It used to be that internships were just for college kids. But today, the internship is for anyone who wants to do work they have no track record for doing. Internships are a learning ground and proving ground for any age. It’s true that kids in college absolutely must get work experience to be employable after college
, and an internship is a good way to do that, at any age.
People in their 30s get internships to make up for lost time in their 20s. And also to land hipster jobs that are impossibly hard to get - an internship at Versace, for example, went for $3200. That's right. Some internships are so cool that you have to pay for them.
Goldman Sachs coined the term 'returnship' for people in their 40s who do a job as a test and not as a hire. It's a high-class word for temp-to-hire. And Harvard Business Review touts this as the on-ramp for a generation of parents who scale back work periodically to accommodate their personal life.
Even if you don't get the job offer at the end of the internship, you can put the job on your resume. And whether you're 20 or 40, you don’t need to say it was an internship.
The best thing you can do in an internship is to negotiate for a real title, anything other than intern, so you can put it on your resume. People will assume you were not an intern and they will give you the benefit of the doubt that you have solid experience. (Remember, when it comes to a job hunt, omission is not lying. There's lots of stuff you leave off your resume because you deem it irrelevant. Whether you were an intern is one of those things.)
The best time to be hired as an intern is the fall.
Interns just left their positions to go back to school. They are thinking they just finished their summer internships, so they don't need another one. This is the time when you should be pouncing.
It's very competitive to get internships because, by definition, interns are not qualified. So the way to increase your odds is to compete when there are fewer nonqualified people competing. That will be your big differentiator - you showed up.
The hardest part of getting an internship is getting a company to create one. It's actually really difficult to manage someone who is not qualified because you have to oversee them so carefully, yet they can produce so little. Managers have to be careful not to spend more time managing than the results are worth. During this cost-benefit analysis, lots of internships are simply scrapped.
The great thing about looking for an internship in the fall is that companies have already created them, and they know what an intern can contribute, but the intern is recently gone.
When you're selling yourself in the fall, you can say "I'll do exactly what your last intern did." When you're selling yourself in the summer, you have to make up a whole new role.
What to do next?
Don't worry about your resume. Interns, by definition, do not have killer resumes. Write a cover letter saying you'd like an internship, explain what interests you about the company, and ask if they have any internships available. This letter is a long shot, but not in the fall, because all the internships are sitting open this month, and so few people think to apply.