5 important lessons every startup needs from The Intern (2015)

Patricia Hului

First of all, not everybody is a fan of Nancy Meyer’s movie The Intern (2015).

The Guardian described it as “The bulk of The Intern is a morass of wackiness, a chain of sequences shot in a flat and predictable manner that range from tedious to idiotic,” while New Yorker said it was a very strange workplace fantasy.

Putting aside the critical reviews, there is plenty of good career advice to ponder over from the movie.

Starring Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway and Rene Russo, the storyline follows a 70-year-old widower who becomes a senior intern at an online fashion website.

If you are running a startup company, here are some good lessons to learn from The Intern (2015):

1.Have self-initiative

In the movie, De Niro plays widower and retiree named Ben Whittaker who interns with About The Fit, an e-commerce fashion startup founded by Jules Ostin played by Hathaway.

There is a table covered with junk at the office that keeps on piling up. It is a constant bother for Ostin as she cannot find the time or a person to clear the table.

Noticing this, Whittaker takes his own initiative to clear the table, much to the relief of Ostin.

Instead of waiting for instructions, if you see there is a problem that needs to be solved, just solve it. Do not wait for your superior to give an order.

Sometimes you might not get recognition for the things you do on your own initiative and that is okay. As author Paulo Coelho once said, “The world is changed by your example not by your opinion.”

Just set a good example in your working environment; you might see the small changes that come along with it.

2.Learn from other generations

There is a Chinese proverb that goes “huo dao lao, xue dao lao(活到老学到老)”. It can be roughly translated to “one is never too old to learn”.

In the movie, Whittaker is open to learning something new, including having a Facebook account.

In the meantime, Ostin listens to Whittaker’s wisdom he gained from years of experience in business and marriage.

3.Celebrate little things

Whenever Ostin’s company achieveS a new goal, they would ring a bell in the office.

There is no success too small to be celebrated.

This work culture can keep a constant positive outlook in the company.

Imagine having a bad day in the office and suddenly the bell rings.

It can give the much needed push for everyone by celebrating every achievement no matter how small it is.

4.Working environment is very important

The working environment in The Intern might be too good to be true in reality.

For example, Hathaway’s character Ostin is always visible.

She has no office and sits in an open space with her employees.

When she is not happy with how the merchandise should be boxed and packaged, Ostin shows up at the warehouse showing her employees the right way.

Instead of sending a text or a memo or make a phone call, Ostin shows up in person.

5.Never lose your vision

It is easy to lose your aims or goals especially when you get caught up with the moment when working.

Whether you are working for someone else or on your own startup, never ever lose your ambition.

Keep working on your goals despite what other people are saying.

In the movie, Ostin is under pressure to give up her position as a CEO to someone outside of the company because her investors think that she is unable to cope with the work.

While others think that it is a good idea, she listens to her own instinct and sticks to her vision of the company.

Ostin started a company from her kitchen and in 18 months her employees grew from 25 to 220.

Nobody knows the company better than she does and for startup founders out there, nobody knows your company like you do.