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Adult Internships: A Great Way to Try Before You Buy

career Sep 25, 2019

Are you interested in making a career switch into a new job or industry? Have you been out of the workforce for an extended amount of time and are ready to go back? Retired, but still have so much to offer the next generation career hopefuls?

Whether you're actively searching or just daydreaming, I know the thought of starting something new or changing your career can be scary and feel a bit overwhelming. In fact, according to American Institute of Stress, of the 43 most stressful life events that one can experience, "changing careers" is #18!

However, one of the best ways to lessen the stress of potentially jumping into the unknown is to try out your new career direction before jumping all in. Think about it. You'd never buy a car, choose a school, pick a home, or even purchase a lipstick without trying it out first to make sure it's good match for you. Well as a midlife career professional seeking a change, this should be no different. One of the best ways to do that is through an internship, returnship or apprenticeship.

Watch my live segment on AM Northwest.

Most people think internships are reserved for students and young graduates weighing their job options, and that's true. However, the option is available for anyone wanting to explore their options.

The reason these type of "work programs" are so effective is because they provide a great way for you to gain exposure and visibility, while allowing you to learn the in's and out's of a particular job role or organizational culture. So why not take advantage of this opportunity as a mid-career professional?

Since 2016 adult internships have been on the rise because they've been equally effective for adults seeking to reenter the workforce or make a career pivot without leaving their current employer. Remember the movies The Intern and The Internship?

In The Intern, bored with retirement, Robert DeNiro's character becomes an intern to not only up level his technological skills, but to serve as a business mentor to the young CEO played by Ann Hathaway, providing her with insight on how to manage her staff.  While there was a quite a bit of resistance (after all it is a movie), in the end they both saw the value in DeNiro's presence with the company and to it's bottom line.

The Internship takes a look at midlife career professionals needing to make a shift in their career because their industry is becoming obsolete. However, the movie does a great job at showing how certain skill sets never become outdated, which gives a nod to why you never want to disregard all of your vast knowledge, experience and training. It's simply a matter of learning new approaches and application for what you already know.

While these two movies may not exactly be similar to your personal situation, you get the idea.

I did an internship years ago when I first considered leaving the law. I interned for a small family law practice for a few hours in morning three days a week and sometimes at the end of the day to determine if I wanted to leave the law or simply change fields. make that change. It was the best thing I could have done because through that work I realized it would have been the worse possible career move for me! 

It's common to think that all you need to do is make a slight shift of focus, when sometimes what you need to do is make a complete career change. An adult internship will help you figure that out.

There are many ways you can seek out internship opportunities, but networking within your current connections is the best place to start. You can also attend conferences or events related to your industry of interest.

There are also places like Path Forward, an organization dedicated to helping caregivers return to the workplace. In fact. they've partnered with organizations like Oracle, NBCUniversal, Walmart and Verizon to provide things like a 16-week paid internship that can lead to full-time employment. This provides a great opportunity for skills training, experience and mentorship.

If you're currently employed, you can also take on a non-paying internship. This will allow you to gain the same opportunities and benefits without needing to worry about the pay. 

The landscape of the workplace is changing and more and more employers are getting comfortable with nonlinear professional career paths. With that in mind, if you're interested in a particular company, organization or industry and you don't see any internships listed, no worries, do like I did and create one through networking. Just be specific about the training you want and how your presence will be a benefit them instead of being a distraction.

Regardless of what you decide keep one things in mind: the same rules of workplace etiquette apply to internships as they do to full-time employment. 

What do you think? Is it time to try out an internship or apprenticeship? I can help you map a plan for success. Contact me today and let's find an opportunity best suited for you.

Watch my live segment on AM Northwest here:  https://youtu.be/JtVJYrZA5WI 

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