The 15 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Interning

Not everyone has the same opportunities, even if they’re in the same situations simply because everyone only sees what they want to see. That’s a fact I realized when the other day, 6 random people messaged me about interning. These were hardworking people, good grades, good orgs, good everything. And they were nervous and curious and questioning me about interning. Me who has no good anything. How did it end up like this??

At some point, I was just repeating my answers from memory, no longer thinking about each question deeply til I thought about making this FAQ. A go-to list of questions answered by those who have already lived through it and then some.

So, I enlisted my good friend, Betina Ong, who interns more frequently than I do to answer with me the most frequently asked questions we get about interning. Then also some that aren’t so frequent in the next part. We realized that this kind of information isn’t so readily available to our fellow Ateneans, and wanted to remedy that.

“Why are you 2 good enough to answer internship questions?”, you may ask. Well, let me just summarize our respective 2015’s. We’re both juniors, and when we started we were just sophomores. I’m BS ComTech, she’s AB IS and my former blockmate. Neither of us were required to go intern, but we went and did it anyways.

In the last 12 months, Betina has interned for Rogue magazine, Petron, Coca Cola PH, and a headhunting firm, while also working with both YouthHack Manila and CAMP Philippines by setting up their internship programs for high school students. She exercises regularly and by that I mean, like everyday, has learned how to cook, all while maintaining a stunning QPI on a full course load with tons of groupworks sprinkled in. She also commutes to work, which has been in Pasong Tamo to BGC to Paseo de Roxas to etc. She lives in her own condo at Katip, and goes home every weekend to Laguna. She’s also the nice one.

In the last 10 months, I have interned for Citibank Philippines, Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp., and a business-to-blogger event incorporation, while also working on the EB for Barefoot Philippines and Microsoft Student Community. I also get home before 6:30 PM everyday so that I can tutor my 9 year old little brother after work and studies, plus I get 7 hours of sleep. Every. Single. Night. I commuted to Makati everyday for 4 months, and to school everyday since the days after Orsem. I live along Shaw Boulevard with strict Chinese parents, plus I’m only 5 feet tall and I look like I’m 14. I have a mediocre QPI, and had next to no previous org experience before my junior year started. I’m the mean, frank one.

I always swore no to Makati and no to banks, but I'll make an exception just this once.

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Below are the 15 most frequent questions we get about interning. If you still have questions, there’s a form below that you can use to ask us some more. But if you want to ask it to us personally, hit us up on FB. Hope we answered something useful for you. 🙂

How did you get your internship?

J: The first one, I just turned in my resume to the job fair, got a call back one day in Filipino class, went to a “half day” interview where in 3 hours they’ll decide if they want you or not, and the rest is history. It sounds like a breeze right now, but trust me, I was nerve wracked through the whole process.

The second one aka INKOMPASS is only applicable for either sophomores or at least those who still have 2 years in school left. I’ll talk about how to apply to it in the future because it really is singularly one of the best experiences of my life.

Asking around is really helpful, and sometimes cold calling via email someone you know in HR can also help. My best bet though is Kalibrr.com for some legit ones where the company is actively looking since they posted the job.

B: I applied, I did a phone interview, I did an in-person interview, and then I formally got offered the internship. Pretty much the same process across all my internships actually.

J: When I do the same process for orgs, I always get rejected before hahaha. One of the girls who rejected my org position app ended up messaging me on how I get internships with my  skill set because she reviewed the resume I sent her after she saw my internship posts, and couldn’t make sense how I was doing better than most people, from her HR perspective. So, just because you do tremendously well in org or in internships doesn’t mean you’ll do well in the other.

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How did you find your internships?

B: 1st: Justine! HAHAHA I was working with CAMP Philippines (a lovely org that you should check out! we help local HS students get into universities abroad) and expanding their internship program for HS students. My job was to get leads and e-mail all sorts of companies about potentially hosting HS interns and it just so happened that Justine’s enlit blockmate’s older sister is the HR Head of Rogue Media. She was looking for marketing interns and Justine passed along the e-mail address. I initially contacted them for CAMP, but my schedule was pretty flexible and I was really bored, I figured I might as well apply.

2nd: Petron I also found during my research for CAMP. It’s a well known company and the internship is listed on their website.

3rd: ZMG Ward-Howell I discovered through the Ateneo Jobs and Internships FB group :-bd

4th: Coca-Cola’s internship I found through JobStreet.

