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Too old to intern? Career switch question

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by 1GreytWriter, Sep 18, 2012.

  1. 1GreytWriter

    1GreytWriter Member

    Hi, folks. This is my first post here, though I've lurked around quite a bit.

    I've been out of school for four years. I went in wanting to be a newspaper writer and got interested in sports in my sophomore year when our college paper needed an assistant sports editor. I did that and wrote stories about school sports, and also some features on outstanding coaches/athletes. When I saw late in my college career that the newspaper industry was on the way down, I tossed that option aside and became interested in working with a sports team. However, I never realized that you need to do a ton of internships and have only just woken up to this reality of how competitive it is within the last year or two. I've gotten rejected from pretty much every sports job I apply for, but I have gotten a little interest when I apply for internships.

    I recently got turned down for a sales job with a minor league team, and they offered to forward my resume to the internship coordinator. I accepted the offer because at least the team got back to me. But, I'm now 27 and am very hesitant about interning. It seems there are several teams that will take on a post-college intern, so I'm not worried about that. I'm just nervous about working in an office with all these 20 and 21-year-old interns, even though I generally get along very well with people. I'm also worried that some teams will see me as too old and discard me as soon as they see my college graduation year, or worse yet, wondering why I'm interning still. I mean, it's not like I've never worked since graduating, and I worked all through college.

    I'm also writing for a website right now and have been there for a year, so I do have sportswriting clips. I wrote for a different site for two years, but dropped that when the site I've been on for a year launched a spinoff and I decided I wanted to invest in that.

    Has anyone here ever made the jump to work for a sports team or done an internship first? Heck, has anyone done an internship when they're older? I don't have any offers in hand yet or anything, but I'm just worried about what everyone's going to think of me being an intern, especially employers who might consider it a red flag, even though the economy still pretty much stinks. How do I get past this?
  2. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    Never too old
  3. PCLoadLetter

    PCLoadLetter Well-Known Member

    We had an intern in her mid-40s earlier this year. Any sense of strangeness wore off in about 5 minutes.
  4. Orange Hat Bobcat

    Orange Hat Bobcat Active Member

    About the only way to break in to the minors is to intern, no matter the position, the level, your own past experiences. Most interns are younger, yes, 20, 21, 22, 23, but there are plenty who are older. The Arkansas Travelers have six or seven stadium operations interns every season. One of them this season was 29, a good five or six years older than the rest of the group. As far as I could tell, no one cared.

    If you want to be there and you do the work, you'll fit right in.
  5. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    You're worrying about something before there's any need.

    If you're confident you can or will receive internship offers, and one comes through in your chosen field, why wouldn't you take it?

    Don't worry about anybody else. Your age is none of their business, and shouldn't make any appreciable difference in performance. And, take your graduation year off your resume. It's nobody's business and doesn't make a difference. If it really does, and the hiring people want to find out if/when you graduated, they can contact the university themselves and find out. Or, they can just ask you about it, and why it's taken you a while to get to this point, and what you've done in the interim, and you can explain to them just what you've explained to us.

    Internships are a step you have to take in some fields/businesses. It's as simple as that, and that's why you're doing them, no matter your age.
  6. 1GreytWriter

    1GreytWriter Member

    I've definitely seen some good replies here so far, so thanks for the encouragement.

    Has anyone here worked for a team or applied for a job there? I'm just wondering if I need to do anything special to stand out that normally wouldn't be done in any other field.

    Also, I'm not really sure how to explain why I'm looking for an internship besides saying the economy is tough. I know that's not the best excuse, so does it sound OK to say that I was getting experience that I can bring to a team? I feel one advantage of doing an internship now that I'm a little older is that I know how an office in general functions and I know what needs to be done in a working environment. Plus, since I've had time to work elsewhere while researching the field, I feel like I can say that I know this is what I'm committed to. Does something like that sound good?
  7. wicked

    wicked Well-Known Member

    I was an intern at 25, after waiting a while to go back to school.

    Bust your ass, people won't care. And the likelihood is you're going to work harder than a 21-year-old who's probably out boozing four nights a week.
  8. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    I interned at age 25 in the sports information office of a Division-I FBS school. Eventually led to a full-time assistants job at another school the following year.

    I had spent almost 3 years in newspapers right out of undergrad and decided I wanted to make a change, Internships and graduate assistantships (had a couple of those offers) were the only avenues open at the time (early 1990s).

    So I would say it is never too old, but you have to understand you are competing against younger people and be willing to work for peanuts (as I did) and not whine about how overqualified you are. But if you want to do it, emphasize your maturity and experience in other areas that will make you stand apart from other candidates.

    Good luck.
  9. PCLoadLetter

    PCLoadLetter Well-Known Member

    Mark brings up a valid point about the pay.

    A few years ago a major pro team in town had a media relations job open and I was considering applying. I talked to a friend who was well-connected with that department. She pointed out that the team was loaded with unpaid interns working long hours who were thrilled to be around real live pro athletes, and that any number of them would gleefully work 60 hour weeks in the media relations department for little or no pay. It's not a good situation if you're looking to someday make a livable wage.
  10. 21

    21 Well-Known Member

    How old will you be if you don't intern?
  11. 1GreytWriter

    1GreytWriter Member

    Thanks. I actually thought about sports information a little bit ago. One of my contacts suggested it to me when I was looking for some advice, but after pursuing Cosida, I found I'm pretty much underqualified because everyone wants previous sports information experience, even the assistant jobs. I gave up on that pretty fast.
  12. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    Yeah Grey, you almost have to do time as an intern or grad assistant to even have a shot at a legitimate college (or pro team) SID job.

    Sort of for fun, I did a newspaper story two years ago on the life of an SID. Interviewed three working SIDs at area universities, plus an AD who used to be an SID years ago. Ran it on a slow night in January with nothing else going on. Was shocked at the amount of positive feedback it got.

    Bottom line, if you have the skills to be a journalist, you have the skills to do that. Yes, there is a little more brown-nosing and political correctness involved, and that turns some people off. But it's one of those areas we often talk about with transferable skill sets.
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