The 40-Year-Old Intern?

by: Grace Handy

Internsover40.blogspot.com had more than 500,000 visitors in 2010. Filled with a jumbled array of resume tips, interviewing tricks, and links to relevant websites and news articles, each section of the site points to one overarching goal: getting employed.

The goal of this gloomily-named blog is the same current goal of countless college graduates. Gone are the days when entry-level, paid positions after graduation were expected or the norm. Now, with the country’s recent economic struggles forcing job cuts, unpaid graduate internships are becoming increasingly popular and competitive. Formerly attributed to undergraduates hoping to squeeze in a few hours of real-world experience after class, internships are now just as coveted by graduated twentysomethings hoping to acquire a full-time, paid position.

Maureen Cappon-Javey, a recent graduate of Santa Clara University in California, took to the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art’s blog to express her sentiments on post-graduate internships. Cappon-Javey, hesitant initially to accept an unpaid position at the art institute, soon came to find the experience rewarding and mutually beneficial. “Before long, I was learning the difference between nonprofit and commercial operations, learning new media marketing strategies, networking with artists and familiarizing myself further with the contemporary arts scene.”

Alex Butler is an unpaid editorial intern at Rolling Stone Magazine, where he transcribes interviews, sits in on conference meetings, and at times performs the typical intern duties of filing, copying, and coffee-fetching for the magazine’s editors. Butler graduated with an English and Creative Writing degree from UMass Amherst in 2009. He interns at the Rolling Stone offices in midtown Manhattan at least three days a week, works as the doorman at the oh-so-hip Jane Hotel in the West Village at least three nights a week, and the nights he’s not at The Jane he’s working as a bartender at The Underground Lounge, a comedy club in the Upper East Side. One day when I caught up with him for a quick cup of coffee in between stints at Rolling Stone and The Underground Lounge, he confessed to getting about three hours of sleep a night. “Sleep’s just not really an option while trying to balance everything and scrape by in New York financially.” Butler, an aspiring music journalist, is hoping the unpaid internship at Rolling Stone will enable him to make contacts in the industry and eventually land him a full-time job. “It’s a great stepping stone, even if I am just an intern.”

In fact, interning shouldn’t be a discouraging experience. The National Association of Colleges and Employers 2009 Experiential Education Survey found that “nearly 70% [of interns] received offers of full-time employment from their internship hosts during the 2007-2008 academic year.”

So—fear not, recent graduates, internships and subsequent full-time, paid positions likely await you.

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