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40-year-old interns finding way back into the workforce

Jan. 4, 2013 at 1:53 PM ET

Getting full-time work is even harder when you've got a resume gap, as many moms find out when they try to re-enter the workforce after taking a few years off to raise the kids.

In order to land a new job, you need to be able to talk about your last job -- but no one will give you that job without recent experience. That's why more adults are finding themselves interns at 40. They're also finding internships to be successful on-ramps to full-time jobs. Carol Fishman of IRelaunch.com, which hosts conferences dedicated to return-to-work issues, and Lisa Belkin, a Huffington Post senior columnist on family issues, chatted about the trend on TODAY.

These internships are short-term, temporary work arrangements where adults typically work for low pay at reduced hours in order to build up new experience and prove their worth again.

"It's a tryout, and you have to see it that way and you have be willing to take the tradeoffs," said Belkin. "For many women, it's the perfect thing to do."

The company you land the internship with may decide to increase you to a full-time role if things work out and they see a fit, and the "40-year old intern" gets trained up on the latest tools. They're also buffing up their resume.

"It's really important to focus on the experience itself and not so much on the pay," said Fishman. "It's much more productive to focus on what you learned in your internship then to talk about the fact that you just came off of an eight-year career break."

If the company doesn't offer a formal program, as the trend is just starting to see an upswing, don't feel shy about proposing your own internship.

"If you're in an interview and you think the hiring manager is hesitant to hire you because of a career break, suggest a short-term arrangement," said Fishman. "It will take out the perceived risk ... of hiring you permanently."

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