Why an Adult Internship Can Be Good for Your Career
If you’ve been out of the workforce for a period of time, whether it was to raise children, or because you were ill, or simply because of other reasons, there are some interesting options for getting your foot back in the door and finding a new job.
Internships for adults are one way to get back to work.
Often known as “returnships,” adult internships can provide a great way to test out a new job.
And while some intern postings will be targeted towards the younger set, there’s no reason why an adult can’t enjoy the benefits of interning.
What Is an Adult Internship?
Adult internships are a temporary position where workers can gain hands-on experience in a role. Internships can vary in length, but are typically one to three months long and typically part-time hours. Most internships are unpaid, although some may offer an hourly rate.
During an adult internship, a worker may be tasked with independent work, or they may work closely with another employee or manager. Duties can range from more basic tasks, such as administrative work, to more high-level projects, such as writing marketing copy.
The types of workers who pursue adult internships are often “people who are either not currently working or working in a limited capacity, which might include stay-at-home parents or parents returning to work after an extended leave, career changers, people who were laid off or let go from a job, and people who want to ease into retirement and try out new work ideas,” says Brie Reynolds, FlexJobs’ career development manager and career coach.
Benefits of an Adult Internship for Employee and Employer
Companies that offer adult internships stand to gain extra help with duties and tasks that may fall to the wayside. Adult interns may bring to the table many years of experience in a related or even different field, which can offer a company new ways of thinking. Employees at companies with internships can flex their mentorship and teaching muscles by guiding and training an internship worker.
When it comes to workers, Reynolds says: “Regardless of your situation, adult internships help grow your professional network, expand your connections, and refine your career ideas before you take the next step forward.”
Here’s a closer look at the benefits of an internship for adults.
Exploring a Different Career
“Internships provide a number of benefits for adults. If you’re in a situation where you’re returning to work after a break, they can help you gain current experience in a more flexible environment than a full-time job. If you want to train up in some new skills, an internship can help. If you’re changing careers and need to gain skills and experience, they’re helpful,” shares Reynolds.
Interning also provides a safe way in which people can dip their toes into a new industry without making a big financial commitment, such as shelling out big bucks by going back to school. It provides an outlet for workers who feel bored or stuck in their current positions, and a way to explore other career possibilities so they can eventually become unstuck.
Growing Your Network
Internships can provide great connections and possibly even a recommendation if you end up applying for a similar job down the road. Be sure to connect with your coworkers and boss on LinkedIn, and consider asking them for tips on how to find a job in the industry. They may be able to provide you with leads.
Adding to Your Resume
An adult internship can be great to add to your resume. This will show employers that you’re dedicated to learning your new craft. Hands-on experience can go a great way in qualifying you for a job that is outside of your work experience. And, if you have any job gaps on your resume, an internship can fill it.
Landing a New Job
Just like internships sometimes result in a job offer for college grads, so can adult internships. While it should never be expected, it is possible that if you perform at a high level and impress your manager, your internship could lead to a permanent position.
How to Find an Adult Internship
Some companies may post internship opportunities online. Many of those internships may be more geared toward college students looking for course credit, but highlighting your years of work experience, your transferable skills, and your maturity may put you ahead of younger candidates.
“There are many job search websites that offer internships,” says Reynolds. “The Balance recommends these eight sites to find internships. We also highly recommend VolunteerMatch.org, which lists volunteer opportunities that are often similar to an internship. It also lets you sort by virtual or remote opportunities. It’s also possible to find career re-entry, re-launch, or retraining programs designed specifically for experienced professionals and offered by established companies.”
Reach Out to Companies
To find an adult internship, you may have better luck contacting companies directly that you wish to work for. If they already offer regular internships to entry-level candidates, you may have better luck selling your case.
If you find a company that you’d love to work for but isn’t currently hiring interns, that doesn’t mean that you can’t work for them. “If you don’t find a specific listing from an employer, try to find the contact information for the person in charge of the department you’d like to intern in,” suggests Reynolds.
“For example, if you’d like to do an internship in digital marketing, you might find the digital marketing director of a small company and reach out. Write a cover letter that briefly explains why you’re seeking an internship, what you hope to be able to do, and the value you can also offer as an adult intern.”
Join an Association and Network
You can also check with your alumni association to see if there are any interesting internships being offered. An old college mate or professor may be able to provide leads.
Consider finding a professional association related to the new industry you want to join. These groups often meet weekly or monthly and provide a great way to mingle and connect with others in your desired career area.
Tapping your own network can be a good idea as well. Using LinkedIn or Twitter to search and post about your desire for an adult internship may be fruitful.
Preparing for an Adult Internship
Before you start the first day of your internship, you should know ahead of time what you’d like to get out of it. Your expectations and goals should be clearly defined and communicated with your boss ahead of time. Topics such as your hours, responsibilities, learning opportunities, and your boss’ expectations should be mutually agreed upon by both of you.
While the goal of many interns is to turn your internship into a full-time job, there will most likely be no guarantees that will happen. Companies don’t want interns or volunteers to come with the agenda of potentially getting hired for a regular job. Rather, they want you to learn, grow, show passion for their mission, and become a part of the team. By doing all those things, you’re showing them you’d be a worthwhile hire without needing to say it.
That said, you should definitely make the most of your internship! Your goal should be to learn as much as you possibly can, take advantage of any opportunities given to you, grow your network, and above all, decide if this is a field that you would really love to continue on in.
What to Do After Your Adult Internship
Similar to after an interview, sending a thank-you note is good protocol once your adult internship ends. Thank the company for the opportunity to work alongside them and learn this new role.
This could also be a good time to add your contacts from the internship to LinkedIn or Twitter. Sending periodic messages to say hello and ask for an update on a project you worked on during your internship can keep those relationships alive. Not to mention, staying in touch can make it easier to ask for a recommendation if you need one in the future.
Don’t forget to include your adult internship information on your resume and cover letter. This added experience can beef up your work history and show that you’re an eager learner. Hiring managers are likely to be impressed you invested the time into learning your new role in a hands-on way.
When it comes time to apply for a job, FlexJobs has over 50 different career categories, giving you plenty of options. All of our jobs have some component of flexibility, such as freelance, remote work, flexible schedules, or part-time jobs.
Photo Credit: bigstockphoto.com
A version of this article was originally published on May 1, 2014.
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Jennifer Parris, FlexJobs Career Writer
Jennifer comes from corporate America… and a four-hour daily commute! Now, as a Career Writer for FlexJobs , she commutes to the corner office (in her house, that is) in under 60 seconds! Says Jennifer: “I’ve always been a writer,…Read More >
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