Winter 2020
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Career Redo
CTDO Magazine

Career Redo

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Millennials are turning to midcareer internships to reset their career paths.

Millennials are no longer the new kids on the work block. Many of them are in their 30s, and not surprising, they're experiencing high rates of job dissatisfaction. According to Deloitte's Global Millennial Survey 2019, of more than 13,000 millennials across 42 countries, 49 percent will quit their jobs within the next two years. That's a significant increase; that number was 38 percent in Deloitte's 2017 report.


These are not idle threats: About a quarter of millennials reported having left an employer in the past 24 months. The reasons for wanting to leave (or having actually left) are familiar. Dissatisfaction with pay and lack of advancement and professional development opportunities top the list.

But nearly half of millennials also believe new technologies will augment their jobs, but only about one in five respondents in the Deloitte survey believe they have all the skills and knowledge they need for work shaped by Industry 4.0. Further, more than two-thirds (70 percent) say they may only have some or a few of the skills required and will need to evolve their own capabilities.

"How they'll acquire the skills is a source of some debate," reports Deloitte. Millennials say business  has the greatest responsibility for preparing workers, followed by educational institutions. Some millennials, though, are taking charge of their own career fate and embracing midcareer internships as an alternative way to gain the necessary skills for evolving industries, relaunch their careers, or switch professional paths before it becomes too late.

Often referred to as minternships, these midcareer internships are becoming increasingly popular with workers in their 30s as a way to reroute their career paths and find a job that's a better fit.

Sue Hawkes, CEO of the executive business coaching firm YESS! and author of Chasing Perfection, tells Fast Company, "Taking a minternship is a pause from the busyness of life to offer space and time to observe yourself, your patterns, how much joy and meaning your career offers you while learning, growing, and testing something new."

Minternships also reflect how millennials think about their careers and learning. "They are open to change, new industries, and seek opportunities to be challenged in new ways," writes HR professional Stacy Pollack in an article for Glassdoor.

A mintership offers benefits to companies, too. While a traditional internship position may have been created for students looking to ground themselves and find their first working experience, minterns typically return to this entry-level status after gaining meaningful experience in a previous career. But this means minterns bring previous work experience, and companies can capitalize on their existing knowledge.

More importantly, these older minterns are equipped with the know-how of what it takes to work hard to see results. In other words, they have a certain level of maturity that traditional 20-year-old interns may not have.

An obvious downside is that taking on a minternship sidelines workers from their current career tracks and purposely returns them to an organization's entry levels. No doubt, there will be a financial hit that comes with swapping out a midcareer salary for that of an intern.


Harder to swallow is the resetting of title and responsibility. That type of starting over with younger colleagues can lead to feelings of inadequacy.

In the long run, the benefits for minterns seeking a career change likely outweigh the disadvantages. Career goals can change.

When the work individuals are doing in their current job doesn't align with how they see their future, a midcareer internship is a way to hit to the reset button and find a path more in line with their interests and priorities. It can fill in the missing information about an industry or role they are curious about and help them decide whether their new pursuit is a right fit before they trek down another unsuitable path.

What's more, it's a way to take a step back, re-embrace a learning mindset, and find a job that's more personally fulfilling.

Read more from CTDO magazine: Essential talent development content for C-suite leaders.

About the Author

Ryann K. Ellis is an editor for the Association of Talent Development (ATD). She has been covering workplace learning and performance for ATD (formerly the American Society for Training & Development) since 1995. She currently sources and authors content for TD Magazine and CTDO, as well as manages ATD's Community of Practice blogs. Contact her at [email protected]

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