The Story of This 70-year-old Intern May Be The Next Hot Trend In Recruiting
By Victoria Ahl on LinkedIn
When you hear the word “intern,” you probably don’t think of a 70-year-old retiree. But that’s exactly who Sally Susman, an EVP at Pfizer, had in mind in when she brought in Merrill Lynch’s former head of communications Paul Critchlow, her personal friend, to join the summer internship at Corporate Affairs.
Inspired by The Intern, a 2015 film starring Robert De Niro, and empowered by Pfizer’s commitment to taking thoughtful risks, Susman was confident there was a lot to be gained by adding an older, more seasoned person to the 2016 Corporate Affairs internship program. It turns out she was right—and hiring managers and recruiters in other companies might want to take note.
How the internship worked at Pfizer
While at Pfizer, 70-year old Critchlow worked side-by-side with college students. He sat in an open-desk plan with three other interns; the quartet nicknamed themselves the Fantastic Four.
Critchlow taught his fellow interns about communications (his career field) and offered advice about work-life balance. They showed him social media techniques and debunked myths about Millennials. He mentored several interns, gave lunch and learns, and served as a sounding board for pitches. Pfizer drew from Paul’s expertise–at the same pay rate as the other interns: a fraction of the cost of his executive salary.
The advantages of an age-diverse workforce are obvious. Older employees make decisions based on experience. Younger employees employ academic learning. Blending the two provides cross-generational benefits. Read this from Sophia Spallas, a fellow intern and (later) Critchlow mentee:
“When I heard we would be sharing a desk with a senior intern, I honestly thought that this was going to be some super experienced older man who came into the office, put his head down, and focused only on his own work every day. I was so surprised that at lunch on Paul’s first day, he…took the time to get to know us as people, not just colleagues.
Paul clearly has an incredible resume…but it was his desire to get to know us on a personal level that made the experience [deeply] rewarding.
Paul taught me that failure can be a powerful growing experience, and if you handle it properly, you can channel your failures into something productive. This experience taught me to think differently about my career and how I view the importance of success [versus] fulfillment.”
Related Post: Avoid Ageism In Your Company