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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

News: "Some workers well past the age of helping out for college credit accept internships" (3)

For many older contenders who began their careers during the typewriter age, such internships can come with steep costs.

Most internships require large time commitments, which could create a burden for people who have other mouths to feed and college tuitions to pay.

It can also jeopardize unemployment insurance, according to Manhattan labor lawyer Larry Cary. Unpaid interns can still collect benefits as long as they're actively looking for paid work.

"If you're going to do this, you need to establish the parameters right from the start," Cary said. "The problem for some people is that they're so grateful to be at a particular company or institution that they don't ask the right questions ahead of time."

Just as jobs have become harder to come by, so have internships. A study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found 21% fewer internships offered this year than in 2008.

To land one of these spots - especially if you're old enough to be more familiar with "American Bandstand" than "American Idol" - you need to be able to explain why you're willing to take a step back.

"The key thing is to articulate what you hope to gain in terms of learning something new, and why you want to do it on the job as opposed to in the classroom," said Bobby Edelman, who runs the Web site

That was the case with 35-year-old Asif Zulfiqar.

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