In most popular movie productions on the big screen, we almost always see interns as background characters following their supervisors around the office with their laptops and sticky notes. As the main protagonist? I bet you can count all you have seen in one hand. So, do you recall any movies where the main characters are actual interns? College students who are working towards getting internships? You’ve probably heard of some of them – more or less.
To an extent, they are accurate depictions of the reality that we live in. Like with every other difficult aspect of our lives, we construct a fun culture around the things that bring us down i.e. work. In other words, we revert back to our best coping mechanism to date: humor, to get through our stress (-’full’) days. Hence the annual releases of movies about interns, internship, work, and work culture. Can’t deal with work stress? Get your mind off work. Have a good laugh about it! That’s how our primitive brains function anyways. By now, you probably agree that comedy is essential to our daily life and well-being!
Despite being dressed up as drama comedies, modern office toxicity continues to be the main focus of internship movies, highlighting long lists of social issues that you easily identify and pick apart. The absence of diversity, the lack of inclusion, discriminations, and exploitations are nothing new to today’s patriarchal work environment, which begs the question of whether or not the world is (read: ‘you are’) ready to work on these problems and what actions are required of us to solve them.
While you could technically look at this plainly as a marketing attempt by the media industry, it goes deeper than that. What inspired them to risk getting on people in suits and ties’ bad side and get themselves in trouble? It’s right of you to think so! Of course, they feel obligated to tell the story. They want to make a strong statement about what they are passionate about: the generational work culture and internships, etc. They want to call for real changes in the work environment. And they are asking you for help! They either do it explicitly like in The Internship (2013) and The Intern (2015) dealing with issues like toxicity in work setting and sexism, respectively. Or they could be done implicitly via their use of hidden discourses in The Devil Wears Prada (2006) with Miranda and Andy representing two polarizing notions.
The Devil Wears Prada’s Miranda lives her life without a single care in the world; she's fearless, while Andy struggles to even find the balance between her professional and personal lives. They embody two key concepts: extremist and struggling conformists (and feminine powers!). If you think about it, it makes perfect sense for them to market their viewpoints as comedy: they can easily get away with the criticism, their messages get out there in the eyes of the public, they might as well consider their job done with ease, right? Zero damage done..
If the goal of superhero movies are to instill sympathy, empathy, love, and courage in their audiences, then the preconceived notions behind these hysterical and engaging internship movies are to ask for viewers to reflect on their own experiences as interns. The message is transparent, true, and somewhat cliche: break the cycle; be the change you want to see in the world.
That’s all. That’s your take home message.
(No, wait! There’s more!!)
Internship movies put immense responsibility on your two shoulders. They are handing on the baton to you. Generally speaking, they want you to transform the landscape of what they view today’s highly counterproductive work culture. Yes, you could choose to ignore their messages and get on with your day. That’s completely fine too! At the end of the day, the movies, the directors, and actors are merely messengers –just, you know, the extraordinary, highly creative, and quirky ones! It’s up to you to make measurable changes in the world.
You have seen them played out on your screens. You have seen the worst and the very best of them all. Yes, real life is not what is shown on screens. But why should that prevent you from achieving your dreams? If the movie's magic is real, they should motivate you to do more! You are entering an entirely new and exciting stage of your life! It would not be an exaggeration to say that the world is indeed in your hands..!
This is where you enter the scene. What will your story be?
AIP helps you write your very own internship stories. Find out more about AIP’s international internship opportunities here.