Can You Get An Internship Without College?

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In today’s competitive job market, the question on many aspiring professionals’ minds is, can you get an internship without college? It’s a valid inquiry, as the traditional path of obtaining a degree before embarking on an internship may not be feasible or necessary for everyone.

Changing careers in your 50s or 60s can feel like navigating a tricky Catch-22 situation, similar to the challenge recent college graduates encounter. The conundrum is this: you need experience to land a job in a new field, but acquiring that experience is often contingent on someone taking a chance on you first.

So, the question becomes, how can you break free from this cycle of needing experience to gain experience, especially when you’re looking to pivot into a whole new field later in your career?

In this exploration, we’ll delve into the possibilities and strategies for securing internships without a college degree, shedding light on alternative routes to kickstart your career journey.


Can You Get An Internship Without College?

Absolutely, you can land an internship without going to college. While a college degree can certainly open doors, it’s not the only path to gaining valuable work experience through internships. Many factors come into play, including your skills, networking abilities, and determination.

First and foremost, focus on building a strong skill set. Whether it’s programming, graphic design, marketing, or any other field, honing your skills and creating a portfolio of your work can be just as impressive to potential employers as a degree. Online courses, tutorials, and self-study can help you become proficient in your chosen area.

Networking is another essential aspect of securing an internship. Attend industry events, join online forums and communities related to your field, and connect with professionals on platforms like LinkedIn.

Building relationships can lead to internship opportunities, as many companies value personal connections and recommendations from trusted sources.

While not having a college degree might present some challenges, it’s entirely possible to secure an internship through determination, skill development, and networking. Don’t underestimate the value of your abilities and the power of persistence in pursuing your career goals.

Consider applying for internships at startups or smaller companies. They often have a more flexible hiring process and may be more willing to give you a chance based on your skills and enthusiasm rather than your educational background. Be prepared to showcase your passion, dedication, and how you can contribute to their team.

What Internships Can Do?

More and more baby boomers are taking a cue from college students and diving into the world of internships. The idea that internships are solely for twentysomethings is no longer the case.

If you find yourself in a situation where you want to make a career change due to job loss or simply want to explore options for semi-retirement, consider the benefits of a midlife internship. It’s an opportunity to expand your network, acquire valuable skills, and tangibly showcase your dedication to your chosen new path.

What a Midlife Internship is?

In contrast to volunteering, an internship offers a structured work experience with clearly defined responsibilities and training opportunities. Midlife internships can come in various forms, including paid positions, unpaid roles, or ones that provide a stipend to help cover expenses like housing or travel.

Typically, these internships last from several weeks to six months. While very few guarantee a job at the end of the program, many do lead to eventual offers.

Undoubtedly, it can feel like a gamble to work for little or no pay with the hope of securing a paying job down the road. It can also be a humbling experience to start at the bottom rung of the career ladder after spending years climbing to the top in a different field, as portrayed humorously in movies like “The Internship.”

Nevertheless, under the right circumstances, internships serve as a valuable bridge to a new career path later in life. They offer a practical way to test the waters before committing extensive time and resources to retraining yourself for a new profession.

Where to Find Midlife Internships?

In reality, most midlife internships aren’t something you simply stumble upon – they’re usually something you create for yourself (more on that in a moment).

When you start your internship hunt on online job boards or platforms like LinkedIn, you’ll quickly notice that the majority of internship listings are primarily aimed at college students. 

However, don’t be discouraged, because there are still opportunities open to individuals of all ages. If you come across an internship posting that piques your interest, take the initiative to craft a compelling inquiry letter.

Doug Reichenberger, who now serves as the Director of Career Services at Southern Illinois University, shares a great example. During his time at Malone University, there was a student over 40 who successfully secured a Disney World internship. 

“He prepared his resume, which showcased relevant work experience, applied, and Disney hired him,” Reichenberger recalls.

To streamline your internship search, consider using your preferred job board and filtering results using the keyword “internship.” There are dedicated internship websites like and, as well as flexible job platforms like, which have specific sections for internships.

It’s worth noting that nonprofit organizations often exhibit greater openness to older interns than for-profit companies. They highly value skills such as self-management, which individuals transitioning from the corporate world often bring to the table.

If you’re intrigued by the idea of interning at a nonprofit (sometimes referred to as a fellowship and often offering a stipend), explore resources available on dedicated sites.

Here are few sites where can you get an internship without college:



A nonprofit organization called offers the Encore Fellowships program, allowing seasoned professionals to transition into social-purpose organizations. 

Participants commit to working for six to 12 months, either part-time or full-time, and they receive stipends that vary depending on their specific assignments.


Fuse Corps welcomes entrepreneurial professionals with a minimum of 10 years of experience to spend a year working on projects aimed at creating meaningful social change alongside governors, mayors, and community leaders. 

Some of these fellows are “on-loan” from their companies and continue to receive their regular salary and benefits, while others receive a substantial $90,000 stipend.

3. is a valuable resource for those seeking nonprofit internships. This website lists a multitude of internship opportunities at a wide range of nonprofit organizations, making it a comprehensive platform for job seekers in this sector.


If you’re exploring additional options for career retraining and internships, consider visiting While the platform primarily caters to mothers who have taken career breaks, it also provides information about various reentry programs worldwide, spanning different settings and industries.

Create Your Own Internship

Undoubtedly, one of the most effective ways to secure a midlife internship is to take the initiative and create your own opportunity. This proactive approach is something that Linda Conklin, a career coach at UNC-Chapel Hill Alumni Career Services, encourages both recent graduates and seasoned professionals to consider.

