Internships for Adults Are on the Rise. Here's What You Need to Know

Internships for Adults Are on the Rise. Here's What You Need to Know
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An adult with years of experience would never consider an internship, right? Not necessarily. 

In fact, for people who have been out of the workforce for several years or who want to make a big career change, a returnship -- the grown-up version of an internship -- could be a second chance at success even if the paycheck is likely smaller than what workers are used to. 

"For people who are returning to work after a career break, participating in a formal returning professional internship program can be an excellent entree back into the workforce," said Carol Fishman Cohen, CEO and co-founder of iRelaunch, a career resource website. 

While a returnship does not guarantee a job, it does provide marketable skills, experts said. They also offer mentorship, experience and a chance to learn about new industry trends and operations.

"As our careers are extending, we're going to need more nonlinear professional career paths, including opportunities to take breaks to look after children and elderly relatives," said Julianne Miles, co-founder and director of professional network Women Returners. 

Many corporate giants are hopping on the trend. Companies such as Goldman SachsGeneral MotorsBooz Allen HamiltonCummins and Credit Suisse also offer returnship programs.

Create a returnship, if one doesn't exist

Although not all companies have returnships listed online, that doesn't mean they can't create one through networking, experts said.

"Keep in mind that a professional returning to work after a career break can suggest an internship or internship-like experience to an employer that does not have a formal program," Cohen said. 

So how do you go about creating one? 

"Be specific on … what you would like to do while there, and also what skills you would like to work on during your time there," said Stacey Delo, founder of Maybrooks, a career resource for moms. "Communicate this in your pitch. Try approaching smaller businesses." 

Show how your returnship would benefit the company, other experts said. 

"Pose this paid re-entry role as a win-win for the organization," said Amanda Augustine, career advice expert for Top Resume, a career service website. 

"The employer gets some much needed help from an experienced professional, oftentimes at a discounted rate, while you get to learn about the latest technologies and trends in your field and gain some valuable experience," Augustine added. 

But be sure to consider all of your options

Other career experts warned against pursuing a returnship too quickly, before considering other higher-paying options. 

The ideal candidate for a returnship is someone who has been out of the workforce for more than five years, not just a couple of years, said Allison O'Kelly, founder and CEO Corps Team, a staffing organization focused on experienced professionals seeking nontraditional careers. 

"The returnships -- they're not a guarantee of a job. So especially when you've been out three to five years, you're still very marketable for job positions," O'Kelly said. 

Returnships are usually full-time positions, O'Kelly added. This may be difficult for a person looking to transition more slowly into the workforce.

"When considering a returnship, make sure you consider what your other options are," O'Kelly said. "Is it that I want it to go back full-time? Do I want to get a full-time role, a part-time role?" 

Regardless of whether you decide to pursue a returnship, a part-time position or any other experience, O'Kelly said that the same rules of hard work and dedication apply. 

"You really want to get back in there, learn as much as you can, go above and beyond," O'Kelly said. "Get involved in the company by going to activities, integrate yourself as an active team member."

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