Well, guess what? I’ve been doing internship for the past two months and everything’s had been really great except the intern’s weekly report which I haven’t submitted at all to my supervisor. That aside, what I’m gonna write about today won’t be about the menial chores done at office or what I had for lunch today. Just internships in general; the who, what, where, when of undergrads tipping their toes into the work industry.
Besides fetching coffee, learning how to use a photocopy machine and making lunches out of instant cup noodles, there is a lot to be gained from being an intern… Like, a whole career (Noelle, 2009).
It all began with a notice/ announcement that all of us had to look for internship placement ourselves or risked being put in UTAR’s lame management for administrative work. At the time of announcement, I was still undecided between developing further into Child Psychology or Clinical Psychology. Well, these are the “promising” and “high-paying” fields from what I gathered around. Of course that is not true, I can assure you now. To get in these 2 fields, one would have to be an intern at some general hospitals, welfare centre, autism centre etc. I knew fairly well I would be driven mad in all the centers mentioned as I’m not one to be all-loving and having abundance of patience for anybody. But, I WANTED to get into these two fields. Thus the dilemma/conflict, lol.
At the same time, friends and classmates all around have started identifying their internship places and went for interviews. Quite a few gave me the OMG-THE-WORLD-IS-ENDING look when I replied them flatly I haven’t decided on where I wanna go yet when asked.
I began searching for alternative companies offering internships to psychology undergrads. I looked at other institutes’ list of internship alliance they had. I sent a few enquiries to several companies that caught my attention such as World Vision, HELP, and Universal Team Builders etc. As luck would have it, Universal Team Builders gave me a positive reply. They are a teambuilding and event organizer company which I never heard of except for the fact I just stumbled upon their quite-pro website.
I just knew I wanted to get in UTB when I saw the elegant lady who interviewed me, I know, pretty ladies, always been my vice.
Before I started working, people were already scaring me with horror interns’ stories like operating photocopy machines 24/7, working like a mule for more than 50 hours a week with (almost) nothing in return, bosses who scold your whole generation of family as if they are worth nothing, and maybe sexual harassment for the females classmates. These of course weren’t true again, for majority of cases.
Before I knew the truth, I was in fact quite worried of my internship, how much they were gonna pay me, what the boss would ask me to do at the office etc. My worst fear was confirmed when the boss asked me to pack teh tarik for him from the mamak. That time, I was only thinking “Oh shit, here comes my internship from hell”. Quite rightly so because I have been conditioned into believing the nonsense people spread around to scare the juniors. Thinking back, this wasn’t his way of doing at the office. I soon realized that the pack of tea was just for me to show my respect for my boss who had just accepted me as an apprentice. That was the only time boss asked me to pack a drink for him.
I learnt that, being intuitive and attentive are all you ever need to be successful in internship or even full-time job. What the boss tells you, you pick it up fast. In the jungle, if you are not fast enough, you are food. One more, undergrads must have an open/positive mindset in getting the job done. A lot of my classmates thought that paper shredding and filing works are absolutely useless. I’d say that was their best chance of really understanding what the company is about, what they do, and how the company goes about doing things. Tonnes of information are at your disposal at that time, it just depends on how you want to look at things. The workload increases as time goes by and before I know it, one month had passed.
The issue of paycheck at the end of month comes inevitably. Wasn’t satisfied with my paycheck. I compared myself to other colleagues who worked almost the same with me but got a full-time payment. But that was all silly envy which I got past pretty fast. I continuously told myself that I’m here to gain experience, and also prove my worth to the company by being an exemplary intern. This is the time for me, and all other interns to show how valuable an asset they will be in the future. But I still consider myself lucky enough compared to other classmates who worked as “free labours” at some place. Not an entirely good thing but it’s not entirely bad also.
It’s no secret that more and more employers are turning to hire-now-pay-later model of staffing their organization as the cost of hiring the wrong person for a job can be stratospheric (Noelle, 2009)
The end game is mostly to offer a full-time job with full benefits, and they (the companies) would much rather make that kind of commitment with an intern whom they know and comfortable with rather than gamble with an expensive mistake (Rahim Abdullah, 2009).
Lastly, flopping an internship isn’t a matter of life and death. Internship programs are just a platform for us undergrads to experience/have a taste of what the real work life is. Internship programs help undergrads to understand the work culture in any company and also to help undergrads find a work culture that suit them and their personality. If you find yourself unhappy working at certain places, try others. At least now you know what type of work doesn’t suit you. Being an intern, I’ve also learnt how to take criticisms from boss constructively. Learn from past mistakes, never repeat them twice. Own up to the mistakes made, learn to be responsible. Bosses are more forgiving and appreciative towards an honest apology than any attempts to cover it up.
That being said, happy interning to everyone reading this! 3 more months to go before going back to study life. Work hard, play even harder!