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Its never too late to ‘intern’​!

As I watched Robert De Niro spout insight after insight as an ‘intern’ to a stressed-out CEO (played by Anne Hathaway) on HBO recently, two thoughts struck me: one, do all young entrepreneurs go through the same state of mind? Two, it is astonishing what a readily deployable talent pool is available in the form of experienced older men and women!

The focus of this piece is on the vast pool of experienced men and women who have opted out of the employment system for various reasons. My point of view is that many of these would be willing to come back and share their experience with today’s professionals, given the right opportunity.

Why an old intern? Watch the movie clip!

“The Intern” explored this concept from a cinematic perspective and perhaps communicated a ‘rosy’ picture of the relationship, but the message is worth taking forward.

Today’s business world is filled with start-ups and small firms on the threshold of next phase in growth, managed by younger leaders who have plenty of ideas and vision but often struggle to realize them. One key aspect that they lack, and which has also been highlighted in study after study, is the absence of in-house guidance and experienced hands extending their decisions to actions.

Applying the ‘Intern’ concept, why can’t older professionals outside the circuit be hired to play key roles in young and upcoming businesses? Their business acumen and experience with dealing with people can come in handy to the management, further cemented by a real-time physical presence in the office. Also, they can be more productive and loyal since their active career days are most likely behind them, and at this juncture its more about what value-add they can provide.

Of course, no concept comes with only positives.  What can be potential spokes in the wheel here?

  • What kind of roles will they fit into? Today’s business demands agility, adaptability and disruptive thinking. Will the senior folks deliver here? Also, they may lag in being upto date in terms of technology and market practices. However, their overall wisdom and experience can be relevant and compensating.
  • Generation gap can be a significant challenge. But it needs both sides to adapt and accept for it to work.
  • The hiring process needs to be reviewed and proofed sufficiently to minimize fallouts of a wrong hire. The existing approach may not work as such. Hiring through references could help

There have been initiatives in the past to match senior expertise off-the-market, with business needs. However, in today’s context of start-ups and new-gen businesses, a fresh push may result in better outcomes that will serve as a channel to connect both sides.

Do share your views, especially if you have encountered such situations!

(Originally published in LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/its-never-too-late-intern-sukanya-badri?trk=mp-author-card)