Should you intern as an adult to get your dream gig?
There are a few things to really think about when you plan to intern as an adult. The good news is, more and more people are now doing work experience, or internships, at older ages, prompting the BBC to put together this comprehensive study on older interns. There was even a movie made a couple of years ago with Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway called The Intern which had him intern as an adult at age 70.
According to Time Magazine job-search sites, “are reporting increases in the number of postings for internships. And more and more college graduates and even middle-aged professionals are willing to work for free in hopes that it will help them land a paying gig.”
Entering a new industry and getting a job with limited experience can seem like a bit of a daunting task as an adult. Of course, you have bucketloads of experience – but maybe not in the new industry or job sector where you’re hoping to find work. One great way to get your foot in the door of a new career or industry might be choosing to intern as an adult. Should you do it? How should you go about it?
How do I start looking for an internship as an adult?
Look around the web, and you’ll see there are loads of companies offering internships to people; not only do you gain experience, but you may end up with a job lined up at the end as well. There are a few things that you should have in order before you begin to approach companies with your resume. This is particularly important as an adult, as you will have more responsibilities than a younger candidate does, so you need to make the most of your time.
Decide what industries you will target
It might sound obvious, but so many adults end up in the wrong jobs simply because they fail to really think about what they love doing, and what they are best at. If you are planning a career change then you need to really spend lots of time researching your chosen industry.
Read industry publications and blogs from your country and from international companies. Connect with people via LinkedIn. Follow influencers on Twitter (or even Instagram) and engage in thoughtful conversations online with people you meet. Ask questions – let them know you’re a “newbie” and ask advice. People love to talk about themselves, if you approach them in the right way.
Correct your resume
Pull out your resume and assess it for the industry that you’re aiming for. Career expert Penelope Trunk has a great article about transferrable skills which points out that people need to tell a “story” with their resume. It needs to have a clear path that demonstrates where you are now and how that fits with where you want to be.
If you can afford it, get professional help with your resume. Just for the record, I can help you with this, head to my contact page for a quote. A professional can help you organise, finesse and highlight the best parts of your experience, and should be able to help you with industry-specific jargon to give you the winning edge.
Get good advice from a mentor
Deciding on interning as an adult might take a bit of courage. Having a mentor can be a great way to build confidence, and later, might provide someone to advocate for you, or even provide a reference. There are a few ways to meet mentors; reaching out beyond your usual network is much easier now with career networking sites like LinkedIn.
Remember, a mentor can be a person you know quite well, or someone you know on a very casual basis, perhaps online. There is a role for both; so cast your net far and wide and seek that specialised advice on how to get your foot in the door of an industry. People are often more willing to help than you’d think.
Be realistic – but optimistic
While it’s great to set the bar high, be realistic about how long the process might take, and have sensible expectations. Also, don’t discount the low-skilled jobs available in an industry, as this is often a great way to get your foot in the door and progress – take the knowledge and skills you gain from one job and use it to get a better one in the future.
Interns often have the chance at being in “all-rounder” types of jobs, where they can get a taste of many of the workplace’s functions and processes. This is actually a really great way to hone your skills, decide on your direction, and make the best choice for your future. To intern as an adult, it often pays to be willing to “get your hands dirty” – whatever that means in your chosen industry.
Don’t get discouraged. Rejection is part of the process
Being an intern as an adult can be a great way to find your next career; but it might take a while to find the best match. Too often, people give up after the first few rejections – but this is all part of the process.
Having said that, if you are sending out your resume and cover letter and are not getting ANY hits after substantial effort, it’s important to change your approach. Get proper advice, and be prepared to start close to the bottom, and work your way up. Good luck!