I had actually applied with them a few months earlier through my friend’s older brother (who was an HR intern at the time), but by the time they got back to me about an interview, I had already said yes to Petron. When they called, I made sure to save the name and number. Good thing I did too, because the second time I applied, Jobstreet was having problems with the link. I looked up the name of my contact on LinkedIn and connected with him then sent him a message saying I was having problems with the link, but I’d like to apply. He gave me his e-mail address and 48 hours later I was at the interview 🙂 (My boss later told me that one of the reasons I was hired, even if they wanted someone full-time and I could only do thrice a week is because I was tenacious and persistent about interning with them – not everybody would have made the effort)

*I should note that for every internship that worked out, there were others that didn’t. I was called about Citibank as well, but at the time I was already with Petron and Citibank said they’d call when I finished my Petron internship; they never did. I applied for INKOMPASS  and I made the top 100 but I didn’t make the final 17. A few Philip Morris executives gave me their calling cards and  told me to send them an e-mail if I didn’t get in and I did, but nothing really came from it. Colgate-Palmolive said that they’d be happy to take me, but only during a specific few weeks and that didn’t work out with my other internship commitments. Johnson&Johnson didn’t work out because of location issues. JP Morgan didn’t work out cause of conflict with Petron’s internship schedule. Holcim was another great internship opportunity with not so great timing. (Kinda like with relationships – timing is everything)

J: Job fair meant for the juniors and sophomores at that time. Everything else came from my network of friends. It pays to be friends with really different people. Like INKOMPASS from my friend in ACTM’s EB who wanted them to win the cash grant. Blogapalooza from my Twitter friend who has turned into one of my favorite confidantes.

I’ve been exceptionally “lucky” (I hate that word, but it’s the most apt) because wherever I apply, I usually get accepted. Sometimes I don’t even apply, and I get accepted. Smart called me the Friday after I inked my INKOMPASS contract to say they found me promising and would I want to be an intern for them. A lot of startups found me on LinkedIn and invited me to join their teams. I applied for a HK marketing agency internship, and they were game to shoulder my plane expenses and allowance, but my parents vetoed it since I would be alone abroad where I can’t speak the language.

#BLESSED to be part of the top 15 out of 4700

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Small company or big?

J: Depends on you, what you’re after, and what you’re ok with doing. I ended up going to multinational companies first because I knew their structured internship programs wouldn’t get me fetching coffee for my bosses. I have no servility at all in my system, so small-ish, busy companies weren’t on my list since I associated them with that coffee stereotype.

Also, I personally wanted something that would jump from the page when people read my resume. Or at least, something that would get my parents street cred at the “my kid is better than your kid” conversations. Now that I’ve got it, I started looking at small companies that would let me do work from home during the school year. The startup scene where you have to sit together and generate ideas doesn’t interest me currently; I like getting home a lot more than I like being part of the groundbreaking new workplaces. That’s how I ended up with Blogapalooza. (More on this in the future.)

B: Both have pros and cons. I always knew I was going to go corporate multinational, so I prefer big companies and the resume value is greater if the company name is known. But the value in going the start-up direction is that they have less people, so you’re more likely to get more meaningful responsibilities, which is great learning experience and good for the resume as well.

Overall, I’d say if you have limited experience and need to boost your resume, learn the skills first in the small companies where they can give you enough attention to train you well. Once you’ve learned the skills, go sharpen them in the big companies, where you’ll gain the resume boost.

J: PS, do the opposite in org work. Go to the giant orgs, learn skills there, then jump to the small ones so you can rise in the power structure faster.

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Did you need a lot of experience to get an internship?

B: 80% of the work is showing up. I’m convinced that I’ve had a lot of internships because I’ve bothered to put in the 15 minutes it takes to apply for them and showing up for the interview prepared.

That being said, many big companies have structured internship programs and those tend to be really competitive, so the more experience the better. However ‘experience’ can also mean, academic, co-curricular, or org work. Basically the companies just want to know that you’ve been productive in some way.

J: Org wise, no, skills wise, yes. I taught myself how to sit properly, not fidget, do eye contact without being creepy, and talk slowly as to not show that I was still thinking. That’s not including the skills I was being hired for though. If you can work with little supervision while remaining curious, then you’re ready to go.

 

Help! I don’t know how to make a resume!

