Tuesday, October 21, 2008

how old is too old to intern?

Are you beyond your 20s and trying to break into magazines? You may find yourself facing the question of whether doing an internship is a viable option at your age. Usually these spots are filled by "kids" fresh out of school, but perhaps being older with more life experience puts you at an advantage – or maybe not. An article in the Globe and Mail ponders a few of the pros and cons of interning in your 30s, and I'm curious as to what you think about it (besides the gross generalization that 30-somethings are "an indecisive generation of folks swapping careers like baseball cards"). If you are/were older than 30, would you consider doing an internship? Would you hire an intern who was older than 30?


Kat Tancock said...

I interned at 26, with a lot of work experience behind me, and found a lot of aspects of it difficult because of my age compared to other interns (who were as young as 18). It was a worthwhile learning experience for sure but I think employers have to realize that older interns are generally going to be more capable and should be handled differently. It's not that they're not willing to do the basic tasks that make up part of an intern's job description, but they should be judged based on their abilities and may be ready for more challenging tasks earlier than younger interns.

Anicka said...

We often hire interns that are in their thirties and beyond. I suspect it's our content that attracts "older" applicants - Western Living's readership is in their demographic - and I haven't found 30-something interns to be any less willing to do intern-type tasks. (At the risk of making gross generalizations, I'm more likely to get resistance from young men!)

Jennifer said...

I totally agree with Kat! I interned recently (at 24) after being an EA somewhere else and it was very awkward. I think 2-3 years after college might be okay, but any later than that, it is just too awkward.


Briony said...

I interned in the States at a fancy city mag at 23, and was one of the youngest interns there! Most of the interns were around my age, but there was a good handful who were older: a few in their early thirties, and a couple in their forties! One of the aforementioned women had had a whole career before, and was able to parlay her excellent organizational skills into a tonne of freelance work with the mag.

Plus, the maturity level suited the work. The magazine had a rigorous application process, and (like many: sigh!) used interns as its entire factchecking department, and to write hunks of the FoB, and to research features, so it worked out well that the team was a little more seasoned.

They didn't judge in terms of age, and got a lot out of the bargain, I think, but they also didn't suffer fools gladly, which is also important.

I think the ideal internship includes a little bit of "paying your dues" to keep you humble (sorting mail, answering phones, etc.), as long as you're "paid" with opportunities to write, learn, and copyedit, and those who excel at that, can.

Anonymous said...

Often companies will only hire college-age interns whom can receive school credit...in order to receive a tax-credit. If you are in your thirties, good luck.