Written by: Clara Lai, Ang Yin Li and Raeesah Hayatudin
Have you ever thought about what it’s like to be in the working world? And by that, we don’t just refer to working in business companies or a busy hospital! Internships are experiences which are highly valuable in any field, whether you’re looking to work in the arts or sciences. In addition, for college students wondering which university degree to apply for and which field to pursue in their future, internships are the perfect way to figure out how well you’re suited to a particular field.
What is an internship, exactly? Essentially, it is an opportunity for students from high schools, colleges and universities to work at a company for a short time, commonly for three to six months. Internships may be paid or unpaid, depending on the company or organization, and this also depends on your level of experience.
Here’s why many young adults grasp at the chance for an internship: the skills that you learn from the few months of your internship can be honed into strengths which will help you succeed in the future. The following are the most prominent skills we developed during our internships:
- Technical skills
- Management skills (i.e. time management and project management)
- Communication skills
- Problem-solving skills
The skills and knowledge gained during your internship, such as those listed above, can be used to enhance your curriculum vitae. This helps to improve your future employability.
To illustrate what we mean when we say all these things, we will share our internship experiences with you.
I had a 3 month long internship last October as it was a requirement in my course (ICAEW).
My 3-month internship in an audit firm was exciting as it was my first job experience. When I joined the film, my seniors were very friendly, and took me and several other interns under their wing. I joined during a ‘non-peak’ month when the firm was not so busy, and so my seniors had a lot of time to patiently take me through the basics. I learnt to pick things up quickly as my work started to pile on. Being able to relate everything that I had learnt in classrooms for months to real-life scenarios gave me a sense of accomplishment.
A key point during interviews is that the company is interviewing you to see if you would be a benefit to the company and if you would fit in well. You should also keep in mind that during this process, you should ask them as much as possible to see if that company would suit YOU as well.
The whole point on an internship is for you to explore your opportunities in various industries and jobs so that you have a bigger picture of what it’s like.
For those who are hesitant to start an internship due to academic pressure, time constraint, other people’s opinions, etc.: failure only happens when you stop picking yourself back up. Being able to handle rejection is an important strength to have in life. My classmates and I had a limited amount of time to be able to join a company/firm and so there was a lot of pressure. Most of them managed to get into their first choices while others had to settle for other options. Despite being rejected, they took the opportunity to look beyond their initial choice to explore further.
I hope that you too, will be able to make the best out of your internship!
I had an interesting internship in April last year, which was the Work-Based Learning semester in CFAB. I started to hit the ground running right after the company briefing and on my second day of work, I was given the privilege to experience a taste of fieldwork together with my seniors.
It was truly an eye-opening time for me, as there was plenty to learn and discover every day! It was way beyond my expectations. This internship was challenging yet rewarding. Besides developing my technical knowledge in auditing, it helped me to improve my soft skills as well.
I believe that when we experience something first-hand, we will understand and remember it better rather than by simply studying about those things from a textbook. During those three months, I developed a clearer idea about how a real auditor’s life is like.
Before starting my A Levels at Sunway College, I went through a four-month internship programme (the Research Scholar Programme, RSP) at Brain Research Institute Monash Sunway (BRIMS). This experience formed the foundation of my understanding of what science beyond high school level is like. I conducted my own project and I participated in other research projects at BRIMS, which were run by my supervisor and several PhD students.
I can say honestly that during those four months, I was the busiest I’d ever been. But I was also the most productive I’d ever been, and only happier for all my efforts. While I was in BRIMS every weekday from 9am to 5pm, I worked hard to learn as much as I could. Outside it, I made time for my hobbies (writing and reading) which I hadn’t had much time to indulge in during my last year of high school due to my IGCSE examinations.
I recall the long hours I spent in the lab at BRIMS with fondness. Through my project, I learned to be more responsible and self-sufficient, and I learned how to conduct several experiments in molecular biology such as gel electrophoresis and real-time PCR. I learned to organize my work efficiently. I became skilled enough that I taught other interns how to carry out more complex experiments for their own projects. By the time I left BRIMS, I was close to several of the students and interns there, and it was almost like leaving high school all over again. From my experience, I knew that the answer to my question “Are the sciences really for me?” which haunted me in high school was a resounding: “Yes, absolutely.”
For science students, don’t think that a long list of academic achievements is the only thing you need to qualify for a job in your chosen fields! Internships or shadowing experiences are not only for wannabe medical students and engineers and accountants and the like. Attending an internship shows that you are a person who takes initiative and makes long-term plans, and those are traits which many employers look out for.
Which type of internship would you go for? Whichever you’re interested in, we promise that it’ll probably be far better than anything you expected. We wish you luck for your internship.