J: I’ve actually been toying with the idea of writing people’s resumes for some money, like you get a 30 minute slot where we work out together your strengths and weaknesses and shit, then I write your resume and up to you to edit it onward. I’ll always be an email away though, if you avail of the slot thing. Or maybe I’ll teach a class on it. I don’t know as of yet, but if I hear from you guys that this is something you’re willing to pay for in the comments or on the Google form, then we’ll see.

B: Buy me lunch and I’ll make one for you (½ jk) Google is your friend here. If I have to give one solid piece of advice it’s to contextualize everything by making sure your descriptions of your experiences are somehow quantified.

J: It’s not an easy task, and it’s hard to not be a generic resume. There’s a tendency to just write the job description and nothing else. I agree with Betina, Google is your friend, but a mentor aka in my case, a prof who has a solid job is a best friend. I had the benefit of having a fantastic LS10 prof who showed me his resume, plus gave me tips on how to use numbers to contextualize everything I did on the basis of what was done previously and what I did better in my position.

B: I’m pretty sure contextualizing everything is a P&G thing cause I picked that up from my MKT 101 prof and he’s a P&G alum as well. HAHAHA

J: P&G alum profs are the best profs to ask for career advice from, honestly. Do your best to get in a class with one.

 

How did you balance interning during the school year?

B: Prioritize! I really wrote down in my planner ‘acads>internship>org work>family>friends’ so that if I was ever in doubt or had a conflict in schedule, I knew what to prioritize first.

I had straight classes on T-Th from 730am-6pm and only one break. From the first day of class, I already told my groupmates that I wouldn’t be in school on MWF but I would set aside my only break for our group meetings. Taking an uber from Katipunan to BGC is faster (and cheaper) if I leave my condo at 6am and get to the office an hour and a half early, so I would always do my work super early in the morning at the office (or downstairs at Wildflour). It’s actually really cathartic to hit 9am and be done with all of your homework for the next day.  

J: Prioritize chos. Self-discipline as well, which does not come easy to me. Group work heavy sem means group works come first above anything else since there are other people’s schedules and grades to work with as well. Everything after that was up to how I felt that day. I wake up at 6am and sleep at 10pm everyday, so I have 16 hours to do everything I need to.

Also, I don’t own a laptop so I can’t take work around with me always. This forces me to write my papers way earlier than everyone else, especially the procrastinators. So, I’m never as stressed as my classmates simply because I had a 6 hour window the moment I got home to churn something out at my desktop.

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How did you balance internships with your org work?

J: Google calendar and Wunderlist, swear to god, they’re a blessing. I just write everything down there and schedule everything, from classes to appointments, to meetings, to lunches with friends.

B: In both of my orgs (CAMP Philippines and YouthHack Manila) I was part of a team of students living around the world, so most of my ‘org work’ was phone calls, e-mails, and skype conference calls at odd hours. I’m lucky that it worked out that way, because I definitely would not have had the same level of flexibility if my orgs had been Ateneo orgs.

 

Which is more important, internships or org work?

B: Depends on the quality of your org work or internship. (Eg. Being president of AIESEC definitely has more bearing than fetching coffee as an intern in a not well known company. But interning for Unilever has more bearing than being an AVP of an unknown org.)

As a recruiter though, I put more value on internships than org work because doing well in an internship is a better indicator of how well you’ll do in your first job than org work is.

J: Up to you and what both mean to you. HR departments are getting smarter about how they hire us. You could be president of an org, but if a former Atenean in the company says that that org has few people in it or is easy to rise up in, your presidency is next to worthless. My org work is meaningful work for me because I’m helping people either through tech literacy or through getting a better childhood. It’s win-win-win for me, since my resume also shows that I have a heart without me ever having to say a word.

B: Ditto with the org work. Both my orgs have clear advocacies that I really am passionate about, so as corny as it sounds org work doesn’t feel like ‘work’. I guess, follow your heart and do what brings you the most meaning. You can’t fake sincerity (Recruiters interview a dozen people a day and learn how to read basic body language. We know when you’re faking it.)  

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How did you manage your schedules?

J: During the 4 month summer, I just didn’t bother coming in for school because Makati + traffic. During school, I start working at 7am because I’m in school by then. Everyday. I make everything into digital readings and store them on my phone as commuting entertainment because it’s a 15 minute train ride. I schedule lunch with friends that I use as a block in my time to force me to work even faster.

B: I packed 18 units into a T-Th only schedule, so I was actually at the office more often than I was at school.

Applicable for Ateneans: Usually internships are a valid excuse to loadrev, provided the profs and department secretaries aren’t too strict about it.