She suggests reaching out to companies that align with your interests and offering your services for free for a period of three months. Make it clear that your goal is to provide valuable assistance while simultaneously enhancing your resume, reputation, and references.

If things go well during your internship, there’s a chance you might be able to turn it into a job offer when your assignment concludes.

To identify potential internship placements, start by reaching out to your alumni career services office. Universities often serve as the initial platform for organizations to post their internship opportunities, and some of these employers may be open to older workers.

When brainstorming potential internship hosts, consider smaller businesses. Many small business owners, often operating on tight budgets, might be excited about the prospect of bringing in an intern with your skills and work experience.

However, it’s essential to communicate clearly that you expect training and mentoring in exchange for your contributions.

To address any concerns an employer may have about your lack of familiarity with their specific field, emphasize the wealth of transferable skills and experiences you bring to the table.

For additional guidance on creating your own internship opportunity, I highly recommend reading “Test-Drive Your Dream Job: A Step-by-Step Guide to Finding and Creating the Work You Love” by Brian Kurth, the founder of It’s a valuable resource for anyone looking to embark on this journey.

3 Tips For Can You Get An Internship Without College?

Before diving into an internship, it’s crucial to consider a few things, especially because you’ll likely be trading a substantial earning potential for the experience. Here’s how to make sure that the opportunity is worth your while:

  1. Set Clear Expectations
  2. Leave Your Ego Behind
  3. Networking Matters

1. Set Clear Expectations:

Before accepting an internship, be sure you understand what you’re signing up for. Clarify your job responsibilities, work hours, compensation (if any), and what you’ll be learning. It’s equally important to know what your employer expects from you.

If you plan to continue your search for a full-time job while interning, try to schedule the internship for three days a week. This way, you’ll have two days free for interviews and job hunting.

2. Leave Your Ego Behind:

It’s essential to be open to your new role as a worker-in-training. As Cary Barbor’s Huffington Post article, “I Was a Middle-Aged Intern,” points out, being an intern for a supervisor the same age as your child can be a bit challenging. It’s all about embracing the learning experience.

3. Networking Matters:

Remember that your internship isn’t just about adding lines to your resume; it’s also an opportunity to build your professional network. Take the time to get to know your colleagues and consider attending industry events where you can connect with others in your field.

This way, the value of your internship will continue to benefit you long after the internship itself has concluded. Networking can open doors you might not have even known existed.

Final Thoughts

Obtaining an internship without a college degree is indeed feasible. While a degree can be advantageous, practical skills, networking, and a proactive approach can bridge the gap. 

It’s a reminder that the path to career growth is diverse, and with determination and the right strategy, internships and valuable opportunities are within reach for individuals regardless of their educational background.

Ultimately, the key to securing an internship without a college degree lies in your ability to showcase your passion, dedication, and the skills you bring to the table.

Embrace the challenge as an opportunity to prove your worth to potential employers, and remember that success often hinges on your drive to learn, adapt, and excel in your chosen field. Your journey may be unconventional, but it can lead to fulfilling and rewarding career experiences.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I get an internship without a college degree?

Absolutely, you can secure an internship without a college degree. While a degree can be advantageous, internships often value practical skills, enthusiasm, and determination.

Focus on honing your skills, networking, and showcasing your commitment to your chosen field, and you can open doors to valuable internship opportunities that can kickstart your career journey, even without a formal college education.

Is there a requirement for internship?

Internship requirements can vary widely depending on the company, industry, and location. While some internships may have specific prerequisites such as a college degree or prior experience, many organizations are open to candidates from diverse backgrounds. What often matters most is your passion, skills, and willingness to learn.

It’s advisable to research individual internship listings to understand their specific requirements and tailor your application accordingly. Ultimately, internships can be a valuable learning experience for candidates at various stages of their educational and professional journeys.

How do I get my first intern?

Getting your first intern typically involves several steps. First, clarify the goals and tasks you want the intern to handle, ensuring that their role will be valuable and structured. Next, create a compelling internship description highlighting the responsibilities and benefits.

Promote this opportunity through your network, on your company’s website, and on internship posting platforms. Consider reaching out to local colleges or universities to advertise the position.

Finally, be prepared to conduct interviews to assess candidates’ skills and fit for your organization. Remember that offering a valuable learning experience can attract enthusiastic interns eager to contribute to your business.

How to get an internship without a good GPA?

To secure an internship without a strong GPA, focus on highlighting your other strengths. Emphasize your practical skills, relevant projects, extracurricular activities, and any relevant work experience on your resume. Create a compelling cover letter that showcases your passion for the field and your determination to learn and contribute.

Leverage your network and seek referrals or recommendations from professors, mentors, or professionals who can vouch for your abilities and work ethic.

Consider applying to smaller companies or startups that may be more flexible in their GPA requirements. Ultimately, demonstrating your commitment, enthusiasm, and skills can help you secure an internship even if your GPA isn’t ideal.

Can I apply to internships without being a student?

Yes, you can apply to internships without being a student. Many organizations offer internships to individuals at various stages of their careers, not just students.

Look for opportunities that align with your skills and career goals, and don’t hesitate to apply and showcase your relevant experience and enthusiasm for the role. Networking and using specialized internship search platforms can also help you find suitable opportunities.

Can you get an internship position without being a student?

Absolutely, you can secure an internship position even if you’re not a student. Many companies offer internships to individuals at different career stages, including mid-career professionals or those seeking to switch fields.

What matters most is your skills, passion, and ability to contribute to the organization’s goals. Tailor your application and network effectively to increase your chances of landing an internship opportunity that matches your career objectives.

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