Teamwork Lessons

In the movie The Internship, a team of misfits led by Vince Vaughn (Billy McMahon) and Owen Wilson (Nick Campbell) learn to work together in order to beat out several smarter, more tech-savvy teams to win a coveted position at Google.  While each member of the team learns important things about themselves as individuals over the course of the movie, I found the lessons learned about how to function effectively as a team particularly interesting.

Teamwork Lessons

Shared Vision

According to Wikipedia, a team is “a group of people or other animals linked in a common purpose”.  So, one of the necessary components of a successful team is a common purpose.  Without this shared vision, the team will never be more than a group of individuals.
In the film, the team led by Billy and Nick compete in training challenges against the other teams.  The shared purpose… winning, of course.

Sense of Common Ownership of the Task

Sometimes it’s easy to hide when working as part of a team.  In truly successful teams, however, each and every team member feels a sense of personal responsibility to meet the goal.  Many hands may make light work, but every hand must work to get the job done.


In the movie, Billy and Nick find it hard to relate to their Gen-X teammates’ competitiveness during the internship training challenges. Realizing that their technical skills are seriously lacking, they open themselves up to learning from their tech-savvy counterparts. The takeaway – take the time to get to know your teammates and learn from them. You don’t know everything.

Willingness to be Yourself

It’s difficult for your team to trust you if you aren’t willing to be vulnerable enough to show them who you really are.  Billy and Nick didn’t get the internship with Google because they put on a dog-and-pony show in the interview.  Quite the opposite.

Their unorthodox answers to the interviewers’ questions actually got them the internship – despite their lack of relevant experience.  It pays to be yourself!

Valuing the Differences

Most of us gravitate toward people who are like us. There’s no doubt it’s more comfortable to be part of a group of people who think and act just like you do.  However, great teams realize that having individuals with complementary skills is better than groupthink.
Billy and Nick weren’t tech geeks.  Much of the time, they relied upon (and learned from) their teammates during the training challenges.  The penultimate challenge, however, required skills that only Billy and Nick came into the internship with – sales.
In a team composed of outliers, misfits and the unlikeliest to succeed, it was leadership and teamwork that won the day.
Struggling to build your own successful team?  Check out our tip sheet 5 Guiding Principles for Recruiting a Star-Quality Team.
Teamwork LessonsTeamwork Lessons

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