Published on June 25, 2015

Hollywood Internships vs Real-life Internships: What did they get right?


It’s no surprise to any of us that Hollywood has its own take on just about everything from historical events to classic stories and legends we think we already know. Therefore, it starts to make one curious about what is realistic and what’s been tainted by cinema. Let’s take internships, for example.

In the movie, The Internship, Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn are accepted as interns at Google. Although the movie does a comedic take on internships, some of the internship concepts are actually spot on, while others are not.

Now this isn’t the first time Hollywood has portrayed an untraditionally aged character as an intern. In season nine of Friends, Chandler wants to switch career paths where he goes into advertising (without going back to school) and he does so by getting an unpaid internship. This then eventually lands him a full-time job as a copywriter.

In the movie, Post-Grad, Alexis Bledel didn’t land her dream job and had to move back in with her parents. Maybe if she had pursued an internship things would have gone differently.

When it comes to The Internship, let’s start off with why they choose to do an internship at Google in the first place. Both have lost their jobs and decide they don’t want to settle for careers they aren’t interested in. It’s not even for the reason that they have no work experience. It’s because they want to break into a new industry and discover a career they love which is why a good percentage of people decide to take on an internship. Instead of going back to school for a new career path, why not try to break into the industry with some real-life work experience first? That way you can decide if it’s even the career for you without wasting years of schooling. Finding out whether you do or don’t like a field is an equally valuable lesson. Learning what you wouldn’t want to pursue further allows you to throw it by the wayside so you can make way for more beneficial job prospects.


Basically, we’ve been told since high school that as long as you finish your degree and get good grades, you’ll find your dream job.

I believe Vaughn sums it up quite nicely when it comes down to how a lot of college graduates feel in relation to the job search in the following statement:

"I feel like our whole generation of sheep has been sold a bad bill of goods. We were told, go to college, you get a job, you get a mortgage, and here we did everything the way we were supposed to, and what do we get? Where's our thanks? Nothing.”

This is a pretty rude awakening for most of us as we end up working some less-than interesting jobs (ie call centers and retail) that may or may not require a degree. We had to move back in with our parents due to no real or at least no desirable job opportunities. It’s one thing to find a job; it’s a whole other ballgame finding a job you love. And companies don’t even want to hire you without experience. And you can’t get experience without a job. It’s a catch-22. Although Vaughn and Wilson are presented as not being able to get a good job because they are out of the loop age-wise when it comes to anything modern, one of the brilliant young interns on their team also complains about the difficulty of finding a job. She even states that a quarter of students graduating from college don’t have a job afterward because basically they are overeducated with little work experience. The point is that it’s not enough to get a bachelor degree or even a master degree anymore. It’s not enough to join the soccer team, a fraternity, and be president of the marketing club. You’ve got to make your resume or CV stick out in other ways or your dream job is going to take one look at your application and think, so what else do you have to offer? I’ve seen 50 applications just like this today.

How competitive is it out there really? Well, according to Owen Wilson’s character, Nick, “we’re looking at some sort of mental Hunger Games against a bunch of genius kids for just like a handful of jobs.”

An internship gives you the competitive edge you need to stand out amongst the crowd and show your potential employer that you’re different in the most enticing way possible. It says ‘I made the effort to get the experience in my field because I want a job in this industry that badly and I’m willing to go the extra mile.’

International Internships:

In the beginning of the film, Vaughn’s girlfriend complains about never having gone to Spain because they stuck around their town for work and never left. And he claims eventually they will get there. Now is it me or would this have been a perfect opportunity to combine an internship with your dream destination?

Let’s face it. The world has become and will continue to become extremely globalized. Unfortunately, there are not many straightforward ways to get that global experience to stay ahead of the curve. There’s a bureaucracy system involved with some messy red tape: visas. There’s the issue of getting a reputable role at a company that is relevant to your industry sector. And then there’s the idea that you are on your own, in a different country, trying to navigate finding an apartment in a safe neighborhood all the while finding your way around on the transportation system. There are no guarantees and no support. Well, that’s where The Intern Group comes in to sort this all out for you with a customized internship program based on your profile and what it is you personally need professionally-speaking.

Internship Perks:
Flat White Coffee

The Internship definitely portrays Google as having a lot of perks like free meals, juice bars, and even sleep pods. In actuality, yes, Google is known for its amazing freebies for its interns and employees. But how does this compare to the average internship? In reality, most internships don’t include all these perks or even compare to Google.

But when it comes down to it, some have perks you wouldn’t even imagine at Google Headquarters. For example, interning internationally gives you the perk of being able to grab an amazing local Spanish breakfast at a quaint café in, let’s say, Madrid. Or what about the best cup of to-go coffee you’ve ever had on the way to your internship in the morning in a country such as Colombia. And at times our interns have even met celebrities, such as one of our marketing interns who actually got to meet Michael Phelps through her PR & Marketing internship in London which is mentioned in her testimonial video here.

Internship Supervisors:

Wilson and Vaughn’s supervisor don’t seem to like them very much and actually seems like he wants them to fail. Although he’s much less of a tyrant than, let’s say, Anna Wintour in Devil Wears Prada where the main character, Andy, is forced to be more of a personal slave than an assistant. She runs trivial errands, even after hours, and must abide by her every whim. Are supervisors actually this condescending to interns in real life?

Honestly, as in every aspect of your work career, you’ll have good and bad supervisors. But mostly supervisors and mentors are there to teach you transferable skills to get you the background experience you need to push yourself forward in your career. A lot of our interns actually finish their internships with the feedback that their supervisor was one of the best parts of their professional development. It’s all about what you make of it. Make sure your supervisor is aware of what extra responsibilities you’d like to take on to fulfill your professional needs and make your resume or CV stand out from your peers.

And the beauty of an international internship is that they truly value your international, fresh perspective. This is a quality that their local employees won’t have because they aren’t coming from elsewhere in the world. You bring a different professional culture to the office and the company values this.

Internship End Results:

In the end of The Internship, they get jobs via a Google competition after they’ve all tried arduously to make it to the top. While these fictitious competitions don’t lead to actual jobs, in reality, your internship can lead to a job. Your excellent performance at your internship, as well as company need, can and has led to full-time positions although it is by no means guaranteed for everyone.

In fact, other than getting hired by the actual company you intern with, you can make your internship the standout resume piece you need to get hired by a different company in your industry. A company is more likely to hire you after you already have experience. Through an internship, doors are opened to a job network, references, and contacts that you wouldn't have otherwise.

At the Intern Group, 88% of those who do an internship find work at a graduate level job within three months and 95% of the participants say the program was good for their career path, according to David Lloyd who is The Intern Group’s founder.

Want to get more Hollywood portrayed internships? You can find another internship-related movie coming soon with Anne Hathaway and Robert DeNiro called Intern here.


Photo 1 based on Shinya Suzuki,CC-by-2.0

Photo 2 based on Russell James Smith, CC-by-2.0

Photo 3 based on Samuel Mann, CC-by-2.0

The author
Bridget McAndrew

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