What Experienced Workers Can Gain from Internships
By Matt Villano | Monster Contributing Writer
Out of gainful employment, out of job offers and running out of savings, Scott Stevens of Portland, Oregon, has turned to a familiar strategy to gain experience and keep his skills fresh: The internship.
In spring 2009, Stevens, 35, took an internship on a sustainable tourism project for Travel Portland, a nonprofit destination marketing organization. In this role, he researches what it would take for an entire city to become sustainable and how best to market this initiative to the public.
His salary: Zero. Instead, the former IT sales and marketing professional is doing the internship for the experience.
“I liked the idea of an internship as a way to keep busy and connected,” he says. “The value to me is in learning something new.”
With the economy in the doldrums, Stevens isn’t the only experienced worker to go the internship route. Some, like Stevens, are using internships to build their resumes and gain experience during a period of unemployment. Others are looking to enhance their professional knowledge or sample a new field ahead of a possible career change.
Keeping Busy, Building a New Network
For Stevens, whose wife earns a hefty salary in the biotech industry, the full-time internship is more than a way to get out of the house — it’s also an opportunity to acquire new experience, network and keep his skills sharp.
After months of searching for a job in high tech startups, Stevens decided to look for an internship or volunteer opportunity. He scoured online job boards and sent out feelers to people in his personal network.
Finally, a friend at Travel Portland agreed to give him a shot.
Under the current arrangement, Stevens usually reports to the office five days a week. Because he’s not getting paid, he can come and go as he pleases — and usually does.
When he’s not working on the sustainable tourism project, Stevens is building new networks, trying to establish contacts in hospitality and tourism, where he hopes to land a marketing job eventually. While shrinking budgets probably means his internship won’t turn into a full-time job, his boss has been actively assisting him in looking for something new.
“She is aware of my long-term goals and is happy to help me network,” Stevens says. “She might not be able to hire me, but it’s nice to know that she wants me to succeed.”