It’s late May and you might be thinking about getting a summer internship in Singapore (yes you should!), or you could already be 1-2 weeks into it. Internships can be quite confusing sometimes, and we completely get that.
So today, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to making the most out of your summer internship! We’ve asked 4 graduates from various backgrounds on their thoughts, how they snagged their summer internships and their advice for interns, no matter what type of company you’re in.
First of all, how do you choose your internship? There’s no singular approach but you can choose one that works for you. Joel Chia, who does Performance Marketing at Sephora, was very clear on what he wanted, and each of his internships fulfilled a specific purpose. He started with AIA while wanting to delve further into finance and applied for Unilever when he wanted to understand more about branding in bigger companies.
On the other hand, Germaine Tay, who is an SMB Account Manager at Facebook, said, “I always go with the flow when applying for internships and I keep my options open so that I do not limit myself to a specific role or industry.” She also advises to go for as many networking sessions and interviews as possible, and to ask for feedback after each round to get better and better.
Getting the most out of your summer internship in Singapore
It’s not about passively accepting tasks from your boss, our graduates say. In fact, if you want to really milk your internship, that should be the last thing on the list! Their top tips are summarized below:
1) Do difficult tasks ?
No pain, no gain. And that’s what rings true when it comes to work. All four unanimously agreed that you grow the most when you get out of your comfort zone. Teoh Zetong, who does CRM at Carousell, shared:
“I was given a 60GB file filled with contacts and was tasked to split the contacts by each state into a new file. That’s when I learnt MS Excel can’t go beyond 104,000 rows.
I basically did an insane amount of Googling to solve it. In the end, I burnt my weekend to split the database, but I’m glad I did it. I could probably do that under one hour now, but these experiences built up to what I’m capable of today.”
So yes, if you want to make the most out of it, don’t settle for the easy tasks!
2) Network, network and network ?
“Try to have lunch with your fellow colleagues regularly to get to know your them better. You will also get to hear your colleagues sharing about their work and life stories,” Keren Wang, who does Cross Border E-commerce at Shopee, said.
Building solid relationships with your colleagues can be the key to knowing the ins and outs of a company, and as Joel said, “Sometimes the key to that wi-fi password or hidden pantry stash could be someone whom you had initiated a conversation with over lunch or post-work drinks.”
3) Be thick-skinned ?
Now’s not the time to shy away, and definitely, do not be afraid to ask! Germaine recommends to seek for shadowing opportunities: “Be it in a large organization or start-up, there is no harm asking if you could shadow your colleagues for meetings to learn the bigger picture of what the organization is doing.”
Interestingly, Zetong was bold enough to ask his CEO (who was also the co-founder of Zynga) out for coffee. He questioned a decision he had made in the company that was against the majority vote and his CEO patiently explained to him his rationale.
4) Learn from your mistakes ?
Don’t be afraid to screw up during your summer internship in Singapore. In fact, it’s a great learning opportunity that you might only get away with while you’re an intern!
Joel said, “Make as many mistakes as possible, because you can uncover the various approaches that would not successfully achieve your objectives. However, do remember that failing without learning is a waste of time. So fail fast, but learn faster!”
The Million Dollar Question: Will your summer internship in Singapore help you in your future job?
Some like Joel and Zetong realized that they learnt useful skills that would later make their jobs easier at Sephora and Carousell, while Germaine said that her serendipitous internship journey opened doors to new industries:
“One day I applied for an internship at Twitter, a sales role for the Greater China Region. I applied for fun, and got interviewed in Mandarin! Surprisingly, I got an offer and it certainly opened many doors for me in the tech space.
I eventually accepted an Account Manager role at Facebook for the Greater China market as well. My experience at Twitter was a big stepping stone for me to brush up on my language and skills.”
On the other hand, internships can also help to validate your interests and preferences, so that you know for sure marketing is something you’re into, or you might realize you hate finance, for example. Keren shared that she realized that she enjoyed working at fast-paced and vibrant environments, which pushed her to apply for Shopee.
And, don’t do these things:
We told you this was a comprehensive guide, right? So here’s a list of what not to do as well!
1) Don’t think that you’re inferior – “You are hired because your hiring manager saw potential in you to offer diverse perspectives to the team. Do your best regardless of whether there is a chance of getting converted or not,” Germaine said. So leave your doubt at the door, and be confident – you’re there for a reason!
2) Don’t be passive – Joel said, “You should seek to challenge the norms and offer fresh perspectives as much as possible to make impressionable improvisations.” Also, it’s good to know how to prioritize: “Learn how to say no if the task does not value add to the project, or improve the efficiency of the way things are done,” Germaine said.
3) Don’t avoid your colleagues – “Be spontaneous about participating in after-work events, as that is the best time for people to unwind and an opportunity to get to know them on a more personal level,” Joel said. So go for that after-work karaoke session, it wouldn’t hurt!
What you might be getting wrong about internships
No internship is too small
Rumours about internships can spread, but it’s up to you to decide how you want to approach them!
Some may want to just gun for the big FMCG firms, but not everyone is cut out for that. “You could be a big fish in a small pond, or a small fish in a big pond; it could be both good and bad, depending on an individual’s expectation(s) of the internship,” Joel said. You could be better suited in a start-up if you prefer more flexibility, in fact.
Interns just do menial tasks
Interns don’t just do menial tasks like make coffee or photocopy documents, Zetong said. That stereotype is long gone. “And yes, you can also voice out the things you hope to learn in this internship with your manager!”
Keren also said, “One of the common myths is that interns have no power. Without a doubt, interns are usually new and inexperienced. Some people might think that interns are just cheap labour that are willing to do any tasks assigned. However, interns can create more value than one would have imagined.”
We certainly hope you found this guide useful and learnt a thing or two from these fresh grads, because they’ve been there and done that. Now go forth and conquer that summer internship in Singapore!