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Training in Pop Culture: From Rocky’s Steps to the Boardroom

Updated: Aug 30, 2023

People at the cinema

Examples of Training in Pop Culture

In the vast world of cinema, TV shows, and books, training sequences have become iconic. They encapsulate a protagonist’s journey from novice to expert, from underdog to champion. While most of us can't claim to have trained to the tune of "Eye of the Tiger" or in a secluded snowy forest, these scenes strike a chord because of the universal appeal of personal growth and the trials that come with it. However, the representation of training in pop culture isn’t always about action-packed montages. Let's take a dive into some familiar training narratives, with a spotlight on the world of apprenticeships.

The Classic Montage - "Rocky" Series:

While Rocky Balboa’s training wasn't an apprenticeship in the traditional sense, his journey embodies the essence of one. Under the guidance of his mentor Mickey, he undergoes rigorous physical and mental preparation. The steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art are a symbol of his ascent (quite literally). Similarly, apprenticeships are about endurance, overcoming obstacles, and reaching new professional heights with the guidance of a mentor.

The Wise Mentor - "Karate Kid":

Mr. Miyagi’s "Wax on, Wax off" is more than just a catchy phrase. It emphasises the foundational skills often learned in the early days of an apprenticeship. Before diving into complexities, one has to master the basics. The Karate Kid is a story of patience, perseverance, and the bond between a teacher and student, much like many apprenticeship tales.

The Boardroom Apprentice - "The Devil Wears Prada":

Andrea’s transformation from an uninformed fashion novice to a competent assistant under the stern gaze of Miranda Priestly mirrors a corporate apprenticeship. The intense, sometimes harsh, learning environment she endures is reflective of the steep learning curve many apprentices experience in their early days.

Magical Apprenticeships - "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" & "Harry Potter":

Magic or not, the fundamental of apprenticeship remains. A seasoned sorcerer (or wizard) takes an inexperienced individual under their wing, teaching them the tricks of the trade. The challenges faced by Harry at Hogwarts or Dave in modern-day Manhattan underline the importance of guidance, practice, and continuous learning.

The Culinary Apprentice - "Ratatouille":

Although it's an animated rat named Remy that's the central character, the story beautifully portrays the journey of Linguini, an inexperienced kitchen help transformed into a chef. The kitchen, in many ways, can be viewed as an apprenticeship hub where skills are passed down, tested, and refined daily.

The Modern Day Intern - "The Intern":

In a twist on the traditional apprentice narrative, Robert De Niro plays Ben, a 70-year-old widower who becomes a senior intern at an online fashion retailer. Although not an apprentice in the conventional sense, Ben's journey highlights the value of lifelong learning and the exchange of knowledge across generations. Jules, the company's CEO played by Anne Hathaway, initially doubts the need for an intern, especially one so much older. However, as the movie progresses, she realizes that learning and growth can come from the most unexpected places and people. "The Intern" showcases that apprenticeships are not limited by age and emphasises the importance of adaptability and openness in today’s ever-evolving workplace.

Pop culture often takes liberties with realism for the sake of entertainment, but the core message remains consistent: Training, whether it's in the boxing ring, the dojo, the magical realm, or the corporate world, is a journey of growth, challenges, and accomplishments. Apprenticeships, in particular, stand out as an age-old method of hands-on learning, bridging the gap between inexperience and expertise. They may not always come with a catchy soundtrack or dramatic visuals, but their impact in shaping careers and building experts is undeniable.

If you want to get started with your learning journey, we can support you in finding the apprenticeship perfect for you. Check out our apprenticeships by clicking the button below.

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