"The 50-Year-Old Intern"

Recent Ashford University graduate uses internship to transition to new career in journalism, mimics national trend of growing percentage of older workers

In some ways, Columbus resident Celeste Chappell-Bates is like thousands of other interns: A recent college graduate setting out on an exciting new career path, unsure about her employment options. Yet, she has a few more years of experience than your typical intern. At 50 years young, Chappell-Bates is using her internship and new college degree for a dramatic career change.

Chappell-Bates just graduated from Ashford University with a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication. However, not wanting to wait until graduation to get started on her new broadcast journalism career, she has been interning as a communications manager with a local IT consulting firm for the past 14 months. There, she writes press releases and letters to the editor, and has even developed a mentoring program with a local television reporter in Columbus.

"I was at the Jazz and Rib fest in Columbus and walked right up to the news truck introduced myself to the reporter, and said 'I'm going to be your new co-worker.' That began a great mentorship, and I have learned a great deal about broadcast journalism. I've been able to take all the preparation from my Ashford courses and evolve them into a real-world broadcast model," Chappell-Bates said.

In short order, Chappell-Bates will be part of one of the fastest-growing sectors of the population: Workers over age 55. According to a recent analysis by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 25.2 percent of the workforce will be over 55 by 2020, up from 13 percent in 2000.

Like many working students and mid-career changers, many of which are moms like her, Chappell-Bates found that the online education model best fit her hectic schedule. According to a recent national consumer poll by Penn Schoen Berland on behalf of Ashford University, 80 percent of moms surveyed thought an online higher-education degree program was better tailored to their needs than a traditional program.

In order to complete her education, Chappell-Bates applied for and won an online full-tuition scholarship from Ashford University as part of Project Working Mom. From thousands of applicants, Chappell-Bates was thrilled to be one of only 10 winners nationwide. Her application essay addressed her life with her kids, their struggle for independence, and her desire to reinvent herself with a new career after previous employment as a flight attendant.

“I was absolutely stunned – it was a watershed moment between the impossible and the possible,” she said about the experience. “I tried to complete my degree my entire adult life and so many things kept getting in the way – finances being the biggest obstacle – and that was taken away in an instant. It was unbelievable, a huge blessing.”

As a new college graduate at age 50, she's excited about her opportunities and choices ahead. "I feel like it's a new chapter and I'm ready."


About Ashford University

Ashford University is defining the modern college experience by combining the heritage of a traditional campus with the flexibility and effectiveness of online learning. The University provides a vibrant learning community where high-quality programs and leading-edge technology create a dynamic, immersive and stimulating learning experience. Ashford University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association (www.ncahlc.org). The University offers practical and progressive associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs online, as well as bachelor’s degree programs at its Clinton, Iowa, campus. Ashford University – where heritage meets innovation. For more information, please visit www.ashford.edu or call Shari Rodriguez, associate vice president of Public Relations, at 858.513.9240 x2513.