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What’s a Golden Intern? Naborforce Launches a Returnship Program

Caregiving business gives older adults a pathway back to work

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Jim Norwood, Naborforce Golden Intern
Courtesy Naborforce

Having served as a caregiver for her aging mother, Naborforce founder Paige Wilson resolved to continue a life of service after her mother died. But she soon found herself disillusioned and constrained by the rigid schedules available under volunteer caregiving programs.

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Paige Wilson, Founder of Naborforce
Courtesy Naborforce

Then a conversation with a friend sparked the idea to create a flexible service that would allow people to find caregiving help much like they would order takeout or book a virtual class. Based in Richmond, Virginia, Naborforce is an on-demand caregiver and companion service for older adults. Since launching in August 2018, the company has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and on CBS and Axios. In 2021, Naborforce won the Consumer Technology Association Foundation Pitch Competition, sponsored by AARP Innovation Labs.

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Why Naborforce is an AARP Employer Pledge Signer

In 2019, Naborforce signed the AARP Employer Pledge, in which an employer affirms the value of older adults in its workplace. Wilson and her team joined a group of more than 2,000 pledge signers who have committed to building multigenerational workforces, contributing to the long-term financial security of experienced employees and breaking stigmas around an aging labor force.

Wilson says, “Older workers are the heart of Naborforce. Our ‘Nabors’ [as the caregivers are called] are a vibrant mix of empty nesters and retirees who bring compassion and a lifetime of experience to the seniors we support. Nabors are seeking purpose and connection in their own lives and understand that by enriching the lives of our older adult clients, they are enriching their own lives in return. They are steadfastly committed to our mission of bringing joy to the aging process and are the perfect companions to an older adult who simply needs a neighborly helping hand — or maybe a new friend.”

The value of older adults in the workplace

Older employees can not only contribute to the productivity and expertise of a team but also improve overall workplace culture. AARP Employer Pledge Signers value older employees in the workplace because they:

  • Bring maturity and wisdom to the workplace.
  • Are reliable employees.
  • Have a strong work ethic.
  • Find purpose, belonging and connection in their roles, making them highly engaged employees.
  • Are adaptable in high-stress situations.
  • Bring experience in time management.
  • Build trust with clientele and provide exceptional customer service.
  • Boost the mental health of younger employees in the workplace, especially during times of uncertainty.
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Because more adults are working later in life, bridging the gap between experienced professionals and opportunities for their meaningful employment has become a critical concern for businesses nationwide. Naborforce operates at the intersection of social connection and inclusivity. The organization’s vision extends beyond connecting older caregivers to clients in need of their services. Naborforce also strives to foster a company culture in which every individual, regardless of age or circumstance, can actively contribute to the workforce. At the core of its philosophy lies a belief in the untapped potential of experienced professionals seeking to reenter the workforce or transition within it.

Enter Naborforce’s newly launched return-to-work program, known as Golden Interns. After joining the AARP Employer Pledge Program — which hosts quarterly calls, convenes policy roundtables and produces resources to help build age-inclusive organizations — Naborforce launched its first paid internship program for active retirees. This year’s two Golden Interns are a 70-year-old and an 81-year-old working in the company’s tech and business development departments. The Golden Interns program not only revitalizes the careers of seasoned individuals but also enriches the workforce with their invaluable soft skills.

Naborforce’s return-to-work program adds the employer to a small yet growing list of companies that offer mid- and late-career returnship programs. Designed to address the unique challenges faced by individuals seeking to return to work after a hiatus, whether due to caregiving responsibilities, personal reasons or retirement, these programs provide a supportive pathway back into the workforce.

Key features of the Golden Interns program

Orientation. Naborforce’s orientation program is a structured, rotational training process with each department head. This includes hands-on training with the customer service, sales, marketing and technology business units. Throughout orientation, interns review the purpose and vision of Naborforce, as well as its business model and growth plans. At the completion of orientation, interns start training that is specific to their internship and meet with their manager twice a week.

Skill enhancement. The Golden Interns program also focuses on skill enhancement and modern office tools that did not exist years ago. More specifically, the Golden Interns are exposed to — and master — productivity tools such as Slack, Google Sheets and Zoom.

Mentorship and networking. Naborforce recognizes the significance of mentoring and networking in career advancement. As part of the program, participants are connected with mentors and peers who provide guidance, support and networking opportunities that can facilitate a smoother transition back into the workforce.

Impact of age inclusion on employers

Thirty percent of Naborforce employees are 50 or older, according to the organization. Naborforce’s Golden Interns program benefits older professionals while bringing stability to the team and positively influencing the quality of work of younger workers.

Through returnship programs, employers such as Naborforce can gain access to a diverse pool of experienced talent who bring a wealth of knowledge, skills and perspectives to their teams. Moreover, by embracing flexibility and inclusivity, organizations can foster a culture of innovation and adaptability, driving greater productivity and employee satisfaction.

As Naborforce continues to expand its reach and impact, the opportunities to work look increasingly promising for experienced professionals seeking to reenter the workforce or transition within it. Through ongoing partnerships, advocacy and innovation, Naborforce remains committed to empowering individuals as they age, creating heartfelt service and reshaping the narrative of age and employment.

In a society that can undervalue the contributions of seasoned professionals, Naborforce’s Golden Interns program stands as a testament to the transformative power of embracing aging and ability. By recognizing and harnessing the potential of experienced talent, Naborforce not only revitalizes careers but also cultivates a more dynamic, resilient and compassionate workforce for the future.

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