Sunday, July 10, 2011

Older interns signal gloomy labor market (And by the way, 48% of interns are also unpaid)

Elizabeth Romanaux puts a brave face on working as an intern at the age of 55.

A media relations manager until she joined the millions of unemployed Americans two years ago, Romanaux spent the spring building contact lists and fetching lunches as she tried to keep alive her chances of resuming full employment.

"You have to suck it up sometimes and do what a 17-year-old would happily do and be happy about it," she said of her recent stint with a public relations firm in New Jersey.

Once the domain of high school and college students, internships are more common among older Americans who are struggling to find jobs and keep their skills up to date in the worst labor market in decades.

"A lot of adults who are either returning to the workforce or have been laid off in the recession are looking for places and ways to build a resume and fill a gap between jobs," said Margo Rose, founder of HireFriday, an online job search advice website.

"The last thing you want to do is look the interviewer in the eye with a blank stare when they ask you, 'What have you been doing for the last year?'" (read more)