A PR Internship For Women Over 40 Brings ‘The Intern’ To The Real World
There’s often talk of women “having it all,” which is just as complicated as it sounds — especially for women who completely leave the workforce to raise kids. But once the kids are all grown up and heading off to the school bus by themselves, it’s hard for women to get back into the career game. Which is why this internship program for women over 40 is pretty genius. And it was all inspired by the movie The Intern, according to co-founder Dara Kaplan. “That movie was kind of an aha moment for us,” she told Forbes’ Emily Siegel. “How many times have we witnessed our friends, unable to dive back into the workforce after several years at home? Women over 40 shouldn’t be cast aside for millennials.”
Kaplan is a partner and president of PR firm Wunderlich Kaplan Communications (WKC), and together with the CEO of WKC, Gwen Wunderlich, she created The Enternship, a program that accepts only women over 40 who need to get back to work. The four-week program launched this summer, and according to all involved, it was an empowering and useful experience. They chose eight women out of more than 600 applicants and taught them the skills they need right now in the PR world, including social media.
It wasn’t easy to choose participants. According to Wunderlich, many of the women’s applications sounded defeated and seemed to be asking, “Am I worthless at 54? Am I over the hill at 52? Why will no one hire me?”
Most women still have the skills they used to have and just need a little nudge of training to fit back into their old positions. It’s annoying that firms and companies don’t assume that a woman probably knows she’s a little behind, but coming back means she wants to bust her ass in the office to get her career back. It’s a big deal.
The Lifetime show Younger (which by the way, everyone should binge watch, even if it’s just for the hot dude, if you’re into that sort of thing) is goofy, but the premise is that a woman has to actually pretend to be a 20-something to get a job at a publisher, even though she had years of experience before she took off to raise her daughter. That’s extreme, yes, and probably would never work in real life, but the situation is pretty bad out there.
Because sure, millennials need jobs, too. But age discrimination and the assumption that just because someone isn’t a digital native, they won’t be able to learn the ropes, is just wrong.
I didn’t raise children, but even I’ve experience feeling “out of it” when it came to my career. I lived out of the country for most of my twenties and returning to New York City at 28, and trying to get an internship in the media world (because that is the only fucking way to make it apparently), I felt ancient compared to 22-year-old recent grads who had already had three or more internships and were supposedly more qualified (they were not, thank you very much).
We had the same skills and brains, much like a middle-aged counterpart coming back to the working world would, but the kiddies had the momentum. Much like riding a bike, you have to kick yourself into gear again once you stop, and if hiring managers are judging you on your age, it’s so much harder. It’s also technically illegal.
WKC’s program sounds like a really good way for some women to get going again — it’s a shame there aren’t more programs like that for the less privileged all over the country. Maybe we can ask Hillary for one.