Think of Robert De Niro and what comes to mind? Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull? Or Vito Corleone in The Godfather?

So you wouldn’t necessarily equate the Academy Award-winning actor with playing a “senior intern” but that’s just what he does in the breakout movie, “The Intern.” De Niro plays Ben, a 70-year-old widower living in Brooklyn, NY. He’s retired, but misses work and wants to add some meaning and structure to his days. He applies for a position as a senior intern at a clothing dealer and is up for the challenge.

With his strong skills and experience, Ben excels in his job interviews and is assigned to work for Jules, (Anne Hathaway), the company’s founder. He quickly befriends some of the other interns and the employees of the company. When he starts working with Jules, the unlikely pair develop a strong bond and Ben eventually helps her to make pivotal decisions about not only the direction of the company, but her life as well.

It’s interesting to see Hollywood’s take on work flexibility. And the fact that two A-list celebrities are in the lead roles shows not only that the issue of flexible work has crossed over onto the silver screen, but just how important flexible work is—and how it is here to stay. It’s also encouraging to older workers and retirees to see a legend like Robert De Niro play a senior intern. It shows that anyone, of any age, can work successfully as an intern, and that there is no shame in taking an entry-level position in a company if you want to continue working, stay active, spruce up your skills, or learn something new as a means to a career change.

So if you’re an older worker inspired by “The Intern”, here’s what you need to know if you want to try on an internship for size.

Figure out the flex.

If you’re an older worker, you’ve already done the 9-5 day job—probably for decades. Now it’s your time to set your own schedule. Consider what you really want out of your internship. Do you want full-time or part-time hours? Do you want to work remotely, or do you want to go into an office, but only a few days a week so you can spend some quality time with your grandkids? Luckily, there are so many options when it comes to flexible work, from full-time telecommuting, to part-time positions, to compressed workweeks, job shares, and freelance gigs. So figure out how to blend work into your personal life—and not the other way around—and look for a position that enhances your life.

Do what you love.

You’ve probably held positions in the past that were solely for the paycheck. But there is no better time to do what you love than right now. Even if you worked as an accountant for the majority of your career, for example, it doesn’t mean that you still have to stay on that same career trajectory, particularly if you didn’t necessarily love your job. Think outside of the box and look for work that feeds your soul and truly makes you happy.

Don’t sell yourself short.

Some older workers mistakenly believe that because of their age they are not as valuable as younger workers. That couldn’t be further from the truth. As an older worker, you bring a massive amount of experience, knowledge, and savvy to your position. Showcase what you know during your job interview and how you can potentially perform in the position. You never know; although you might be applying for an entry-level position, you might be bumped up to a higher-laying position based on everything that you bring to the table.

It’s truly an exciting time in the world of flexible work. So if you’re an older worker or a retiree who wants to continue working, become inspired by “The Intern” and revamp your resume and cover letter as you begin searching for an internship or a new gig. A flexible job—and fun new experiences—await you.

photo credit: istockphoto.com