Internships for Older Workers

Workers age 50 and older are increasingly applying for internships.

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Internships are no longer just for college students and recent graduates. Experienced workers are increasingly applying for internships to network at a desirable company or change careers. Some 10 percent of employers have received internship applications from workers age 50 or older, according to a recent CareerBuilder and Harris Interactive online survey of 2,534 private-sector hiring managers. And nearly a quarter (23 percent) of employers report interest in internships from workers with more than ten years of experience.

[See Fewer Workers Able to Retire at Age 65.]

“A large number of people are unemployed now and older and more experienced workers are using internships as an opportunity to get their foot in the door and hopefully turn it into a full time job,” says Michael Erwin, a CareerBuilder senior career adviser.

Over a quarter (27 percent) of the employers say they plan to hire additional interns in 2010 and 19 percent will pay some or all of their interns. But the income will likely be much lower than older workers received at previous positions. About half of the companies surveyed (53 percent) plan to pay interns $10 or more per hour, but just 5 percent will pay $25 or more per hour, CareerBuilder found.

[Visit the U.S. News Retirement site for more planning ideas and advice.]

Older workers accustomed to a leadership role will need to prepare themselves for a junior position with fewer responsibilities. The companies plan to assign interns to tasks such as office support (52 percent), customer service (35 percent), running errands (23 percent), and office maintenance (19 percent).

[Check out these Internships for Elders.]

But an internship can be an ideal way to transition into a new type of job. “They are a way for experienced workers to explore new opportunities," says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. "Internships can act as an extended, full time job interview and potentially lead to more opportunities for college students and for more seasoned employees.”