Dictionary.com defines an internship as “any official or formal program to provide practical experience for beginners in an occupation or profession.” But historically, people have usually associated internships with college students.
True, more people tend to take internships while they’re in college. But just as aspiring careerists are taking them younger and younger, internships are also becoming a more common way for established professionals to switch into another field. When we polled our active users last November, 32 percent of respondents said they had completed their undergrad degrees.
When we polled our active users last November, 32 percent of respondents said they had completed their undergrad degrees.
Even four years ago, when I took on my first tech industry internship at Cars.com, the intern I worked with — who ended up being hired full-time — had already graduated from Iowa. If you have the talent an employer is looking for and a willingness to learn, your age really shouldn’t matter.
If you’re looking to intern after graduation, the most obvious thing you’ll have to do is avoid internships that say “college credit only.” This normally isn’t a preference on the part of the employer — it’s necessity wherever laws mandate that unpaid internships must be good for academic credit, thus providing an indirect financial benefit.
In general, you’re more likely to find luck getting an internship that doesn’t require school resources or campus promotions. Some employers want college students specifically because they’re plugged into a social network that the employer wants access to. In those cases, it’s hard to beat out a student even if you have better experience.
Speaking of social networks, it’s a good idea to brush up on your social media skills when you’re hunting for internships, unless you’re entering a very specialized field. No matter where you intern these days, there’s a decent chance you could find yourself sending out a few tweets or updating the company Facebook page.