We’ve told you before about the relatively recent trend of experienced workers (and even celebrities) taking on internships to jump start their careers or take them in a new direction — and now, more employers are embracing the idea as well.
In addition to programs like Encore Fellowships — an effort prompted by the Serve America Act of 2009 that allows experienced workers to transition into nonprofit and social service careers — some private companies are instituting programs of their own to help experienced workers start fresh.
Take Boston-based recruiting firm ThinkFlex, LLC. The firm recently began a program to connect job seekers — in particular, those who have been unemployed for five years or longer — with internships to help get their careers back on track. The program — started by ThinkFlex founder Subhadra England, pairs these workers with companies specifically looking for experienced interns.
Earlier this week, TheWorkBuzz got a chance to chat with England about the ThinkFlex program and why she thinks it’s never too late to be an intern. Here’s what she had to say:
What prompted you to start this internship program and what do you hope the outcome will be?
Because I stayed home when our children were younger, I understand how difficult it can be to jump back into the workplace after taking time off. In my role at ThinkFlex, I’ve also met many professionals returning to the workplace after five years who face a tremendous amount of obstacles.
I’m hoping that this internship program gives professionals an opportunity to update their skills, expand their network and gain confidence, and that employers see these internships as an opportunity to develop a pipeline of potential employees, build their employer brand and affect social change in the workplace.
For those who are returning to the workforce after an extended period of time — what skills are important to brush up on?
Every industry is different, but most professionals should focus on transferable skills and new software tools, business practices and statutory compliances. Transferable skills are skills that we use everyday including communication, leadership, project management, and negotiation skills, and they can be applied across industries and functions.
In general, do you think it’s a good idea for those returning to the workforce to take on internship roles — regardless of age?
Absolutely. Whatever your age, an internship is a chance to grow professionally and personally. It’s a great opportunity to develop your skills and expand your network.
Have you seen a lot of applicant interest in the project thus far?
So far, both employers and candidates seem to be excited about this program. I also have to admit that I am very excited about the potential of this program because it may be my opportunity to make a difference with my work.
ThinkFlex is currently looking to place an intern in the Boston area with National Center on Time and Learning. The position is paid.
For updates on available internships — or if your company is interested in participating in the program — visit ThinkFlex.net.