Ever hear the phrase “learn from other people’s mistakes?” An internship is a learning experience. A place for you to make mistakes and learn from other’s expertise. Well what better way to learn than from watching it happen on the big screen? So here are my favorite career–focused films that you can learn a lesson from.
Becky (McAdams) is an inexperienced television producer who gets a job at a struggling morning news program called Daybreak. She must quickly get the ratings up in order to save the show from being cancelled with difficult anchors and minimal resources.
Intern lesson: Not every problem is going to have a step-by-step cookie-cutter solution, so learn to think outside the box! Be creative! Why struggle to solve a problem when you can try something new? No one has ever gotten noticed without pushing the boundaries.
“It’s called picking up the game people. So from now on, every single story that we do, it’s going to have to be sensational! We’re going be more aggressive. We’re going work harder and we’re gonna do it right now!”
Jerry Maguire (Cruise) is a big time sports agent who begins to understand what’s wrong with his job. The solution? “Fewer clients, less money” and a personal relationship with those clients.
Intern lesson: It doesn’t matter what kind of position you have, what company you are working for or how much you are getting paid – the intern lesson from Jerry Maguire is not to forget your own morals. Respect of others comes from having a good work ethic. Corner office or self-employed, sports agent or accountant – follow your own moral code.
And if you’re wondering what Jerry Maguire stands for, ask his wife: “How about a little piece of integrity in this world that is so full of greed and a lack of honorability that I don’t know what to tell my son! Except, ‘Here. Have a look at a guy who isn’t yelling ‘Show me the money.’ ’ ”
Andrea “Andy” (Hathaway) dreams of being a journalist but must take a pause on pursing her dream to get more experience. She lands a position “that a million girls would kill for” at Runway Magazine as a second assistant to the ruthless Miranda Priestly. She fetches the coffee, makes the dinner reservations and picks up the dry cleaning. Andy must learn how to make her boss happy while balancing her personal and professional life. Will Andy stick it out for a year, or will she crack under pressure?
Intern Lesson: Tough love is the best love! Not everyone is out to get you, but every once-in-a-while you may have a boss that’s hard to please – you just have to learn to deal with it! And sometimes, there might even be a hard coworker as well. Chances are, you’ll learn more from having a bad boss than you thought would.
Take it from Nigel, “Andy, be serious. You are not trying. You are whining. What is it that you want me to say to you, huh? Do you want me to say, ‘Poor you. Miranda’s picking on you. Poor you. Poor Andy?’ Hmm? Wake up, six. She’s just doing her job.”
Do your job, do it well and prove to your boss that you can handle anything!
Chris Gardner (Smith) has fallen on hard times. As an unemployed, single dad, Chris tries to raise his son after he lands an unpaid, competitive internship at a stockbroker-training program where only 1 out of 20 interns will make the cut (Sony Pictures).
Intern lesson: Take the unpaid internship – hard work pays off. Sorry, but the best internships are usually unpaid. Speaking from personal experience, unpaid or paid, any internship is worth taking.
Good internships are designed to help you learn and to create a stepping-stone to a full-time job. If you work hard and seize the opportunities that are given to you, it will pay off. And if an unpaid internship will help you get closer to your dream – take it and learn from Chris Gardner, “Don’t ever let somebody tell you, you can’t do something. Not even me. All right? You got a dream. You gotta protect it. When people can’t do something themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. If you want something, go get it. Period.”
Erin Brockovich (Roberts) is an unemployed single mother looking for work. After taking a position as a Legal Assistant, who no one takes seriously, Erin works to bring down a power company accused of polluting a City’s water supply (IMDb).
Intern lesson: Keep pushing forward! Erin Brockovich never gives up in this film. Nothing is life is easy, especially your job. The tasks that take the most out of you are usually the ones you will be most proud of when finished. Being challenged will only make you better at what you do. So when life knocks you down? You get back up!
Ryden (Bledel) is a recent graduate who put all of her eggs in one basket. Her dream is to become a book editor and work for Happerman & Browning. When she doesn’t get hired she’s forced to move back home with her parents. Frustrated, Ryden tries to figure out what to do with her life and tries to find a job.
Intern lesson: Things rarely work out the way we plan them. We all have dreams of what we want to do when we grow up and then we work for years to achieve those dreams. It’s ok to change your mind. When Ryden looses out on her dream job, she works for months to find a similar position before she is forced to reevaluate what she wants to do with her life. Keep your options open.
Maybe you’ve experienced one or all of these intern lessons, maybe none of them. But in truth, you’ll never stop learning – from your first internship to your last job. Take the lessons where you can get them and learn from the people around you, on screen or off.
Have an “intern lesson” to share with us? Have you learned something career-saving from a movie? Tell us below!