The Intern – When Work isn’t a Burden
Aspire Learning Space
Jun 22, 2020

“Musicians don’t retire, they stop when there’s no more music in them.”

Quentin Tarantino called it one of his favorite movies of 2015.

There were no stunts, no fight scenes and no snappy dialogue.
There was however a brilliant script that gave us, Ben Whittaker.

A retired 70-year old former manager and VP of sales, applies for the position of a senior intern at an online shopping up-and-coming company that’s become very successful.

This the 2015 Nancy Meyers film “The Intern”. It’s two hours, but by the time you’ve finished it, it’s definitely not one of those movies where you fall asleep while watching it.
When a movie does that with no visual effects or high-tech CGI, you know it’s got some good wholesome content.

The Intern goes a little further than that.

It provides a real outlook on how the world has changed from the perspective of a baby boomer (a person born following the Second World War). Normally we look at things have changed over the past twenty years, but not forty or fifty.

More importantly though, is what Ben brings to this company. He doesn’t know what a USB is. He doesn’t own a laptop, iPad or smartphone and insists on wearing suits even though the office dress code is casual. However, no one brings more charm, wisdom and support to the employees than him.

Rest assured, there won’t be any spoilers in this article. Nevertheless, there are a few points to take away from this film to illustrate what we’re talking about. When you watch it for yourself, you might find something else as well that inspires you.

  1. Willingness to learn
  2. Knowledge of flaws
  3. Knowledge of strengths
  4. Difference between overeager to please, and committed to help
  5. Going beyond what is required
  6. Understanding the vision of the pioneer

These are some of the highlights that one clearly takes away as lessons from this film. Some might be obvious and we will leave those for you to reflect on in more depth when you see the film yourself.

What we will talk about are the last three points.

4. When newly employed, it’s obvious to want to warrant approval particularly from your superiors. Naturally this creates an added stress and also in some cases the undesired trait of trying too hard to cozy up to the boss. What can be difficult to separate is how not to overstep your boundaries. How to work hard to help and be efficient without making those around you feel like you’re stepping on their toes or making your boss uncomfortable.

5. Being a workaholic is not something desirable. But no one accomplished big feats or reached their full potential without putting in a little more work than what is standard or in a different way. In one scene in the film, even though he’s just an intern, Ben refuses to leave the office unless his boss does. He’s not required to do so, but he does this in order to ensure he’s being as helpful as he can be. It also means helping others on their tasks even when it doesn’t personally benefit you in any material way.

6. Managers don’t want nine-to-five employees who punch in and punch out. They want people who are just as enthusiastic about their vision as they are. When you go into work with a passion towards the same vision your employer has, it makes all the difference in the world. Forget the positive financial return of having many driven and motivated workers in the office, the ambiance is lifted. It’s no longer about slaving away the day in a monotonous fashion, but instead pushing yourself further and further and not feeling the time pass by.

There are so many lessons to take away from this film. We’ve outlined some obvious and maybe not so obvious ones for you to give you a little taste. In reality, the workplace would be a much healthier and more productive atmosphere if there were more Ben Whittakers in the world.

There’s clearly a difference when working without the fear of being fired or underperforming or worrying about the financial aspect. Then again, shouldn’t that always be the case? Business owners and managers should take note of what can happen if you take away the stress and burden of the corporate world.

What happens when you share your vision with those around you, and find them just as eager to achieve it as you are? Probably something worth finding out.

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