internship lessons

Looking Back at My 4 Internships: What Did I Learn?

Posted Posted in career tips

Internship Lessons header

When I started my first internship, I was 21. Today, I am 5 years older, and hopefully a little bit wiser.

Which helps me to reflect upon the 4 internships that I undertook during my university days.

Were 4 internships too many? Were they really useful?

 

We’ll come to that in a bit. But first, back to 21-year-old me:

 

 

I recall that during my first year of university, out of the confines of Junior College, I was truly excited to explore new horizons.

It was then that I decided that I wanted to pursue internships in areas I was truly interested in, and not for any other external, superfluous reasons.

 

You see, things like peer pressure, and internships that look good on a resume were (and still are) very relevant during university.

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5 years on, I can proudly say that I have stayed true to this path, for better or for worse.

 

 

As I am embarking on a new phase of my career, I thought that it would be a good time to also look back and reflect on my experiences in 4 vastly different internships.

Here are some of my reflections: From 4 internships, that took almost a total of 2 years of my time – condensed into a single post:

 

Internship 1: Events Management at Adrenalin Group

Internship 1

This was my very first internship! Adrenalin Group is a social enterprise that primarily does event management of various types and has been in business for over 10 years now.

 

During my first year in university, I remember being very interested in social enterprises, fascinated by the prospects of using business to do good.

When I came across a talk with founders of social enterprises, I immediately signed up. It was after that talk that I managed to have a quick chat with the founder and CEO of Adrenalin Group.

There, I excitedly expressed my intention to do an internship with the company. He gave me a name card, I shot an email, went for an interview and I eventually secured the internship!

 

As my very first internship, my time at Adrenalin was very fruitful. In my day-to-day responsibilities, I was involved in liaison with many different stakeholders, planning of events and their execution.

Beyond these experiences, my main takeaway from the internship was the soft skills gained in this first ‘proper’ work setting. (No, I’m not counting part time flyer distribution and waitering here.)

 

Above all, one skill stands out to me even till this day: Professionalism.

To me, I learnt that professionalism comes from concepts such as consistency and attitude. The internship taught me this key lesson: Every piece of work needs to be consistently done well, to the absolute best of our abilities.

The work I delivered is not just representative of myself, but the business and the people involved as well.

There I learned the importance of displaying professionalism, taking pride in the work we put in, and delivering the best results we could.

 

 

Internship 2: Market Research at Agility Research and Strategy

Internship 2

My internship with Agility Research in the next year was borne from a rather sudden interest in marketing analytics. As a marketing specialization-hopeful in school, I was interested in how market research could be useful in influencing marketing strategies.

 

However, my initial applications were far from successful: I did not receive any replies for most of the agencies I applied to, and was rejected by the few that were kind enough to send a rejection email.

 

I decided to take matters into my own hands.

 

I cold-emailed and called a number of market research agencies, eventually received a response from Agility Research, went down for a physical interview, and the rest was history.

 

Working at Agility Research was quite a big contrast from my previous internship.

This internship was very much desk bound: With much more interaction with my desktop and Excel, and much less interaction with other human beings.

Admittedly, it took a while for me to adapt to this new working environment.

 

Despite this, perhaps drawing lessons from the previous internship, I tried to work hard to perform more effectively during the internship.

To do that, I actively tried to learn Excel shortcuts and advanced tools as much as I could on my own. I was also actively learning market research strategies and concepts so that I could deliver on projects successfully.

 

From this internship, my biggest takeaways were some key hard skills – the use of tools such as Excel and SPSS to perform basic data analysis, as well as drawing insights and recommendations from them.

 

 

Internship 3: Digital Marketing at Freeboh Technologies

 

After the previous 2 internships, I realized that while I had some internship experience, they were less relevant to my course of study and passion: Marketing.

I was going onto year 3 in university and wanted to learn and experience marketing in a more direct and practical manner.

It was then that I chanced upon Freeboh’s job opening for a marketing intern.

 

Truth be told, I wasn’t too familiar with the company at this point. I wanted to know the Freeboh team personally.

To do that, I first worked part-time for Freeboh, distributing flyers and getting the public to download the Freeboh app.

After this part-time stint, I then went to approach the marketing team that was responsible for the event. I shared my interest in an internship, went through an interview, and successfully got the internship!

 

It was another internship that had a huge impact on my career, as it was at Freeboh where I truly began to first learn various areas of digital marketing.

 

For instance, I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to write a number of articles, help manage social media accounts and the email system during my internship. These proved to be very useful in subsequent parts of my career.

My supervisor and colleagues were also helpful in sharing knowledge about business and marketing. Working in this startup environment and acquiring new skills definitely also paved the way for DGG Resume today!

 

 

Internship 4: Landside Concessions Internship at Changi Airport Group

 

Changi Airport has been one of my favourite places in Singapore for a long time. I have always loved how it served as a hub to a mixed bag of emotions and memories, of separation and reunion.

 

When I applied for a six-month internship, and received a reply for an interview, I was thrilled at the opportunity! I have applied for programs previously with the company but received no replies, so even an interview was a huge step forward for me.

I prepared for the interview very rigorously, going down to Changi Airport to familiarize myself, reading their annual report, and rehearsing my answers for common interview questions.

After 2 rounds of interviews, I was accepted. I was beyond thrilled! I was happy to take a leave of absence from my university studies to pursue this opportunity in a company of my dreams.