J: Addendum to Betina, DOES NOT WORK ON THE HISTORY DEPARTMENT. Stone cold foxes, they are.

B: *And SA department’s pretty strict too. But generally, SOM secretaries get the struggle and they try to help. 

 

Was it worth it?

B: Yes! I don’t have any regrets about interning during the summer or even during the school year. Every internship I had prepared me in some way for the next one and by the time I was at Coca-Cola my resume was solid enough that I was being considered by companies that I had originally thought would never consider me.

I entered my first internship believing that I was destined for marketing, but after 6 months in HR, I figured out that HR is my one true calling 🙂 Would have wasted a lot of time,effort, and opportunities, if I discovered that while doing a full-time job after graduation, instead of early on in a short-term internship.

J: Yes. I learned a ton about myself that I never would have in the Ateneo academe or org life setting, plus a ton of things about the world around me. Like that most people buy just enough food to cook for the day from sari-sari stores, they don’t buy in bulk like I do.

Yes, yes, a billion times yes, though I advise you think about what you are planning to get out of this. I didn’t have any such plan at all, so that’s why I was happy with whatever happened.

Also, same with Betina, I thought marketing was my calling. Now I realize it’s either sales or supply chain, but specifically the operations parts. I really like automating systems and shortening times to produce everything. I’m playing around with the idea of getting a masters in science or engineering to help me and I’d never even have thought of this without interning.

(This picture was taken during INKOMPASS. As part of my job, I went around with the salesmen to sari-sari stores to understand how the tech training they received impacted their work flow and the stores we sold to.)

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Did it affect your grades/ QPI?

J: Nope, if ever, it boosted it because I didn’t have time to procrastinate. The only thing bad in my transcript was a grade I couldn’t boost on my own. (If you ever saw that QMT post going around, that was me.)

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B: My QPI actually went up while I was interning! Having so little free time really forced me to budget my time well so I ended up doing all my homework early.

 

How did you convince your parents?

B: I told them that I wouldn’t let it get in the way of my studies and that the resume value is worth it. My parents weren’t always so supportive. Especially because I was commuting to the other side of the city and I started interning during the school year. I vividly remember telling my dad early on that every internship I took in college would have such a huge impact on the quality (and salary) of my first job offer after I graduate. I haven’t graduated yet, but I’m 98% sure that I was right. By the time I got to Coca-Cola and started being shortlisted for internships in really competitive companies, they were super supportive… Also I’m incredibly stubborn and I live alone so if I really wanted to, they knew there wasn’t much stopping me. I actually think my Dad didn’t support my first internship (financially – as in I was covering my own transpo cost), but he super supports my internships now so it all worked out for the best. Not that I recommend going against your parents, but in my case it worked out okay.

J: Mine were wildly supportive of everything from the start. Partly because I already had prepared answers to any questions or concerns they’ll raise since I’m a sheltered Chinese girl by nature. Partly because I said the word Citibank. But I vote you send this to your parents before you break the news that you’re interning somewhere, it helps them perceive the current job market better. My mom sent me this as part of her blessing to my lifestyle choice. 

Rappler: The number 1 thing PH employers want to hear about in a job interview

 

Will I get paid?

J: (This is my favorite question because money is always on my mind as well.)

That’s totally up to you and where you apply. I apply for internships everywhere, but the moment they tell me it’s unpaid, I just say, “Thank you for your time.” I have a ton of funny stories on my end of companies who wanted me to work for them but for free. Hahaha. 

I personally wouldn’t take one that won’t even give me a stipend simply because I know what my time and commute is worth. Not everyone has the privilege to be as picky as me though so just take note of what you can offer and what’s the most you’re willing to deal with, then try to find somewhere the can offer you the best experience you can get without ruining your mental health.

B: Depends on the company. Generally, the bigger the company, the more likely it is that you’ll get paid. Although there are exceptions. I was with Coca-Cola for five months and it was an unpaid internship, but ultimately I think the resume value was worth it. Thank god I have such supportive parents who were willing to pay for all my Uber rides!

 

Were you with other interns or alone?

B: In all of my internships, I was with other interns, although in Petron I was the only one in my department (and my office was separate from the other interns), so that kind of felt like being the only intern.

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J: Lots of other interns, I had lunch buddies everywhere I interned since it’s weird for me to eat with older people, but within my departments, it was just me, myself, and I. For Blogapalooza, I do everything with my life partner, Raymond Evaristo.

