smart spending

Find job, fix resume with adult internship

Smart Spending
  • Job seekers outnumber job openings today by six to one.
  • A job search for adults today averages nine to 12 months.
  • To many employers an adult internship demonstrates initiative.

If you're trying unsuccessfully to find a job or see that a shortfall in your resume is preventing you from getting hired, an adult internship may solve your problems.

Just 10 years ago, employers faced a worker shortage and job seekers netted a smorgasbord of offers. In a scramble to fill positions, employers often overlooked missing qualifications.

Today, with the hiring rate at 3.2 percent and job seekers outnumbering job openings at a ratio of 6-to-1, employers are the ones choosing from the banquet. And missing key ingredients on your resume mean the difference between getting even an interview nibble, let alone a job offer.

How can professionals get back to the offer table? They might want to give it the old college try -- an internship. Once the bastion of college students seeking practical experience, internships help midcareer professionals fill those holes on their curriculum vitae, or C.V., or help make a much-desired career transition that's impossible with their current resume.

Despite the financial drawbacks -- most are unpaid -- an internship can prove invaluable, says Phil Rosenberg, president of reCareered, a career coaching service for midcareer professionals. "Getting three months of experience -- ideally six months -- puts a candidate head and shoulders above somebody with skills but no direct experience," he says. "It can give you industry as well as company contacts, so you can maybe even transition an internship into a full-time position."

How to get one

Employers already face numerous legal regulations just for student interns, so adult internships aren't easy to find. Lauren Berger, who runs the popular college internship site,, says companies more open to taking adult interns are startups, small boutique firms and those offering virtual internships. But Berger says midcareer professionals need to be ambitious when it comes to securing any internship. "I tell the average college student to apply for at least 10 internships for fall, spring and summer. Adults, I would double that number," she says.

"If you're an adult, it also might be easier to get an internship outside the United States," says Holly Bull, president of the Center for Interim Programs in Princeton, N.J., which fills internships and gap-year programs in journalism, business and medicine in foreign countries. The organizations the center works with often hire Bull's clients when the internship ends. "Just on that practical level, as soon as your foot is in the door, you're more likely to be hired on," she says.


If you can't go abroad, Bull advises asking the human resource department of companies you are interested in if they are willing or legally able to hire an adult intern. Target advertised positions, suggests Rosenberg, and offer to intern instead.

The benefits

Last summer when Leah Shafer, then 32, wanted to transition from freelance writing to marketing, she landed a 10-hour per week internship with Fish Direct in Dallas by posting her desire on her Facebook page. She had considered going back to school, but Shafer says the internship saved her time and money.


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