If you are trying to get back into work after a career break or want to change your career for a more fulfilled working life, adult internships might be right for you.
Much like adult apprenticeships, there is an incorrect stereotype that internships are only for students and graduates starting in their careers. Internships are open to everybody and can be a perfect opportunity for those who want to get their foot back in the door, or into a new door altogether.
Internships are short-term entry-level jobs that usually last around three months but sometimes run for up to a year. Traditionally, young people do an internship in their summer and other breaks from education to experience what a certain career will look like. However, students aren’t the only ones starting a new job, as the average person now has at least 15 roles in their lifetime, spanning multiple careers.
There is a rising trend of people in their thirties (or ‘millennials’ as they are often referred to), deciding they want to pursue career dreams they might have given up for their current job. According to a recent survey, there is an all-time high of job dissatisfaction amongst this age group, with 49% of millennials estimated to quit their job within the next two years. More and more people are deciding to take a leap into the unknown and have a career change, even if this does mean taking a pay cut.
Adult internships, sometimes known as ‘minternships’, meaning mid-career internships, are a popular way to get onto a new career path. They enable people to try out a new industry or role before committing to a permanent job. It can be hard to leave the familiarity and stability of a job you feel comfortable in, even if you aren’t happy. Internships are low-commitment and low-pressure roles, facilitating the desire to experience a new career for a short period of time. This enables you to make an informed choice on whether the sacrifices of a career change are worth it for you.
The most significant disadvantage of internships is the low wage; in fact, many internships don’t offer any money at all. For the employer, it’s the chance to hire somebody who requires additional experience, so is usually willing to work for very little. While there are laws in place to stop employee exploitation, short-term unpaid internships are still prevalent in the workplace. This can be much more complicated as you get older due to financial commitments such as children or a mortgage.
Understandably, working for free isn’t an option for many people; however, if a partner or family member can support you, you may find that doing a mid-career internship has financial benefits in the long run as they can be a step into a new and potentially better-paid career.
It’s important to note that you aren’t starting from scratch by doing an internship later in your career. Employers will be able to recognise all the experience you are bringing with you from other jobs and the transferable skills you have built up throughout your working life. People with experience bring with them maturity and professionalism that many young people looking for internships don’t yet have.
‘Returnships’ are internships aimed at helping people return to work after an extended break. Some companies offer these formally, wanting to help people get back onto the career ladder, showing commitment to a diverse workforce. Speak to employers to see what they have on offer and don’t be put off by being older than the other candidates. By taking on an internship later in life, you are showing your dedication and enthusiasm for a new career.