programs for older workers and career changers

The Enternship isn’t the only program for older returning workers. Men and women looking to refresh their skills or retrain for new work can apply for paid internships with other companies, too. iRelaunch, a company that connects returning workers with employers, keeps a list of paid internship options for older workers, both in the US and abroad.

Most of the opportunities on iRelaunch’s list are in banking, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), and general business. There are also programs in healthcare, law, and nonprofits. Even if a company you’re interested in doesn’t run an internship program, an internship might still be an option. iRelaunch’s CEO told the Wall Street Journal that older workers who sense hesitation from a hiring manager can always suggest a time-limited internship that allows both parties to test the waters.

Companies that welcome older workers

Another way to boost your chances of finding the job you want is to focus on potential employers that are upfront about welcoming experienced applicants. AARP keeps a list of nearly 300 US employers that have signed the group’s employer pledge that they “value experienced workers and believe in equal opportunities for workers of all ages.” The list can serve as a starting point for your job search.

You can also check with your local senior center and public library for career resources that connect older workers to employers with internship programs in your area. They may also offer classes to help you brush up on the latest technology and job-hunting best practices to help you land an internship or a job.

Things to consider about internships

Not all internships are paid, and not every internship leads to a firm job offer with the company running the program. Regardless, if you’re lucky enough to land an internship, you should treat it like both a job and a very long audition/job interview. Take notes, listen well, observe the company’s culture and dress code, go out of your way to be helpful, and make as many connections as you can. That way, even if you don’t transition from intern to employee, you’ll have a new and enthusiastic referral network to help you find your first post-internship job.

Ready to learn more? The SeniorAdvisor.com blog now has senior city guides for more than a dozen major metro areas, and each includes information on local senior-friendly job resources.

Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelance writer whose childhood was made awesome by her grandmothers, great-grandmother, great-aunts and -uncles, and their friends.

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