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Are You Too Old For That Internship?

When you think of internships, and interns for that matter, do you picture young, college-aged faces looking for a chance to prove themselves in a corporate environment? Like most people, we often believe that internships are meant for younger professionals and students looking to get some relevant work experience on their resumes.

But as the job market becomes increasingly more competitive, older, more seasoned and experienced workers may have a difficult time staying competitive. Many older workers may opt to go back to school, either to brush up on their skills or to begin a career in a new industry.

Older employees already face a number of difficulties in attaining long-term employment, but a crucial piece of that formula is available to them and that is internships.

Per the National Association of Colleges and Employers, “An internship is a form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting.”

In-essence, an internship is simply a form of learning through real-world application and experience.  That means that it is not limited to a certain segment of the population based on age. Rather, most companies require that their interns be enrolled in certain degree attaining programs in order to qualify.

No matter your age, an internship is invaluable experience and can help build out your network.  You are given the opportunity to liaise with individuals directly in your industry and learn the inner workings and mechanics of the company.

We won’t pretend though that interning as a more experienced professional is as easy as it may be for some younger professionals.

Firstly, not all internships offer financial compensation, which proves especially difficult for older professionals, many of whom have families, mortgages, and bills which need to be paid monthly.

Additionally, older professionals looking to intern may feel out-of-place.  They will typically be working for individuals younger than themselves and their colleagues may well be a couple of decades their junior.

Rather than feel embarrassed or out-of-place, I recommend that you embrace your experience at other industries during your internship. Establish yourself as a mentor and someone who has experience in a corporate environment.  Be sure to go out of your way to offer praise and encouragement to the more junior staff and interns, many of whom have never held long-term employment.

You should look to position yourself as a source of experience and wisdom from day one.  By doing this, you establish yourself as a strong, capable, and mature candidate that the company can trust and rely on. Though you may not be able to meet after-work for drinks every day or be invited to the college parties, you will be thankful that those distractions won’t be bothersome for you.

Show your experience in small, subtle ways daily.  Come in early and keep your desk organized.  Be sure to keep detailed notes and offer assistance with your colleagues needs.  Take initiative and show yourself useful.

Though it may not seem like the most opportune event in your life at the time, you really never know where an internship could lead or who you may be able to positively impact.  Take each day one at-a-time and continue to push yourself towards doing better and it will come.

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