Tips On How to Score an Internship for Non-Traditional Students
Going back to school for a career change is a commendable decision. It is also one that can create much stress as you begin juggling several personal and professional opportunities. For many programs, part of your academic learning should be supplemented by experience outside of the classroom; however some non-traditional students find it hard to compete with younger student for internship opportunities. If your school’s career office doesn't offer guided workplace opportunities, then consider these tips in trying to land an internship gig on your own.
Find flexible opportunities
Part of being a non-traditional student is finding ways to balance your time. Traditional internships that require 40 hours a week may not be the most time efficient when you have family to care for. Instead look for learning opportunities that are more flexible. Many companies and businesses offer short-term internships that can be completed on the weekends, by telecommuting or by being in the office 2-3 days a week. If you need an even lesser time commitment, consider volunteering or job shadowing to get more experience.
Continue to network
Reach out to people you know or school alumni and other non-traditional students to find out about internship opportunities that they may have found. By talking to people you can gain further guidance on your career goals and additional connections for new opportunities. Once you land an internship, make sure to find time to get to know the entire organization that you'll be working for. Volunteer on new projects and propose ideas that can improve the workplace. These are actions that will reflect your maturity as a non-traditional student intern.
Emphasize why you're different
Being older in age can actually work to your advantage. One of the biggest challenges for employers when it comes to hiring non-traditional students is that they often believe they are overqualified for intern tasks. However, this can be countered by the fact that non-traditional students have more experience and maturity to bring to the table than their younger counterparts. Be introspective and identify your strengths and skills. When communicating with potential internship employers about your experiences, be clear about your desires to enter a new field, what you can bring to the table, and how the internship will help you achieve your future goals.