Internships provide real world experience to gain the skills needed to enter a particular career field. Several movies have come out featuring internships as a main story line. They usually feature interns we don’t typically think about. In the movie, “The Internship”, two characters played by Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson find themselves downsized from their sales roles and they want to get back in the workforce by working for Google despite their lack of technical skills. As a side note, following the release of that movie, I heard about employees requesting sleeping pods from their employer. If you have seen the movie, you know what I’m talking about. In “The Intern” featuring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway, a retired executive widower sees an ad for a senior intern program at a fashion startup company. After some struggles in the relationship, Ben, the character played by De Niro, shows Jules, played by Hathaway the leadership ropes in her developing company. I enjoyed both of those movies because I have personally seen non-traditional internships work in business.

Traditional Thinking on Internships

Traditional internships provide a bridge in taking what’s learned in a classroom setting and apply it to the real world. We often think of college students taking an internship over a summer or the employer working with the college to provide credit to the student. Many internships tend to be career specific, focusing on a particular interest or the major the student has in college.

Non-traditional Internships

But what about those movies? Do those types of internships exist in real life? Yes. It may look a little different than the movies, but many employers are looking at providing non-traditional internships as a method of recruitment to attract from other sectors of potential employees. Often referred to as “re-entry” internships, they can be a win-win for the employer and potential employee.

These types of internships are designed for job candidates looking at reentering the job market, someone looking at a different career path, individuals returning from military service, or retired workers that discover retirement isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. It provides a great opportunity for someone getting back into the workforce to gain experience in a different field. In other cases, it provides great purpose to the interns who are more satisfied providing a service to a potential employer.

Re-entry internships allow employers to make a more informed hiring decision on potential employees. These interns often possess great work experience and have a mature perspective. Employers jumping on the re-entry internship band wagon include IBM, GM, Caterpillar, JP Morgan, and many others. I have seen this work in the education field where retired engineering employees earn an education degree. After participating in a teaching internship they have the opportunity to teach math and science courses at a high school. Talk about a win-win.

The future of the Internship

What does the future hold for internships? Many employers are turning to virtual internships. This allows greater flexibility for the employer and intern. The employer does not need an office space for the intern and they have the ability to attract candidates from around the globe. Interns get the opportunity to work with companies that may not be in their backyard. The possibilities are endless in today’s technology for the future of internships.

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