By TAMARA JAYNE
When I first saw the trailer of this movie, I thought it would just naturally be another The Devil Wears Prada, seeing as the same actress, Anne Hathaway, is also in The Intern.
The curious interaction between a 70-year-old retiree working as an intern in the fast-paced world of online retail, Ben Whittaker (played by Robert De Niro), and the hardworking founder of About the Fit, Jules Ostin (played by Anne Hathaway), proved otherwise with the film’s ability to draw us in through Whittaker’s likeable character.
As an intern myself, I took away some lessons from this movie to prepare me for what lies ahead.
Dress your best
First impressions make a big difference. In the movie, Whittaker wears a suit to work every single morning in spite of his co-workers telling him that he does not need to dress up all the time.
The subtle message here is this: it is important to look your best whether or not it is in a casual or formal setting. Looking good makes you feel good and when you feel good, you will be more likely to better focus your mind as you work i.e. meeting clients or attending meetings.
Observe what needs to be done and do it without needing recognition
There was a table filled with junk at the office that keeps piling up and constantly bothers Ostin each time she walks past it.
It bothers her yet she is not able to find the time or person to clear the mess. Whittaker notices this and arrives early one morning to clear the entire desk without being asked.
Ostin finds out—and a huge smile of relief spreads across her face—and the whole company commends him for doing so.
As interns, we may feel the extra pressure or expectation to impress those above and around us in hopes that they may recognise our efforts.
But what we should do instead, is to focus on doing our job well, not for the glory or recognition, and the rest will take care of itself.
Two generations can learn from each other and work together
Initially, Ostin was hesitant about having a retiree as an intern. However, she honours her agreement to the community outreach programme for seniors and takes him in. She soon realises how much she could learn from his experiences and some of his old school ways.
On the other hand, Ostin starts a Facebook account for Whittaker and teaches him the modern ways of working in the industry.
As an intern, you may feel completely new to the working world and it is easy to lose yourself and what you may know.
As you learn to adapt to your new environment, don’t forget that you can contribute what you know as well.
You may be able to provide a daring and unique perspective on how the company is run, so don’t be afraid to share your fresh insights when necessary.
What is important and what is a priority can be very different
Ostin started a great company that is excelling at an extremely rapid pace, but in the meantime, her personal life is falling apart. Her husband is having an affair, she barely has time to spend with her daughter, and she works too many late nights in the office.
While away together on a work trip, Ostin even confides in Whittaker about her life and marriage and how she knew her husband was cheating on her. She felt her husband’s affair was her fault. Whittaker assures her that it was in no way her fault.
As an intern, life may feel out of balance as you transition from college or university to the working world. It’s not about getting good grades now, but excelling at work instead. Being able to distinguish what is a priority and urgent from what is important, will help you during hectic times.
You will be facing new challenges, now and for the rest of your working life, so be kind to yourself and use your time as an intern to learn and grow from mistakes made along the way.
Tamara was previously an assistant editor and writer with Leaderonomics. She loves thought-provoking conversations over cups of tea. If she is not writing, you might find her hiking up a mountain in search of a new waterfall to explore.