If you’re an out-of-work boomer, finding a job can be a real challenge. Many companies are reluctant to hire workers over 50. Whether it’s meeting your salary demands, health reasons, or your outdated tech knowledge, to most firms, you’re simply unemployable. So it’s not surprising that more job-seeking boomers are turning to internships to “get back in the game.”
Internships Not Just for the Young
Many outplaced seniors think that internships are reserved for recent college grads and young job seekers. But that’s changed in this economy. “With the tightening of the job market, people of all ages have been looking for ways to enhance their skills,” says Marci Alboher, author of One Person/Multiple Careers: A New Model for Work/Life Success. And internships, she adds, are a good way to transition, regardless of your age. A 2011 CareerBuilder study revealed that 75 percent of employers would consider overqualified candidates. “We're now seeing people at all ages and life stages tweaking or changing careers throughout their lives, often repeatedly,” notes Alboher.
If you’re an outplaced boomer who’s been out of work for six months to a year, an internship can add “employability currency” to your résumé. "Since so many employers base initial hiring decisions on a piece of paper, you want to make that paper as appealing as possible," says career transition specialist Dan Moran on Greater Grads. "An internship will add experience in your chosen field right at the top of your résumé."
Landing the Internship
Seniors seeking internships should start their search early, connect online and in person with companies offering internships, and stay open-minded. Network through family and friends. If a firm you like doesn’t offer an internship program, don’t be afraid to be the first to create one. Rosemary Haefner, HR VP at CareerBuilder suggests looking into charities or small start-ups, as “organizations with limited budgets are often especially receptive to the extra help an intern provides.”
An Internship for Older Fellows
The Encore Fellowships program taps successful, highly skilled, experienced professionals transitioning from midlife careers to nonprofit organizations. Fellows earn a stipend during their year-long stint, providing a high value-to-cost ratio for work hosts. Many Fellows become role models for other staff members as executive coaches and mentors. It’s one way to bring experienced, affordable talent to a specific assignment geared to the fellow’s skills and interests.
Think internships are only for college kids? Think again. Plan ahead. Connect. And intern yourself into a job.
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