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Many of us may think internships are for kids, but they can be the perfect way to relaunch a career or reinvent one if you’re in your 30s, 40s, or older.
Beth Kobliner, author of "Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance In Your Twenties and Thirties," says a number of people are currently taking low-paid or unpaid internships.
"The idea of an internship brings to mind the notion of people schlepping coffee to their boss, and there's nothing worse than thinking about doing that in your 40s and 50s," says Kobliner.
But, she adds, there are opportunities with internships that are not being exploited. "Polls showed that, even though 55 percent of companies say they would hire older interns, very few companies -- only seven percent -- say people over 50 actually apply. So there's a way to get in there, and it's a way to show your stuff, use some experience and get some experience that you may actually really, really need. Like digital media, like if you ... want to learn about the nonprofit world. It really gives you a short-term opportunity to learn something you really will use and skills for your next job."
Kelly Barbieri, a 41-year-old, went from laid-off print journalist to managing editor of relocation.com, thanks to an internship she did this past fall with YourTango.com.
"I was job hunting after the last company downsized tremendously inside of a couple of months, and I just didn't see any print jobs out there," said Barbieri. "I had been looking at online journalism for a long time. I had my own website, I love the Internet and all of that, so I just decided to make the jump over. And in order to do that, I needed to learn exactly what happened in office every day."
Barbieri also took classes on the side, and combined with the internship, she was able to learn new skills along with the work experience.
While it wasn't an easy transition from veteran print journalist to lowly intern, Barbieri says it wasn't a difficult decision to make. "It was either do that, or not work. So the choice was pretty easy. And I don't think in life you ever get to the point where you stop learning. So it was just the next step to me, and the ability to keep on learning in a situation that was real life was an excellent, excellent opportunity."
Beth Kobliner recommends that people decide what they want to do, then find internships or similar types of programs offered at companies to learn the necessary skills.
"Sarah Lee Companies, the cake people, they have now a 'returnship' for women who worked in other fields who then became full-time moms, worked in the PTA, community service, and now come back to the workplace," says Kobliner. "Investment banks like Goldman Sachs are doing it for women, and small nonprofits are doing it."
"The Takeaway" is a national morning news program, delivering the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what’s ahead. The show is a co-production of WNYC and PRI, in editorial collaboration with the BBC, The New York Times Radio, and WGBH.