The 40-Year-Old Intern

The knock-on effect of recession means graduates aren’t just competing for entry-level jobs against experienced workers: they’re now competing against them for internships too.



If you’ve been living in a distant galactic bubble for the last couple of years then you still might not have heard the news – we are currently suffering from a severe global economic downturn.

Yet it seems that as well as all the obvious effects occurring; national cuts, increased unemployment rate, higher numbers of university applicants etc, there have also been a few less expected outcomes, like the increase of older people seeking internships.

A survey conducted last month by CareerBuilder.com discovered that the struggling job market has sparked a surge of older people in the US applying for internships as a way to re-enter the employment sector.

The website, which surveyed more than 2,500 hiring managers across America, found that 23 percent of employers are receiving applications from people who either have more than 10 years of experience, or are aged 50 years and older.

“This economic downturn has really redefined what an internship is” said Mike Erwin, senior career advisor for CareerBuilder. “(People) need to make sure that they’re filling in the gaps while being unemployed, so they’re going ahead and taking these internships whether they’re paid or unpaid so they can get more experience, and hopefully land a full-time job.”

Traditionally, internships have been seen as a way for young people to get work experience on their CV. However, as the recession continues to kick in, and more and more graduates struggle to get the jobs that so many other more qualified individuals are also applying for, internships have taken on a much more important role. They are becoming that vital stepping stone between university and permanent employment.

However, the new statistics could mean that such graduates have an even greater fight on their hands as they find themselves competing against experienced people not only for pre-entry jobs – but also for internships.

Furthermore, the websites findings showed that many companies were just as keen to hire the older applicants as the more common younger ones;

“They know they’ve lost a lot of intellectual capital when they’ve had to lay people off,” Erwin explained. “So you’re going to find they’re going to bring back mature and experienced workers for internships as well as entry-level and college students who are going to bring a whole new feel to the job.”

Although this internship redefinition has only been reported in the States as yet, it leads to wonder how long it will take until economic desperation leads to a similar fad this side of the water.

And what would happen then? Will graduates need to do work experience to be able to get an internship to be able to get a job? Where will it end? Let us know your thoughts now!

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