 

This is what I should have said during my final #INKOMPASS presentation if I hadn't started crying. "In the end, Inkompass is one of the greatest things to ever happen to me. I met 16 amazing people my age who simultaneously amaze and terrify me with how good they are. I met the iSMS team who believed in me and pushed me to go farther than I would have without their guidance. I met mentors like Brett, Arnie, Robbie, and many more who graciously gave up some of their time to listen and coach me. This summer means the world to me, and allow me to tell you why. In school, I am known as a slacker. I am lazy and my favorite pastime is to read books rather than to better my future by studying or joining orgs. Those are integral parts of who I am, I do not deny it. But because those are such integral parts of me, I am not a first pick for any leadership positions. Orgs do not want me, and I've become fine with that. But that came with a small price to pay which is I lack realistic self-confidence in myself. In other words, I know I'm good but no one else does so it makes me think am I really any good at all? Joining Inkompass and making it here to the top 17, making it here to this stage and speaking to you all, gave me an answer to that. There /is/ some good in me. I just need to find a way to productively show it. And I realized here that the best use of my time was in learning and growing as a person. I took on a project I didn't originally love, and now I cannot bear to let it go. I sat in Makaw's room, asked a billion questions on how HR works, and now I find myself so curious about it that I can't let it go. I took up residence in your pantry and some of your work spaces, and made noise with my friends as we made memories about this summer to remember when we have a small reprieve on what is undoubtedly the beginning of the busiest time yet in our young lives. So, thank you. To all of you who took time out of your busy schedules to be here, thank you. To all of you who have taught me anything at all, thank you. To all of you who I annoyed with my noise, I'm sorry and thank you.

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Biggest pros and cons of interning?

B: Pros: Resume value!! You also get to test-drive the industry and types of companies you want to work for with limited commitment. If your dream job turns out to be a bad fit or isn’t as great as you thought it would be, at least you find out early.

Cons: My social life took a hit. I only saw my friends early in the morning for breakfast or for late dinner after work. I didn’t date for a year. HAHAHA (still worth it though)

J: Pros: Skills building, self esteem booster, self learning. Trial by fire is how I learned project management. I also have a new found confidence because I know I won’t be scrambling for work like everyone else when I graduate. That’s lead to me taking more on my plate because I know I can handle it. Lastly, there’s new stuff I figured out about myself while I was interning that’s lead to me being more at peace with how I am. Acceptance of the things I cannot change, and strength for the things I can is my new motto hahaha. 

Cons: The time, money, energy you spend on work. I didn’t talk to my own family a lot during the weekdays of summer but they were OK with it. A significant other is a potential hassle if they’re not supportive. Friends who are also clingy are super hassle. I have a great best friend who made the journey from Mother Ignacia to Makati to take me out to lunch because she missed me.

Also, you might not like your work as much as we loved ours.

B: On that note, I really really really disliked one of my internships and I was meh about another. But if I hadn’t interned at those companies, then I wouldn’t have figured out what I can’t stand in a company (traditional top-down hierarchy, bondi clock mindset, not doing meaningful work) and I wouldn’t have found the perfect fit for me. Overall, the pros far outweighed the cons for me!

Lunch date c/o the love of my life ((look at all that food for 2 little girls and be very afraid))

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Thanks for reading, and I hope we answered some of your questions! 🙂 If you want to clarify something or we haven’t answered one of your questions, feel free to ask it to us through our Google Form here:

http://goo.gl/forms/cd9Lxx3J28

If you also have suggestions on how we should help out our fellow Ateneans and students in general, particularly the younger ones on getting internships, suggest it to the Google Form or directly to us as well! (My idea is holding either a class or one-on-one sessions to help hammer out a stunning resume, what do you think?)

Our next part will be about super specific questions and situations we were asked about. Stuff like what we did at our internships specifically, random scenarios, and one shady question hahaha. Also, if you want our help in looking over your resume and giving you tips about it, email either of us at justine.ltchua@gmail.com and bets_ong@yahoo.com or hit us up on FB. We can work out compensation along the way, because like I said, time isn’t free. You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram as well @ChaiXingJun!

Lastly, you might be wondering why the featured image is me on a bed. Well, thanks to my internship at INKOMPASS, I got to fly to Cagayan de Oro for free for a few days as part of the job. On that trip, I got free meals, a free teddy bear from the hotel, this hotel room, a tour around, and the chance to farm. I don’t think perks can get much better than that.

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