Hollywood is not great when it comes to portraying the real world of business. It tends to focus on extreme characters in extreme situations, as you’d expect. Just occasionally, though, a movie tells a story that most of us with an interest in the world of work can enjoy, and even gain something from.
The Intern is one such film for me.
First of all, I love the idea of senior interns. This idea taps into my concerns about how experience in the workplace is largely undervalued. I’ve never heard of this actually happening except, I suppose, in the voluntary sector, but Robert De Niro’s character, Ben, demonstrates exactly what is lost when older employees are written off. He brings calm and offers wisdom because he’s seen it all before and he’s not overwhelmed by change. To think that when you reach a certain again you are no longer capable of adapting has always seemed ludicrous to me. Some find change easier than others, some embrace it while others resist it, and it doesn’t matter how old you are.
If you are aware of any senior intern schemes I’d love to hear about it. Please leave a comment.
Another point made by the film is that it’s not specific technical knowledge that is needed, even in a high-tech business. Obviously, this depends on the role, but so many times have I read job descriptions asking for industry experience when clearly it is not required. Often it’s used as a tool to reduce the number of applications, but I would argue that it’s a bad way of doing so, because there’s something lost when organisation exclude those from outside their sector. Inbreeding is not healthy.
However, the really important message I thought the film made was to do with the way women entrepreneurs, and for that we can assume all senior women executives, often feel they are making a sacrifice to fulfil their business dream. What man would worry over his right to be committed to his work the way Jules (Anne Hathaway) does? The movie asks why women are even in a position where they question their choice to be the hard working mum with the stay-at-home husband.
Finally, another point the film makes that is relevant to everyone at work: eat well, sleep well, exercise and make time for friends and family. That’s how to ensure you perform at your best at work.
I very much enjoyed The Intern and if none of this has persuaded you to see it, then I’ll just add that there’s a very nice neck massage scene too.