30 Year Old Intern

by Katie Gatto

The 30 year old intern. No its not a poorly planned sequel to the 40 year old virgin, for many career changers in a tight market its a real possibility. Most recent college students have, at one time or another, at least considered an internship in order to beef up an otherwise puny resume. If you're older however, the concept of an internship seems like a step backwards.

The truth is that internships aren't just about getting three easy credits on your transcript. There is the real life value of adding experience to your resume. Depending on your target field, that internship could yield some really valuable experience, or you could end up getting everyone's coffee. Even in the coffee scenario there is value in taking on an internship. You get three very valuable things: a real world perspective of the field, contacts, and the opportunity to strut your stuff to a potential employer.

Lets start with a real world perspective of the industry. Many jobs seem like they would be a blast. Who wouldn't want to work for a newspaper. You get to see your name in writing and know what’s going on before everyone else. It seems glamorous. That is, until you get stuck working the local politics beat, which means that you have to attend every city and county meeting, no matter how boring the topic. After spending a couple of Friday nights with the zoning board, you might reconsider if this career fits your lifestyle.

Next lets take a look at contacts. Its a well known fact that the secret underground of the job search world in networking. There are even sites now that help people to network like: Linked In (linked in profile for John Hunter - CEO of curiouscat.com ltd.), ryze and meet up. Contacts can help to make your aware of new job openings, serve as references or simply give you the low down about the real culture and expectations of a company.

Last, but most certainly not least is the opportunity to strut your stuff to a potential employer. Many companies prefer to hire previous interns because they know that the intern understands the functioning of the company, as well as the culture. Hiring managers also like that they can get more detailed references from someone within their company. It gives them an easy way to get a solid grip on your skills, and to find out if you will be a good fit with the people in their department.

Now lets move onto how to get the internship. Many college students rely on the career development office to help them find and prepare for internship opportunities. As an older candidate this resource may not be at your disposal. Your Alma matter may be able to help. Many career offices have expanded to help not just current students but alumni.

For those of you who don't have the convenience of a local college, can always use the Internet. There are many great sites that will help you find an internship such as externs.comMonster Track and wet feet.

In order to make your resume as attractive as it can be to potential employers consider rewriting your resume so that it shows off your transferable skills, or skills that you have acquired in your current position that would help to make you successful in a new position. If your a retail manager looking to switch over to finance then you have a lot of transferable skills. You have customer service experience, a benefit in any industry, math skills and time management skills.

Speaking of time management skills, you're about to tell me that you don't have the time, or the money to devote to a full time internship. You have bills to pay and a family  to support. That's fine, there are ways to work around that. Some internships are paid, and while this is likely to be a pay cut for you, it could get your family through the transition period.

Another alternative is to take on the internship part time. A final option, open to those of your who are web savvy is to take on a virtual internship, where you can work from home. Virtual internships are a new concept, and you may have to ask an internship coordinator about setting up a program.

In the end an internship can seem like a hassle for the career changer, but it is a flexible way to get the experience and contacts that will help you get into your target career.