 

During this internship, I was given opportunities to work on different events and projects. As Changi Airport Group was a much larger company than my past experiences, there was definitely a difference in work cultures:

For instance, there were a large number of stakeholders to interact with for each project, and work was done meticulously and carefully at every step of the process.

Understandably so, as a large company naturally has more systems in place to ensure top quality work being delivered at the end of the day.

 

My biggest takeaways from this internship were learning more about the complexities and problems an airport faces, and being exposed to programs and projects at a larger scale than I have ever previously been involved.

Not to mention, colleagues were also very welcoming and friendly throughout the internship, which makes the entire internship enjoyable. This internship experience in the airport remains a surreal experience to me.

 

 

Lessons?

 

So there you have it, a quick summary of all 4 of my internships during my university life!

 

Today, it has become cliché to think that internships are important for securing a good career in future.

While there is definitely some of truth in this, I would also highly recommend exploring internships in areas that you are truly passionate about.

Not just for the resume, or for the supposed ‘good future’.

 

At worst, you can better understand yourself and areas that might not be suited for you in your future career.

At best, you could find a job that truly aligns with your passion and career aspirations.

 

University life is probably the most forgiving and accommodating period to try and taste these different roles and industries, so make the best of it!

 

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4 Personal Takeaways From My First Internship

Posted Posted in Uncategorized

 

Internships.

To some, they might be a necessary rite of passage to fill up their resumes for better job prospects.

To others, they are a good way to gain some valuable working experience in their ideal industries.

 

But not all internships are made equal.

It can range from being dreadful (see: photocopying documents, making coffee), to meaningful (see: leading projects, learning skills), and somewhere in between.

This can also be illustrated by the Internship Experience Spectrum:

 

the internship experience spectrum

 

Today, I will be providing glimpses of my first internship experience.

While doing so, I will share some of my personal takeaways from it. Hope this inspires some good old memories of your first internship as well!

 

Some background information: I did my first internship when I was about 22 years old, in a small events management firm. My main responsibilities were to assist with event planning and execution.

 

1. Importance of Training and Development

 

When I first joined the company, I expected to immediately start getting down to work and learning on the job.

 

Instead, we had the whole of our first week dedicated to learning events-related skills and information, such as the process of planning and executing an event, the people and logistics needed etc.

We were also given novel quizzes to complete.  We had to find the answers by consulting with different staff members from various teams of the company.

 

This training equipped us with relevant and necessary knowledge needed to better perform in our internships.

 

This also helped us to better understand the company and the industry, and more importantly, helped us break the ice with our fellow colleagues as well.

 

As a first-time intern, this emphasis on training and development was much needed.  I also appreciated being given opportunities to learn from the start, and not being thrown into the fire right away.

 

 

2. Strong Team and Organisational Culture

 

On my first day of work, I dressed in my best office working attire, trying to leave a good impression on my colleagues.

Little did I expect my outfit to make me feel out of place.

 

good impression

 

Everyone in the office dressed casually: some in T-shirts and jeans, while others had their outfits matching their own personal sense of style.

This was perhaps a reflection of the company culture.

 

The company had a very casual and easy-going kind of culture. Many of us interns sought to learn and grow, while the colleagues were very willing to impart their knowledge.

There was little sense of hierarchy, with everyone sitting around each other in one big office space.

 

I found that this was absolutely essential, especially in a company doing events management. Colleagues often had to work together to ensure smooth running of events.

 

A strong team culture can only help to make things easier for everyone.

 

 

3. Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

 

Throughout the internship, I was getting my hands dirty and was involved knee-deep in many of the events we organised.

 

Some of the most memorable ones include:

  • Leading team-building activities to participants at least 10 years older than me
  • Climbing on tall ladders to tie banners to tentages
  • Sleeping over at an event site to safeguard the event logistics

 

These were things that I would have never even dreamt of doing before this internship.

 

Aside from the above, the internship also granted me with great autonomy in the planning of many events.

I was also involved in pitching ideas, giving briefings, as well as planning and executing critical processes for different event.

 

These additional responsibilities, big and small, definitely helped me step out of my comfort zone and made me more confident in my own abilities.

 

 

4. Giving Your All In Everything You Do

 

One of the biggest revelations from my first internship was this:

 

revelation

 

In school, what’s the worst that could happen when you screw up a class?

You would do badly and maybe fail the test, but life goes on, no big deal. You know that the difference between a pass and a fail is maybe some scolding and nagging from your parents, and perhaps just some extra classes.

 

But in my first internship, what’s the worst that could happen if you screw up an event?

Consider this: Tens of thousands of the clients’ money is at stake. The participation of the many different stakeholders at the event is at stake. The company’s hard-earned brand image and reputation is at stake.

 

So, REALLY BAD things could happen.

It was truly Do or Die.

 

The stakes were high. I truly had to give it my all and make the events successful, no matter what.

Be it running errands late at night, working overtime or long hours, these were all necessary to ensure that all events ran smoothly and successfully.

 

Giving my 100% was no longer an option, but a necessity.

 

This attitude I learned also had a positive impact on me in my other endeavors after the internship.

 

 

As you might have realized, the lessons I’ve gained in my first internship were in the most intangible form: organizational culture, self-development and more.

 

Yet these intangible lessons learnt tend to also turn out to be the most valuable lessons in life.

 

The internship equipped me with valuable experiences, to become a better leader and a stronger person.

 

Hopefully this blogpost has inspired you to reflect on your past internship(s) and work experience(s) as well.

You too can discover your own learning points and takeaways!

 

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