Before entering the workforce, most students get internships in Singapore to experience a prelude to working life. Internships also help to provide some padding to your resume. After all, it would be pretty lame if all you have to show for your job interview next time are your CCA or Hall achievements. An internship stint at a company in the industry of your choice will teach you many lessons and provide you with much-needed experience outside the classroom. However, many approach a singapore internship with the wrong mindset or attitude. The following pointers will show you how to make the best out of your internship in Singapore.
1. Forget about the money
The first thing you need to keep in mind when starting out on your internship is to forget about the money. Seriously, forget about it. The point of an internship is to get experience in your chosen industry. You are probably causing more trouble than help at work as everyone has to babysit and train you up before you become a fully-functional contributor to the team. Many internships are unpaid and most pay you peanuts. Don’t be over calculative about the salary you are getting as …. there really isn’t much to calculate in the first place!
2. Do your job with pride
As an intern, you are the lowest life-form on the corporate food chain. Nobody cares about your welfare. Nobody cares about you being a president for your Hall. Nobody cares if you got top in class for your subject. You will be tasked to do so much mind-numbing, monkey work that you start questioning your decision to study the degree / diploma of your choice. Keep the faith! Surviving an internship is a test of your ego to see how much shit work or ‘sai gang’ you can take. To rise to the top, you must start from the bottom. You will be tasked with the high responsibility of photocopying, changing toner ink, making coffee, filing or some other administrative work. Whatever it is, know that the manager assigning you these jobs probably started at the bottom rung as well. So make that coffee with pride!
3. Keep Learning and Asking Questions
The internship is the best opportunity for you to learn and ask questions non-stop. If you are worried about looking like an idiot, don’t be. You are already seen as one the moment you signed your holidays over to the company. When in doubt ask your boss and coworkers about the company. Ask and learn about its history. Ask and learn about its values. Ask and learn about all the different job functions. Ask and learn about your competitors. You must learn about your company or industry and understand it well like the back of the hand. This knowledge will serve you well when you return to the industry as a full-time staff later on. Afterall, since your internship income is negligible, make sure you get paid in KNOWLEDGE.
4. Make yourself valuable
During the course of your internship, while you are photocopying minutes to a meeting, you may suddenly wonder, “What the hell am I doing here?” You feel a great depreciation in your personal intrinsic value. A nagging voice in the back of your head is laughing at you for ‘investing’ so much time and money on your degree, only to end up as some office chimp. In that darkest moment, remind yourself that you are taking this internship not just to pad up your resume, but also, you here to gain insights to the industry in a hope that you become will a full-time employee here in the future. You need to change your mindset into one which constantly asks, “How can I be valuable to others around me?” Offer yourself up for service. Help out wherever you can. Stay back overtime; (a little OT won’t kill.) Clear your mind from negative thinking, swallow your pride, check your ego at the door, and constantly challenge yourself to make the lives of the people at your workplace better.
5. Take Initiative
Interns sometimes spend most of the time sitting around, twiddling their thumbs and waiting for instructions. Do not spend your free time surfing the net or playing Sim City on your phone! Once your tasks are done, get out of your seat and go around looking for ways you can help people. I know you are used to being told what to do, especially for guys who just came out from the army. However, in the working world, often times you have to be making decisions on your own and finding ways to improve the business without any formal direction given by your superiors. Surprise your managers and co-workers by taking the initiative to volunteer to undertake tasks that every one shuns from, or are too busy to perform. By taking initiative, you will not only increase your intrinsic value (see previous point), but also stand out from amongst all the other interns who are blankly staring at their computer screens, trying to look busy. (Yes we all know when you are pretending to work!)
6. Network the hell out of your industry
Highlight this point and imprint it into your brain. Network, network, network. Use these precious internship stint to network the hell out of your industry. Get to know your bosses. Have lunch with your co-workers. Chit-chat with the cleaning lady or security guard. Take an interest in their lives and hear their personal stories. Integrate into your company’s culture. Even if you are an introvert who finds networking tiring, you still better get out of your comfort ‘bubble’ and do it! No excuses! Why? Relationships are important at work. Every relationship formed gives you an opportunity to entrench your brand or increase your chances of returning to the company. Even if you don’t return to the company, the contacts you make might refer you to similar positions in other companies. All these contacts will also play a role in helping you out when you get stuck on a particular problem. Start making friends now and get to know someone new every day in your company.
7. Stay in touch after your Internship
Networking doesn’t just mean you go around collecting or exchanging name cards and never contacting the person again until you need help. That’s just called being a phony. Keep in touch with your colleagues after your internship stint! Follow or add your contacts on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. All of us have a limited number of active relationships we can manage at a single point in time. These networking sites give you the capacity to manage even more relationships in your life. Chat with your ex-colleagues occasionally, be in the know of changes within your ex-company or industry. Like their photos, wish them happy birthday and drop in some comments every now and then. Make sure people remember your name and not “the-guy-who-makes-good-coffee” or the “photocopying monkey”. All relationships, (yes even those in your workplace), need constant nurturing.
Internship Singapore is a passing phase for all Singaporean students who are en route to graduation, followed by the subsequent plunge into the working world of adults. It may be tough. It may be demoralising. And sometimes, you wonder what are you even doing in this industry. Don’t worry about it. All interns feel this way.
If it makes you feel better, whenever you see your manager’s chair, remind yourself that someday you will be in that chair, and there will be an intern making coffee for you.
It’s the circle of life,
It’s the wheel of fortune…
– Lion King Soundtrack
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