I’m a 30-year-old intern!


Internships. Everyone’s had one. Or ten. As a dutiful college student, I worked several unpaid internships. In fact, my journalism school required students to intern with a magazine, newspaper, or broadcast news station. But when I turned 22 and moved to New York City, I thought I left those days behind me. There was no way I could afford to pay for rent, food, and all of my other expenses if I took an internship, even if it was paid.

Fast-forward eight years and I am back to wearing the intern hat as the (paid) social media and editorial intern at Idealist.

Deciding to pursue an internship

While my writing and editing background served me well as I worked for a variety of business publications, the changing media landscape led me to look into a career with communications and social media. But as I ventured out on the job hunt in October 2012, I realized that my years of experience writing about communications and social media weren’t quite enough. Even my continuing studies classes in digital media weren’t getting the job done. I needed hands-on experience using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more — and not just for my personal accounts.

Still, when my friend Jessica sent me the job listing for a social media and editorial intern at Idealist, I was a little apprehensive. Are 30-year-olds even allowed to be interns? Fortunately, I was reminded of my all-time favorite sitcom and thought, if Chandler Bing can survive an internship in his “old age,” then I can too.

Obviously, I did apply, and as I went through the interview and hiring process, I took several things into consideration:

  • Will this be valuable to me? Taking a step back to work as an intern is a bit of a risk. But internships should be valuable experiences, especially in an industry or field where you don’t have much experience. I knew that this position would provide me with the social media skills that I needed and the introduction into the nonprofit world that I wanted.
  • What can I offer in this position? As someone a little more seasoned in your career, you often have skills, experiences, and more that can benefit the organization. For example, I knew that my journalism background would be helpful in this position, even as I demonstrated my eagerness to learn something new.
  • What do my friends and family think? My friends are a rockstar group with amazing jobs and I trust them when it comes to career advice. Despite the job title, many told me that the position was “very you” and were ready to back me up as I made the leap.
  • How practical is this? Can you afford to take a lower-paid or unpaid internship? I am able to supplement my work at Idealist by freelance writing. Don’t let money dictate every decision you make in life, but be realistic and practical, and make sure this is a smart decision for you.
  • Can I commit? Organizations and companies usually expect interns to stick around for a few months. Are you willing to take a break from the full-time job hunt and honor your commitment? Even though it is an internship, you need to give it your all.
  • Do I care about the title? This was a trickier one for me; when I started the job, I didn’t tell every acquaintance I spoke to that I was an intern. But look at the job description, the organization, and the people you’ll be working with. Like them all? Then who cares if you’re “just an intern”?

Have you taken an internship in the middle of your career? What was the experience like and how did you make the decision?

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Photo Credit: Pixelbliss, Shutterstock

About Author

Social Media and Editorial Intern at Idealist.org


  1. Pingback: Get an internship now, at age 20, 30, or 40 | CareerAdvisorDaily

  2. I studied theater arts in college then went on to film school with the hopes of starting at the bottom of the totem pole in the film business. I started interning then had to go home to help take care of my ailing dad. Within those 5 years of caregiving I worked for a huge coffee company (I’m sure you can guess which one) then a mortgage company for three years. Working in the film business seemed like a fading dream. I eventually worked up the nerve to apply to entertainment jobs and was offered an internship for a production company. I left a paying job and entered my 30th year taking a huge chance with this internship. I’m hoping for the best! I’m so glad to see I’m not the only one willing to risk a little for a dream.

    • Thank you for posting this article. I am 36 years old and trying to break into marketing. I just finished a course with the Chartered Institute of Marketing. I have no experience and was thinking that maybe I was too old to enter the world of Media Agencies. This articles and all of the replies have made me feel more confident in applying for internships and entry level roles.

      • Thank you so much for posting- all of you!! I am 30 years old and I am just now getting (enrolled) in a University for a degree in Marketing. And have started thinking about being an intern, but was scared to even try, thinking that I would just be laughed at because of my age. I am so glad that I searched the phrase of “too old for an internship” and came across these replies.
        Best of luck to all of you!

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  5. Wow, the article was good, but the comment section is great! I found this article after been offered an opportunity as a social media volunteer for a huge nonprofit organization. I had my reservations about accepting the position as I also have a FULL TIME paid position as a social media specialist.

    But this volunteer position opens me up to an industry outside of my current job and due to their vast social media presence, I felt like I couldn’t miss this opportunity. My goal is to become an independent social media contractor, but it would be hard to sell my services when I have only worked for one employer. What I’m saying, is I don’t have much of a portfolio outside of one particular industry. I’m going to accept the volunteer position.

    On a side note, I hope to expand my network and make some valuable connections.

    • I am 42 years old and I am a marketing intern at a pharmaceutical company. I graduated with a BSN from a Big Ten school in the Midwest. After a couple of years in the nursing field I realized I made a huge mistake and was fortunate to get hired by a fortune 500 pharmaceutical company. After 6 SUCCESSFUL years I decided to be a mom. After a decade out of the workforce, but ready to return I could only get a staff nursing job…NO WAY!! So I did what any sane mother of 5 would do, enroll in an accelerated MBA and snag a marketing intern ship during the last 6 months. I will keep u posted with how things turn out.

      • I just wanted to chime in on the comments section because it has helped me a lot and want to throw in my 2 cents. I’m 33 years old and after a tumultuous personal life I now find myself with a Bachelor’s degree and a very spotty resume with not much to offer. I too am furthering my education and doing volunteer work in the field of grant writing to be able to follow my two long-time passions of the nonprofit sector as well as writing. I guess all these comments show that with lots of effort, hope and a positive attitude, good things can come!

  6. Pingback: Future Influencer » 3 Ways to choose your next Career

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