A cross between the 90s movie ‘Picture Perfect’ (starring Jennifer Aniston) and the tear-jerking cartoon ‘Up’, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the ‘The Intern’ was more than your standard rom-com.
In fact, the movie covers a variety of very real issues such as sexism in the workplace and the glass ceiling, the balance between work and home life, marriage roles, and the pressures of being an entrepreneur.
Robert de Niro plays the endearing 70 year old widower, Ben Whittaker, who joins a Senior Internship Programme for an upcoming online fashion store in a bid to fill the lonely days of his retirement. Much to his surprise, Ben is assigned to the company’s high-strung creator and boss, Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway).
Jules is initially skeptical of Ben, but it’s not long before a friendship blossoms on a basis of mutual respect.
However, it quickly becomes apparent that whilst Jules is incredibly successful, she is struggling to cope with the rapid growth of her company. Moreover, with a stay-at-home husband who gave up his high flying career to support her dreams, and a young (and adorable!) daughter in need of attention, Jules finds it almost impossible to keep her home life happy.
A heart-warming and inspiring comedy, this is one movie that every working girl needs to watch.
I couldn’t help but be inspired by the movie and its two leading characters, and the awesome career lessons that we can learn from both of them, so I thought I would write 7 things we can all take away from ‘The Intern’:
[Warning: Contains spoilers!]
- We can all learn from those both younger and older than ourselves
One of the most wonderful things about ‘The Intern’ is the relationship between Jules and Ben.
Despite being significantly older and more experienced, Ben greatly admires Jules and all that she has achieved – he sees how she has built her own empire, how she juggles her family and her work, her level of professionalism and drive. Ben is downright impressed and it’s he who urges her to keep managing her own company because he knows that she is doing something that no one else, including him, can do.
Equally, Jules quickly realises that she was wrong to write Ben off as a slow, fumbling pensioner. He proves himself to be observant, sharp, knowledgeable and wise. Not to mention that his experience in business and the workplace proves to be incredibly valuable.
Plus, the scene where Jules sets Ben up with his own Facebook account? Adorable.
- Attention to detail is key
When it comes to work, it’s easy to miss the small things (we don’t always note that brief but crucial sub-note in an email or instruction!)
But it’s actually the small details that make the difference between you being a good worker and an excellent one (and it can be the difference between your company business being merely acceptable and fantastic.)
There is an awesome scene where Jules orders herself some clothes from her own website to see what kind of state they arrive in. Whilst the clothes are good, she finds the packaging to be sub-par. So, she goes to the packing warehouse and demonstrates to her workers personally how to correctly fold and wrap the items.
Jules’ company is a success because of her attention to detail – because every aspect of her company must be up to her high standards, and it’s something that she ensures that personally.
- You have to really want it
Whilst Jules is very glamorous with her beautiful New York house, stylish clothes and stunning office, it’s clear that running her own company is hard. She has to sacrifice time with her husband and her daughter. She struggles to readily acknowledge her staff and often has to be a hardass. She also has people pressuring her to hire a CEO to take off some of the stress.
But she keeps at it because she loves it.
Most things that are worth doing don’t come easily. You have to work for it and you have to want it.
- Making friends with your co-workers makes life lighter
The minute that Jules lets her guard down and starts to make friends with her employees, her whole demeanour changes for the better. (Side note: who else loved the subtle change in costume during the film as Jules became more laid back?) Her staff feel more valued and relaxed, and the office becomes a healthier place.
Also, because Ben is sociable and friendly in the office, the whole office is brighter.
- Be proactive and use your initiative
At the beginning of the movie, Jules (wrongly) assumes that Ben is a slow worker who has nothing of value to offer the company. After all, he doesn’t even know how to turn the computer on! Consequently, Jules ignores him and refuses to give him any tasks.
Instead of feeling sorry for himself or complaining, Ben gives himself basic jobs to do such as delivering the office mail. Jules can’t help but be impressed and it’s not long before Ben is given more responsibility.
Using your initiative at work takes confidence and many people are afraid of doing something off their own bat in case they get it wrong. However, using your initiative can really make you stand out – it doesn’t have to be huge, start out small.
- Dressing the part will help keep you sharp
By the end of watching ‘The Intern’ I was fully prepared to go out and start dressing to impress. The heels, the smooth and simple hairstyle, and the classic makeup all made Jules to come across as a stylish yet practical woman. That is how a Girlboss dresses!
Side note: if you work from home, it’s hard to feel professional wearing jeans and a t-shirt (or just your pyjamas!), so try neatening things up with a pair of smart shoes and a blazer.
- Even the most successful lives aren’t perfect
As I said, the film is as much about Jules’ struggle with her personal life as it is about her business and her budding friendship with Ben: the parents at her daughter’s school think that she’s a shitty mum and it turns out (major spoiler here) that her husband is having an affair.
It’s sometimes easy to judge those who are more “successful” than ourselves as having an easier ride or thinking that they “have it all”, but that’s not always the case.
Equally, it’s easy to think that if only we had the perfect career or we just had that perfect guy, all our problems will go away.
If there’s one thing I learned from this movie, it’s that there is no such thing as the perfect career, and that being successful at work doesn’t equal being successful everywhere else in life.
What did you make of the movie? Leave your comments below or Tweet me.