The 54-Year-Old Intern

Okay,  I’ll admit I haven’t seen the movie “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” in its entirety.  But, I get the gist of it.  And like Steve Carell in the role of Andy Stitzer, I’m doing something that some people can’t quite reconcile with my age.  I’m  an intern.  More precisely, I’m an unpaid 54-year old intern. 

I remember meeting the general manager (a scant few years older than me) of the software company who was interviewing me for the internship position.  Sitting across the table from me, he  reviewed my resume.  Frowning, he looked up at me, shrugged his shoulders and asked,  “Why are you doing this?”

I told him.  As a freelance writer, I’m always looking to expand my skills and technical writing is a relatively new area for me.  In this market, there are a lot of unemployed technical writers. Even with my extensive writing experience, there was little chance of being considered for any technical writing assignments.  Thus, the internship through a local university to get the experience I needed. 

Still somewhat baffled, he was happy to have the age and experience I brought to the table. 

So, here I am.  In between paid gigs to write articles and web content, I’m working gratis on a software user manual for a company that appreciates my talents and hasn’t been afraid to use them. 

And it’s been an amazing internship.  (Unlike my first one in the 80’s! Then, when I wasn’t fetching coffee, I was crowded around a small desk by the copy machine with two other interns, counting the minutes.)  The knowledge and the contacts I’ve gained have been invaluable and I’ve met some great people.  And – all part of an actual plan – this internship could well lead to contract work down the road.  Worth it?  You bet!

Sure, an internship may be unusual at my age.  And you’d better believe I’m going to use that to my advantage.  In addition to being a question and eyebrow raiser on my resume, I’m thinking it will lend me an air of “willingness to do whatever it takes” to achieve a goal.  Is there an employer anywhere who’s gonna sneeze at that? 

So, yeah, the older I get, the more skeptical I’ve become of “age appropriate” activities…and labels with ages attached.  I just plan on continuing to ignore them.

And for any Andy Stitzer’s out there, I advise you to do the same.

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6 Responses to The 54-Year-Old Intern

  1. Lynne Larkin says:

    It’s a great idea, Linda, not only to have guts in this unpredictable time, but a lot of businesses have pared down in the last few years and getting a foot in the door for free just before they make decisions on re-hiring, pretty good move!

  2. Kim says:

    Good for you, Linda! How many people do you think might have thought what you’re doing was not worth trying or too impossible to try? The only path that leads to nothing is the one you don’t walk.

  3. Forestine says:

    I admire your intense quest for knowledge and the opportunity to find a School where you can learn and expand your expertise, and then a vehicle where you can put it to use. I have never felt age to be a criteria (only the crippling physical aspects which slow the body but not the mind).My husband used to tell me at 70 years of age he was still in his prime. Age is a state of mind. Keep up the good work.

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