Many workers devote years to a career only to find that they’d rather pursue a different path for more detail reputation guards. For some, a internship offers an opportunity to start a new professional life.
A internship is an internship taken by a midcareer professional with the intention of gaining professional experience to pivot into a new role or industry. Whereas traditional internships typically attract students, companies design internships for professionals with experience in another field.
Millennials, as members of a generation with a reputation for job hopping, may be especially interested in internships. The 2021 Deloitte Global Millennial and Gen Z Survey reports that 36% of millennials want to leave their jobs within the next two years.
Internships can empower dissatisfied employees to change careers and provide companies with inexpensive, low-risk labor. With incentives for both midcareer professionals and the professions they hope to pursue, it’s time to look at the benefits and drawbacks of this growing workplace trend.
What Is a Midcareer Professional?
A midcareer professional is a worker with experience beyond entry-level positions yet far from retirement. At this stage, midcareer professionals have years of experience in a field but may have developed an appetite for a different role, better benefits, or a new career.
According to a 2021 press release by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, people have 12 different jobs over the length of their careers, on average, based on data from the baby boom generation.
Many workers also switch industries during the course of their professional lives. In a 2019 survey by Indeed, 49% of U.S. workers reported they’d made a drastic change in their careers. These included pivots from engineering to marketing and from finance to teaching.
To understand the rise of internships, it is helpful to understand the demographic groups most likely to take advantage of midcareer opportunities to reskill and switch professions.
Millennials and Generation X Setting the Trend for Internships
While American workplaces consist of people from different generations working together, a plurality of the U.S. workforce today is made up of younger generations that may be more inclined to move from job to job.
According to Pew Research, the largest percentage of workers come from the millennial generation (born 1981-96), followed by Generation X (born 1965-80), and baby boomers (born 1946-64). Today’s workplaces also include some members of Generation Z (born after 1996) and the silent generation (1928-1945).
Multigenerational workplaces offer opportunities for successful internships. An organization of multiple generations enjoys the benefit of multiple perspectives and insights that can be shared with new employees and interns.
Compared to the silent generation and the baby boom generation, Generation X and millennials are less likely to stay at the same company long term. Why?
Multiple factors contribute to increases in job hopping. The rapid change in many industries due to technological advancements and automation, the reduction of pension plans and other financial incentives to stay in a single role long term, and a diminishing professional stigma against changing jobs all point to a workforce that increasingly embraces change.
Internships for professionals have become much more normalized in recent years due to the shifting economic reality of an unstable job market.
What Contributes to a Midcareer Crisis?
Many factors can lead to a midcareer crisis. In addition to financial incentives to switch career paths, many millennials in financially stable careers are choosing to take a pay cut to pursue work they find more meaningful or better aligned with their values.
Factors that may inspire workers to shift careers include:
- Work-life balance (e.g., remote work opportunities, flexible hours, paid time off)
- Career advancement opportunities
- Compensation and benefits (including health insurance and paid parental leave)
- Employer ethics (e.g., sustainability)
- Continuing education opportunities
- Organizational stability
Pursuing valuable incentives like these can prompt individuals to consider a internship as a step to a more satisfying career.
Corporate Incentives for Internships
Internships provide many benefits to organizations. In particular, internships offer organizations the chance to pay less for labor while also taking on less risk.
According to a 2021 Zippier article, hiring a new worker costs companies up to 40% of an employee’s base salary. With an average time to fill a position of 36 to 42 days, companies incur mounting costs by failing to hire and retain quality employees.
Lag time between when a job becomes vacant and when a new employee fills it costs companies money, too. According to the Johnson Service Group, a human resources recruitment firm, a position vacancy costs organizations on average about $98 per day, not including additional recruitment costs.
Companies wishing to mitigate risk by avoiding the hiring, training, and management of ill-suited employees can have financial incentives to provide internships for midcareer professionals.
What Does a Midcareer Internship Entail?
A internship offers workers an opportunity to transition into a different role in a potentially different industry. With additional on-the-job training, professionals get the opportunity to learn more about alternative career paths and make connections in different industries.
During a internship, workers can gain hands-on experience in a new field. Minternships allow aspiring employees to work alongside professionals and learn the ins and outs of the business, completing projects and building their portfolio.
Internships can be part-time or full-time commitments, depending on the opportunity.
Like traditional internships, few things characterize the “typical” internship; every industry and company may have unique projects and organizational needs that structure their internship experience.
However, the professionals who seek internships may gain more from their experience than a traditional intern does from theirs. Minters in their 30s and 40s may have:
- A better sense of their worth as individual contributors to organizations
- Experience navigating bureaucratic processes
- Transferable skills in problem solving and team communication
Thus, minters may learn more on the job and have an easier time making positive connections in their new industry.
Pros and Cons of Internships
Internships promise the chance to learn new skills, gain experience working in different industries, and potentially pivot into a new job that aligns more with one’s career goals and values.
Internships can offer a low-commitment opportunity to network with employers and learn about an industry from the inside. Working alongside industry professionals can give minters insight into the actual day-to-day tasks of their prospective career and solidify their decision to either stay in their current field or leap to another.
The rise of midcareer internships shifts a majority of risk away from companies onto workers, who stake their professional lives on temporary, lower-paid positions.
A drawback of internships is that professionals often take a pay cut to work as minters, with no guaranteed role at the company once their internship ends.
How to Find a Internship and Make a Midcareer Change
Professionals can take action to find a internship that could help them launch their next career.
Learn what sorts of education and experience might be necessary for restarting a career in a new industry.
While some industries may offer entry-level internships without specific educational or professional credentials, other industries may require advanced education or certification. Research prospective career paths through avenues such as books, web publications, and podcasts.
Return to School
Some industries require additional schooling and/or certification for employment. Trade programs, colleges, and universities offer an array of internship opportunities for students at any age, so going back to school may be a reliable route to finding an internship as a midcareer professional.
For example, returning to school to earn a master’s in public administration may open doors for students to intern at government organizations, think tanks, and nonprofits.
Peruse Job Boards
Many companies post internships on their websites or online job boards. Searching boards such as Monster, Indeed, and Internships.com may yield internship opportunities for midcareer professionals based on location, industry, company, and more.
Network, Network, Network
When deciding whether to switch careers, seeking advice from current professionals can save time and money. Prospective minters should ask for help and share their goals with people who could support them.
Using networking social media platforms such as LinkedIn can help prospective employees forge connections and set up informational interviews with people who work in different fields.
Collaborate with Present Employers
Some companies offer their employees programs for reskilling or transitioning to a new role or department. Employers also sometimes offer student loan repayment assistance to encourage workers to seek additional education, or they may offer on-the-job training programs. Contact human resources and talk to current managers or directors to inquire about opportunities like these.
Pursue a Career with Meaning
Regardless of their age or where they are in their careers, workers are looking for employment that is both financially supportive and meaningful. Today’s workforce has more options than ever before when it comes to educational opportunities to sharpen skills and transition to the next stage in a career.
Professionals who want to learn more about how education can help them pursue a lucrative and meaningful career should explore Maryville University’s online degree programs. Maryville University helps prepare students with the tools and experience they need to thrive in diverse careers.