Should Unemployed Older Workers Be Able To Intern For Free? Your Reaction?


  Are You Making A Radical Career Change?


Let’s say you are one of the unfortunate unemployed skilled workers who chose a lifelong career in an industry that has rapidly decayed , such as the automobile industry, mortgage lending or real estate sales.  You finally decide it is time for a change at age 47. Your new career of choice is to become a social media marketing guru. But you have little expertise in this area. So you are smart, determined and want to dedicate the next 6 month to “retraining”.

You could go to school but that would cost  perhaps a few thousand dollars you do not have.So you do some networking and find some hot local companies that are willing to give you an opportunity to make this career transition. But they want you to train for free as an apprentice/intern.
In most states this is not legal if you are providing any real work product of value. It also usually requires a minimum wage. But it is done everyday by many small businesses.
So I ask you.

  • Why not take the opportunity that could help you make a major career transition?
  • Why should governments interfere in a mutual agreement that allows a skilled worker to learn something new that might further their career?
  • Is this ethically OK?
  • Should federal and state laws be changed to help facilitate this , not hinder it?
Is it time to go Back to the Future. Where real apprenticeships and mentor-ships allowed skills to passed on to a new (not allows younger) generation of workers.  Your insights and Comments are encouraged below.

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22 comments

  1. The article was more interesting than useful. If one such as myself is receiving unemployment benefits, working as an intern for no pay would not be a big problem. But I could see how, as an older person, doing something that feels like work, but not getting paid for it, could be demotivating and frustrating.

  2. "Should" an older worker be able to intern for free? Why not?? There are advantages: keeping one's hand in the game within one's own industry; getting a feel for and exposure within a parallel job; feeling the value of helping out, especially if the internship is in a non-profit or true start-up setting. If a person, older or otherwise, can afford to participate in an unpaid

  3. The plus side can be for someone that has completed course work and yet is stymied by the question of do you have experience, an internship can provide a chance to apply new skills. Going in there needs to be agreement is this just an internship, e.g. 90 days, or is there an opportunity to turn this into a long-term assignment? If this is clearly understood then it makes sense(well for some

  4. The question is how does a person who is older find a way to effectively learn a new career while still working? Very difficult. So can a prospective expert or potential employer provide a mentorship or internship role?

  5. Anonymous

    I think you may want to check with your local unemployment office if you are currently collecting benefits to see if this would affect your benefits. They may want you to be spending your time looking for employment.

  6. Lisa

    There are many people who donate their time &amp; services for free through volunteer organizations, and the work is very satisfying. Money and satisfying work do NOT have to go hand in hand. <br /> <br />The benefit is the opportunity for experience. Unemployment has no problem paying benefits for &quot;worker retraining&quot; so why would they have an issue over &quot;apprenticeship&quot;?

  7. I would do it without hesitating.<br />Sometimes we complain that companies don´t invest in us….but Do WE really invest in us? This is the key point.<br />This is a case where you see if you invest in yourself !<br /><br />In fact I´ve not done exactly the same (I am 47) but something that is pretty close. <br />As the industries/markets are rapidly evolving, I think It´s better to adapt to

  8. Anonymous

    Maybe I&#39;m missing something let&#39;s get rid of more workers rights.<br />It&#39;s an awfully big leap of faith that an internship without being tied into a college related program.<br /> An experienced older worker with a work history and ethic and real world experience has value.<br /> It becomes an issue of how much lower do we have to sink.<br />It is one thing volunteering for non

  9. Anonymous

    Heck, why don&#39;t we just extend this concept across the board. Maybe we can have people work for free as a standard practice. We could compete with Cambodia, Viet Nam, or Pakistan in a race to the bottom. If we got rid of those pesky restrictions on hours worked, maybe we could have the free workers work around the clock, and when they finally got to some point where they would be considered

  10. Anonymous

    Recently I went back to college to make a career change, the program for an associates degree did&#39;nt offer internships. The college suggests volunteer, which they don&#39;t say when signing the dotted line to enroll. Also, the degree I obtained you can&#39;t just walk into a volunteer position with HIPAA laws. So if anyone was to make a career change I would advise to do the research first

  11. Anonymous

    Dan,<br /><br />Due to our current economic circumstaneces I think if the laws should be changed to allow a person to work for free if it is career change type of internship. <br /><br />Employers would need to monitored so they are not taking adavantage of people to get free labor.<br /><br />But, I do not expect the laws to be changed, because of the potential for abuse by employers.

  12. Yes! I would most definitely intern for free. I am recently unemployed and faced with fact that the industry in which I was working is rapidly evolving. I know I need to make upgrade my skills and learn new skills. But, I don&#39;t dare go back to school and take on student loan debt UNTIL I have a job that will allow me to pay that off. The current set of laws and state of the economy have

  13. There is much that someone with life experience can bring to skills that are now in demand. Many of them can be learned very quickly and lead to paid work within days. Instead of looking for a service job that pays poorly I encourage people to consider never having a J.O.B. (Just Over Broke) again.<br /><br />It would not be difficult to develop a demand for specific tasks IF a person is

  14. The government is not our Daddy, we are NOT perpetual children and we do NOT need their permission to create new ways to survive. <br /><br />When have they ever been the solution? They will just keep printing money and causing the value of the dollar to slide so stop looking to them and work on making a world that works. <br /><br />What does government do well? And you want them to protect you

  15. I forgot to mention that I provide free mentoring and will use my reach and influence to recommend and support ethical people doing excellent work. <br /><br />The primary qualifications needed are a good attitude, the ability to self-start, and caring about the quality of what you do. You must be highly ethical and care as much about others as you do yourself. <br /><br />I also mentor small

  16. Anonymous

    Though interesting as a discussion, I think this problem concerns not only over 40&#39;s, but young people without relevent working experience as well. To protect all those lacking relevant experience from employers who gladly use &quot;free labor&quot; on one hand, and to make sure the potential &quot;intern&quot; also wants to invest, I would argue some allowance for costs should be given and /

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