Giving An Internship A Shot
The approach of Summer – a long, 3 months break – signalled the end of my fourth semester in university. Friends around me had all made their plans for the school break; some of them were taking up internships while others were packing up their passports and luggages to see the world. It was time for me to make a call and a pretty close fight ensued between an extended backpacking trip around Southeast Asia and an internship but the latter ultimately emerged victorious. The typical ‘kiasu’ Singaporean streak in me had once again flared up: I figured that an internship would most probably aid me more in securing a job upon graduation – just a short two years down the road.
Many painful nights were spent in front of the computer searching for possible internship opportunities till the day I stumbled upon Glints. Drawn in by the portal’s aesthetic appeal and later impressed by its playful job descriptions, my cursor couldn’t help but to hover on the ‘Join Glints Now!’ button. Glints felt different – cheeky, spirited and a little eccentric but is essentially fun. So what is Glints, is it just another job portal? I did what a university student does best: research. As it turns out, Glints is a startup working hard to bring career discovery and development to job seekers like me but that aside, what really struck me were the founders’ stories.
Placing their prestigious scholarships aside at top universities, the three founders (Qin En, Oswald and Ying Cong) had put their university education on hold to start up their own company – Glints. Thoroughly intrigued by the founders’ passion for helping inexperienced job seekers at this point, I finally applied for an internship position at the company.
A Call from Glints
Before I knew it, I found myself seated right across Qin En, the Co-Founder of Glints, for a chit-chat/interview session. Brutally honest about the hardships of a startup internship – from having to learn fast to zero special treatment for interns – he painted a harsh picture about working life in Glints for me. But something told me that I might just be up for it and I reassured him that I was deeply keen on the culture of the company. I was ready for anything that will come my way!
Hitting the Ground Running
Day 1 was intense. Day 2 was intense. Needless to say, so was Day 3 and many of the following days throughout my stint at Glints. In a startup like Glints, each and every person on the team need to pull their own weight and actively contribute. There is certainly no time to sit back and wait for instructions. You learn as you go and believe me, the pressure is on.
Together with the other 3 interns (Max, Dea, Senthil), we were each assigned specific domains which we will work on in the upcoming months. Our roles were distinct but also complementary and we had to work as a team. Each of us had irreplaceable roles and the founders were counting on us to perform. A misstep could be fatal for the startup and there was definitely no time for us to ‘acclimatise’ slowly. You learn new things as you go along and it never gets boring.
Auto-pilot with the Necessary Recalibration
I was kept really busy with team projects, meetings with partners, discussions and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to meet. It certainly wasn’t an internship with plenty of spare time. At a point, I asked myself what kept me motivated and driven. It was passion. I loved and believed in what I was doing, just like everyone else on the team. The flexible management style allowed me to evolve into my role and naturally, I enjoyed what I did and I did it well. For me, the management style allowed everyone on the team to punch above their weight and perform beyond expectations.
As an intern, I was groomed to achieve more each day. I worked closely with Qin En who always makes it a point to take time to coach the interns and never has he scrimped on his coaching despite the fact that his efforts will arguably go to waste with the interns’ limited ‘shelf-life’. He even made it a point to perform a weekly check-in with each of us to ensure we were doing well and suggested possible ways of improvement. His ability to take feedback and willingness to listen to everyone’s opinion also allow us to communicate with him openly. After all, how often do you get to trade blows with your boss at a meeting as an intern?
The culture of transparency also defined Glints as a workplace where you get genuine feedback, instead of sugar-coated comments that do little to help. While I enjoy high levels of autonomy in my work, I frequently receive relevant advice and feedback to improve myself. This has given me endless opportunities to improve and learn from the very best. That’s truly what an internship is all about, isn’t it?
A family I will continue to identify with
A summer internship it might have been but the team has truly became a family. We got each others’ backs and we enjoy each others’ company. The team retreat, karaoke sessions and daily meals together are just some of the things I will miss.
Let’s not forget, there are also Naked Friday sessions where the team gets together for fun sharings that will ease your stress and sum up the week nicely. To be honest, I never really saw my internship as just an internship, it became so much more and what I’ve learned from the team will continue to serve me well.
My internship was a roller-coaster ride. It was intimidating and intense with the massive responsibilities and expectations but as you begin to enjoy the thrill of it, it becomes an exhilarating journey – one which you will look back and hope to go on again.