Last weekend I was prompted by Netflix’s algorithm to watch The Intern and The Internship movies. Both movies got the juices flowing in terms of what so many co-op students and former interns are thinking about now that they’re back in school. This week I’ll focus on The Internship, which stars Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson who play salesmen who are downsized out of jobs and become Google interns with hilarious outcomes. Next week I’ll write about The Intern and probably make a lot of “things would’ve gone differently if this was Ronin, am I right?!” jokes (because Robert De Niro is in both movies, but he only ambushes Sean Bean with a cup of coffee in one of them). Here are six lifelong learning tips from The Internship movie.

The process

I’ve outlined six categories that will weave together elements of the competencies that our team at The Potentiality uses to help you align personal and professional growth with building healthy communities at work, at school and in your neighbourhood. Each theme will explore how these competencies come together within different examples from each movie.

Community building

Nick (Wilson) and Billy (Vaughn) understand that being the life of the party can drive social connection within a professional team. From the start of their internship, they are naturally fun and hyper-inclusive. Even when they are outcast by their younger, smarter and more tech-savvy colleagues, they remain positive and open with their teammates as well as connect with folks beyond the internship program, such as “The Head of Search” (played by Josh Gad), and Dana (played by Rose Byrne. Both connections opens doors to a variety of learning and life experiences for Nick. People trust them because they have a way with people. In-person community building is a differentiator for Nick and Billy.

Respected Rebel-ness

Being a Respected Rebel means being a benevolent disruptor and innovator while honouring the chain of command.

Respect doesn’t come immediately for Nick and Billy. Rebelliousness, however, is part of who they are at Google because they’re older than everyone else. Billy starts off the internship by directly engaging with authority, Mr. Chetty (played by Asif Mandvi), about what food is acceptable (or not) to bring home. Nick immediately romantically/intellectually pursues one of Google’s managers, Dana, which probably violates a lot of HR policies. The guys also drop an awesome concept on their Millennial teammates, which is that sometimes “the most radical move is to be yourself”. Pretty great.

Problem solving

We’ve all sent texts or emails after consuming a few alcoholic beverages that we shouldn’t have sent. “Team Lyle” solves this problem with a simple app that, when activated, prompts the drunken sender to answer a skill-testing question before the message will be delivered. The team, of course, solves this problem through lived experience as they drunkenly watch the sunrise over the Golden Gate bridge after a night of epic partying. Fun fact: when I worked at UBC my students actually used a version of this app so they didn’t send me debauchery-summarizing-messages intended for a classmate with a very similar name to mine.


According to, um, Google, “Googliness” means having a mashup of passion and drive that’s hard to define but easy to spot. People with this trait think – and, crucially, act – like entrepreneurs.

Just by being themselves – two talented, street smart salesmen with track records of regret and failure and who are older than everyone else – Nick and Billy differentiate themselves from the crowd. Their victory in final internship challenge (where they secure the “potential” of a family pizza joint) represents their ability to bring out the best in their teammates as well as stakeholders in Google’s universe.

Learning agility

“Sometimes the long shots pay off”, Billy tells Mr. Chetty. Billy also uses “on the line” to describe “posting a photo online” on his proposed app, Exchangeagram. Suffice to say that the film’s protagonist know pretty much nothing about the technology that makes Google work. Their ability to learn everything from code to Quidditch through experience and late-night cram sessions reflects stunning – if not improbable – learning agility.

Contagious enthusiasm

Nick and Billy ooze charisma and positivity during their journey through the internship program. Even when they’re teased, sabotaged and punched in the stomach by a man who they believe to be Professor Charles Xavier, they just smile and grit their way through the setback.Their genuine and inclusive enthusiasm for the experience engages not only their teammates, but other future-colleagues and customers, too. As Robin Sharma says, energy is more valuable than intelligence and, well, Nick and Billy might be proof that this is something you should consider for your development.

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