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I doubt my intern even owns a tie.

I doubt my intern even owns a tie.

Have you ever realised something ludicrously simple and obvious that has a profound effect on your life, work or relationships and, while you happily adopt it, you can't help wondering why you didn't think of it years before?

I don't want to bore long-time readers of this blog, but this idea was pretty much the basis of my 2006 book, No Tattoos Before You're Thirty ... What I'll Tell My Children.

"Ever been given a particularly resonant piece of advice, sat back and thought, 'Happy days, why didn't somebody tell me that 10 years ago?'

"Like, you have to remove the poo tube from prawns, learn a second language before your brain starts to shrink from alcohol and caffeine, and never play poker with a guy who has the same name as an American city ... " and so on and so forth, the introduction to the book says.

Recently, however, I had an epiphany when it came to this blog and the column I write for The Sunday Age in Melbourne and The Sun-Herald in Sydney.

One of the hardest things I find about writing a column/blog over a number of years is staying fresh and relevant, which I have done with varying degrees of success.

My worst nightmare is becoming one of those stodgy old dipshits who seem to plague AM radio, tut-tutting about every person who is younger than they are.

The problem is how to keep in touch with the "younger generation".

I used to just shag them, but even that's getting a bit creepy as I head into my 40s.

So what to do?

The answer came in the form of an email from a university student named Marlo Begsley, who asked me if he could be my intern.

I've had these requests many times before and always replied: "Ahh, there's nothing to do, unless you wanna watch me writing blog posts in my underpants at home," which really is creepy.

Anyway, I still met up with Marlo for a coffee, and he seemed like a good enough young man.

However, it was about five minutes into our conversation when I realised ... "Wait a minute! I got a 19-year-old reservoir of relevance sitting right in front of me!"

So now Marlo is my intern, which basically means he's tasked with coming up with blog ideas about his age group, telling me how the world looks through his and his friends' eyes and writing the occasional blog post that I can put live when I'm hung-over and can't move.

He's already given me some cracker ideas but, more than that, just listening to him talk about his life gives me a new perspective on a lot of well-worn topics, so bear with me while I jump back into some oldies but goodies with a slightly different skew.

In fact, one of his ideas was to write about interns. He said to me: "I was talking to my uncle and he said he'd recently had his first intern and how weird a feeling it was to realise what you are doing is appreciated by people."

It is a weird feeling, but very rewarding as well, especially when I get emails from you dear readers and from people like Marlo.

Hopefully, he will learn a little from me, if not about journalism, at least about the craft of writing a topical column/blog and how to sniff a good idea out of a pile of shitty ones.

I also want him to switch on to the patterns of behaviour, thought and speech we all display because they're fun to observe and the raw material of any writer.

Anyway, it also got me thinking about how y'all have probably had a similar type of epiphany in your job or at home, and I wonder what they were, and if they helped you much.

Care to share?

Sam de Brito's latest novel Hello Darkness is in bookstores now. You can follow him on Twitter here.

73 comments so far

  • So you have become a mentor then Sam? Good for you.

    Mentors should seek to learn from the people they are mentoring as much as the learning occurs the other way around. Thepurpose of a mentor shifts and changes throughout time and as the skills, knowledge and perspective of the person being mentored shifts and develops.

    Unfortunately sometimes a mentor sees themselves as somone whis is a teacher of knowledge rather than have it as a two way communication.

    Then again I also see that peopl are stupid, mean and selfish so what would I know.

    Date and time
    October 20, 2011, 2:43PM
    • I seem to have an epiphany every week. It usually happens at the gym when I'm belting away but the mind is ticking over. Sometimes it's about joining the dots on a particular issue, or crystallising something I've been mulling over for a while or something about work. They can be as mundane as ways to load the dishwasher to ultimate life goals and ways to go about them. They keep on coming.

      Will be interesting to see what this young fella says.

      Date and time
      October 20, 2011, 4:39PM
      • Sam, you know what would be better than an intern...? Multiple interns.

        Marlo does not represent ALL 19 year-olds. I think it's fabulous that he's your intern, but perhaps you should bounce his ideas off a few other youngsters - male and female. That will DEFINITELY keep your blog fresh and youthful.

        Keep up the good work.

        Lady Contributor
        Date and time
        October 20, 2011, 4:48PM
        • I think that's a great idea (er, having the intern). It would be great to see you revisit and revamp some of your old topics from your current perspective.

          And epiphanies? Well sometimes I think I've understood some deep principle of the universe but then something happens and then I think 'Ooooh NOW I get it'. I figure that will keep on happening for a while.

          Date and time
          October 20, 2011, 6:34PM
          • I had an epiphany regarding the way I interact with others. It probably sounds ridiculous to people who are psychologically well-adjusted, but when you're a Balkan lunatic who doesn't know when to shut the f up, it is a big one.

            I don't need to argue with people; I don't need to get dragged into shouting matches ever; I need to watch how I converse to ensure I'm never, ever speaking down on someone; I need to stop making broad, baseless assertions; I can never make justifications for subpar behaviour; I should try and put myself in someone elses' shoes in circumstances where appropriate; I should identify and focus on the positive in others, and in situations, instead of trying to highlight the negative.

            So my epiphany was based on "trying to stop carrying on like a prat".

            hired goon
            heartbreak city
            Date and time
            October 20, 2011, 7:23PM
            • Congratulations. you are now a manager.

              But at least you are a manager that knows the job that your staff are doing.

              Have you considered going mad with power ?

              Citizen Rat
              Date and time
              October 20, 2011, 7:55PM
              • The government is funding volunteers with self defense classes, excellent idea to protect Global warriors, probably a better idea than getting a perm (just in case)

                Kung Fu panda
                Date and time
                October 20, 2011, 7:56PM
                • I think its great to not retreat into your own age group. I am surrounded by people of all ages every day. Quite often at my house there are 4 generations and hearing all the different opinions is really interesting.

                  I had an epiphany once after I yelled at my daughter for doing something. I felt really bad about it because she wasn't really doing anything just annoying me.

                  then it occurred to me that if a child is doing something actually wrong then they need to be pulled up on it. However if a child is just doing something that pisses me off or annoys me then that's my problem.

                  With 4 kids and 12 grand kids I could be wasting an awful lot of time if I picked on them for every little thing they do that's irritating.

                  In my family I am always seen as the calm one and that's why because I pick my battles.

                  Date and time
                  October 20, 2011, 9:00PM
                  • Had a few over the years.
                    One epiphany was slogging away martial arts training for many years. The stress leading up to grading for a black belt had made training twice as hard but half as efficient.
                    Once the test was passed & the stress gone it all clicked into place. How much the mind can power the body & focus energy to a point through the body. Part of the process of going through it before you understand it.
                    Try to pass that on when teaching the young & the new now by demonstrating how a weedy late 40's guy can subdue with one move any recalcitrant at training, no matter their age, size & ability.

                    Fortunate enough to teach part time at uni as well so am surrounded by 20 year olds to keep the passion for my career choice burning.
                    I still only offer encouragement & guidance to them all.

                    close to Haigh's
                    Date and time
                    October 20, 2011, 10:30PM
                    • PS, good luck with your 'mentoring.'
                      Had plenty of offers from my uni students wanting to work for me both paid or just for some experience.
                      Yet to take any up on the offer though. Hate to kill their illusion.

                      close to Haigh's
                      Date and time
                      October 20, 2011, 11:40PM

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