An Ex-Google Intern Finds 'The Internship' Surprisingly Accurate
For the next couple of days, the Hollywood marketing machine will inundate you with ads and reviews about the high-concept movie. AOL Jobs thought we'd offer you a different perspective on "The Internship." Is a job at Google really the new American dream, a place where even aging doofuses, with the right kind of pluck, can reinvent their careers? AOL Jobs watched the movie with real life ex-Google intern Mark Hariz to separate the truth from the spin.
First, the obvious: The whole premise that two middle-aged doofuses -- with no tech skills -- can get internships at what is consistently ranked as the "Best Place to Work" is absurd, Hariz said. "They're fully unqualified," he said, noting that "most of the interns were 20. But there were a couple who were older ... like engineering people in their mid-20s." But you might be surprised by what he did find to be accurate.
The conference bike: When Vaughn and Owen fist arrive on Google's Mountain View, Calif., campus, they encounter a mix of bicycles and backpacks, Segways and slides, along with a volleyball court and a group of employees who appear to be conducting a conference on a multi-person bike.
"It definitely reminded me of what the experience is like, and it does make you feel like you're back in college: the biking thing, the Segways -- less so. I did once have a conference on the conference bike."
" 'Don't bring food home' is true. I heard of people who got fired for taking a ridiculous amount -- basically stealing -- like taking a garbage bag, and filling it with Naked juices."
'Googliness'?: The head of the Google intern program, played by "Daily Show" correspondent Aasif Mandvi, reminds the giddy crowd that he'll also be scoring the teams for their mystical, magical quality of "Googliness."
"People did use the word 'Googliness.' It's about bringing together different skill sets, different perspectives, different ideas, where others may not see them, and helping people grow on a personal level that really embodies the 'Googliness.' That sounds ridiculous, but it ends up being really valuable for pretty much everyone who touches it."
Google co-founder Sergey Brin palling around with interns: At the end of the film, Brin, who has an estimated wealth of $20.3 billion, makes a quick cameo to congratulate Vaughn and Wilson.
"When I was there [in 2007], everyone who got a full-time offer, it was signed off by Larry [Page] and Serge. I don't know if that was a myth, but they reinforced it a lot. ... And once I was playing beach ball on main campus, and someone came over to join in. ... It was Serge Brin, in a jeans and T-shirt."
The interns in the movie do a bunch of bonding activities, like playing Quidditch, and getting really drunk at a strip club.
"There was lots of bonding stuff, like kayaking with my team in Monterey Bay. ... It goes hand-in-hand with the collaboration [principle]... and that you should really be able to enjoy the work you're doing, and at your own pace. Working hard, and producing a lot. But it's the quality of your work and the quality of your ideas that matters, as opposed to the semblance of professionalism that doesn't get stuff done or some false facetime." There were a few other things, though, that were largely false, he said.
Getting a job means going through mental 'Hunger Games': In the film, the interns spend the summer in teams, competing in a series of challenges; only the triumphant group is guaranteed full-time jobs.
"We didn't get into teams of interns. We got into departments, and integrated into their teams. And It wasn't competitive; it was really collaborative. If you performed very well, there was a reasonable expectation you'd get a job. It wasn't like a class graded on a curve. It wasn't like 'Survivor.'"
Getting assigned random tasks: The intern teams in the film have to complete various tasks, many of which are completely unrelated to each other, from customer support to coding to sales.
"You would never have this nebulous internship that isn't specific to some actual role, like, 'I program things,' or 'I'm a salesperson.' "
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Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.
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