One of the main contributors to the gender wage gap is that women often leave the workforce just before their prime earning years to have children or care for other family members. And after they've been out of corporate America for a while, many women find it difficult to reenter—or, once they do, to command a salary on par with what they were earning when they left. Many times, their career skills just aren't up to date.
There are more than 3 million women with college or advanced degrees trying to re-enter the workforce, according to one estimate. And now there's a new program aiming to help at least some of those women overcome hurdles and get back to work. The Enternship, founded by PR execs Dara Kaplan and Gwen Wunderlich of Wunderlich Kaplan Communications, is an internship program with a twist: It's open to women who've either left their jobs to have children, are retired or semi-retired, or just want to learn how to use Twitter to further their own interests.
"People are always like millennials, millennials, millennials. Millennials are great, but what about Baby Boomers, what about Gen X?" says Wunderlich. "There is so much talent out there. Millennials are great, but they are not the end all be all."
Inspired by the Robert De Niro/Anne Hathaway flick The Intern, the four-week Enternship program teaches eight women PR and communications skills for the modern age: how to write press releases, pitch projects, build social media brands, and more.
"After being around a lot of friends who are women over 40, we kept hearing the same thing, 'We keep being told we’re too old, we’re too out of date, we don’t know how to use Snapchat, no one will hire us,' " says Kaplan. "But even if you don’t know technology, it doesn’t mean that you’re over 40, you lose all value."
While Kaplan and Wunderlich envisioned the Enternship as a way to help women who wanted to get into PR, they quickly realized that they skills they're teaching, like pitching products and designing websites, are in demand for any number of fields, especially entrepreneurship. The inaugural group included women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, a veteran CNN journalist, and a lawyer, among others.
The program completed its first cycle last week. It will launch again next month, and Kaplan says the partners have already received more than 1,200 resumes from women all over the country. (Interested candidates can send cover letters and resumes to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line Enternship.)
Given the high demand—and need to be in New York for the four-week session—the women are launching online seminars on August 4 and looking to expand the in-person sessions to other women-led PR firms across the country. In a few months they plan to offer a similar course for "enterprising young women" under 22.
"What’s really amazing about it is, we’ve had such a phenomenal response," Wunderlich says. "We’re trying to help as much as we can. We want to make a bigger impact."