Remember the 2015 movie, The Intern, starring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway? De Niro played a 70-year old widower who applied to be an intern after he got bored with retirement. Anne Hathaway plays De Niro’s much younger boss, and, ultimately, the two end up learning quite a lot from each other. Once again, real life has imitated art!
Meet Paul Critchlow, the real-life intern! Critchlow spent the last 30 years working at Merrill Lynch, and recently retired at the age of 69. He spent the first few months of his retirement accompanying his author wife, Patricia McCormick, as she travelled around the world speaking to audiences about her work. Critchlow decided he’d take the time to finish writing his memoirs, but he didn’t think his life was all that interesting. Instead, he quickly grew bored of retirement and tried to find consulting work; when that didn’t pan out, he decided to pick up litter on the side of the road to pass the time.
Enter Sally Susman! Susman and Critchlow had met many years before at a political fundraiser. Susman is the head of communications at Pfizer and often invites Critchlow out to lunch to pick his brain, since he was also head of communications when he worked at Merrill Lynch.
After watching the movie, The Intern, Susman—along with her human resources chief, who had also seen the movie—loved the idea of having an internship for senior citizens and asked Critchlow if he would be interested in being Susman’s summer intern. Critchlow fell in love with the idea and agreed.
According to Fast Company, Susman and Critchlow “insisted that publicity was never the central reason for the internship experiment, but, they said, it smelled like a good story.” Shortly before Critchlow’s internship began, they invited a reporter from Fast Company to shadow him through the summer. The reporter’s story can be viewed here.
As for Critchlow’s experience on being an intern, he says the internship invigorated him, and he now “has a new confidence that his life is worth writing about.”