Mid-Career Internships: A New HR Trend

As over 40 percent of U.S. women with children leave their careers for a period of time, addressing career re-entry challenges is a valid concern for many HR professionals. One solution: mid-career internships.

Since 2000, the workforce participation rate among women between ages 25 to 54 has fallen from 74 to 69 percent. And according to 2013 Bureau of Labor Statistics data, among women with children under 3 years old, the workforce participation rate is even lower at roughly 62 percent.

Recognizing these trends has highlighted the challenges many women face with returning to work — from depreciating value of their experience, to simply adjusting to the work schedule while juggling family. That’s where mid-career internships come into play.

Similar to any other internship, professional mid-career internships work much in the same way by providing an opportunity for employers to evaluate an employee based on job performance rather than just their resume. At the same time, they consider and aim to leverage a candidate’s prior professional experience while offering additional training opportunities and exposure to a company’s culture. And, as many are offered on a part-time basis, women can ease into the work schedule before assuming a full-time position.

According to a recent Harvard Business Review article by Carole Fishman Cohen, CEO of iRelaunch, “professional internships are emerging as a special category of progressive action for employers and a powerful return-to-work strategy for individuals.” And while professional internships are especially popular among women who are re-entering the job market after taking time off to raise children, they are also ideal for anyone who has taken time off from their career for a variety of other personal reasons including caring for an aging parent.

Developing innovative ways to address the new and evolving workforce challenges of our society, such as career re-entry programs for women, is a big part of becoming a successful HR professional. That’s why at Limestone College students who are pursuing a Bachelors in Human Resource Management take courses such as HR 311 – Staffing and Labor Relations and HR 420 – Staff Development and Training. These courses provide a solid foundation of key HR functions critical to sustaining a company’s talent pool and supporting competitive advantage, including recruiting, hiring, and training.