4 Specific Questions About Interning

I like the questions asked this time around because they were similar questions I was asking in my head too before I started interning. These are the nervous, unsure questions that go through every student’s mind before they intern, in my opinion.

3 questions about the things you need to know before you intern, and 1 question about a very specific situation that involves some tricky etiquette to solve. Unlike now though, where Betina and I are writing our answers to these questions, no one was around to answer mine. There lies the answer to why I started this FAQ in the first place.

I don’t want anyone to go around uninformed by thinking that their futures are wholly dependent on how good their grades are right now. That’s just not true anymore. We have options.

Quick reminder, Betina Ong is the nice one, I aka Justine Chua am the mean one. She’s the one with stunning grades and the HR recruitment experience. I’m the one with shitty grades and the tenacity for applying to things that only DL’s should normally get. I’m also the frank one. But she’s the one with solid advice here in writing.

Also, there won’t be any pics in between this one to make it a quicker scroll! If you want to show your support for us, you can either like and share this article, like The Border Collective’s FB page, or invite your friends to like the page! We need approval too!

Thanks for reading, and hope we answered something useful for you! 🙂


What did you do in your internship?

J: Citibank, I created macros to automate their system. I didn’t know how to do this prior to the internship, but I learned. Can do a pretty OK job now.

Philip Morris, studied how to make improvements in the training for the salesmen of the company through tech training. Never took quantitative and qualitative research classes, so I was flying blind but my learning curve was pretty quick there. Made surveys, took research, field work, tinkered with the app, made my own prototype app, made a prototype video class, surveyed the salesmen and the partner sari-sari stores.

Blogapalooza, accounts manager and energizer bunny of the group. I kept chatting from 6am to 3am during the day of the event, ran errands, took pictures, socialized, made the bloggers feel welcome, and was generally the energetic one for 18 hours. The months before that I messaged brand’s FB pages, in my search for sponsors with my beloved partner, Raymond Evaristo.

B: At the time I interned, Rogue Media was about to launch L’Officiel Manila so I was mostly making phone calls for planning that. My boss would give me a list of companies she wanted to partner with and I’d have to find a way to get e-mail addresses by making a lot of phone calls.

Petron has this CSR program called YIELD where public school HS students OJT at Petron stations; I was in charge of that last summer.

ZMG Ward-Howell basically taught me everything about the end-to-end recruitment process (aka headhunting). Client companies would give us job descriptions for the kind of candidates they were looking for and we had to process all the submitted resumes on jobstreet and try to source candidates from LinkedIn. Then we’d do phone interviews, in-person interviews, run background checks, and make profile summaries to give to the client companies.

In Coca-Cola I did a lot of recruitment – mostly paper screening resumes then doing phone interviews. If the candidate made it past both, my bosses would do the in-person HR interview, but sometimes I got to do that too. 🙂 I also helped with a lot of the culture building events (eg. company halloween party) and sometimes I’d do encoding for compensation and benefits.   

 

Specific skills you learned at your internships?

B: Taking and making phone calls, writing professional e-mails, the importance of being on time (many of my bosses were impressed that I was almost always early), and the importance of following deadlines. I cannot stress the deadline thing enough. I was really bad at doing that at first because in school it’s easy to do everything the night before it’s due, but I learned that work always piles up and things don’t go as planned and it’s just better overall to get things done ASAP.

If we’re talking about tangible skills: how to conduct interviews, how to do phone interviews, how to screen resumes, how to do background checks and contact references… I pretty much had a crash course in everything to do with recruitment.

J: Same, when it comes to writing professional emails and the importance of being earlier than expected (the boss of my boss was surprised to see me sitting in the pantry at 7am everyday and we started having morning chats where he just asks me about what it’s like to be a teenager, and how he as a parents should prepare for it).

Other things I learned: the importance of being ready to learn something new at any moment (be it how to operate an Italian coffee machine or writing a quantitative survey), where to find cheap food in Makati, always wear comfortable work shoes (because I walked once from Forbes to the office because airport traffic and I don’t think I could have done that in flats), and that it’s better to ask questions before you start, lest you do the wrong work. Also, I got to sit in during a job interview and ask questions to the interviewee, so I know what we look like from the other side of the table.  And also what fidgeting looks like.

 

I have been interning for this company for three months already but it just so happened that the third month was December aka holiday break for the company and school. Work has already resumed for the company and I messaged my boss if it’s still okay to continue with my internship. She hasn’t replied ever 🙁 It’s an unpaid internship naman but would it be rude if I like don’t go back na? I just feel iffy about it because parang there’s no closure??? (parang love life choz) haha what do I do? 🙁

J: Email boss up to 3 times, and email any co-workers about it. What kind of work were you doing? If it was a project, then you most definitely have to go back and finish it. Do you want to go back?? If so, just show up at your normal hours and talk to your boss about the situation. If there’s an HR person at the company, you should probably bring this up to them so that they can form intern protocol. You could make that into your own project, forming intern protocol for them.

B: If you made effort to get in touch with your boss and she never replied, I’d say that the burden’s off you. Sometimes you really never get closure and this might be one of those cases.

 

1. Do regular peeps look down on you?

2. Why intern now?

3. Is internship really needed to be accepted in a good company?

4. Internship exp vs school achievements in resume?

J: 1.a) Not to brag, but a lot of regular peeps started asking me for advice and help to get internships of their own. I’m doing what I’m doing with 7 hours of sleep every night and with a semi-balanced life. Acquaintances would small talk for a few minutes before launching into questions about how they too could apply and get in to where I’d interned, which is jarring because I’d rather people just launched into what they wanted from me. The reason I enlisted Betina to help me write this article is because there’s really a demand for this kind of information.

B: 1a) Okay I interpreted that question way differently than Justine did – I assumed that it meant ‘did regular employees look down on me for being just an intern?’ And my answer is for the most part, no. I had one experience in a traditional company where my opinion wasn’t taken as seriously as I would have liked, but I think that had less to do with position and more to do with age. 30 year olds don’t like hearing suggestions of improvement from teenagers, so they didn’t take any of my suggestions to heart. (Mind you, listing down suggestions for improvement was actually one of my tasks as an intern, but they just didn’t want to hear criticism.)

1b) On the off chance that this person really is as cynical as Justine believes, I’ll answer that too: No, if anything interning a lot set me apart as someone who works hard, is ambitious as hell, and is good enough to get into prestigious programs. I see nothing negative in that. 🙂

J: 1.b) You can tell I have a chip on my shoulder from everyone thinking I’m dumb af because of how fast I spew out words hahaha. I’m far too used to be looked down on, both literally and mentally, so that irritation comes out quick. Sorry 🙂 I learned I have this chip from interning actually. It’s something I worked out while talking to HR because they’re so absurdly helpful and I had a lot of realizations while working. It was like therapy sometimes. Actual HR is nothing like org HR.

To answer if regular office peeps looked down on me, no, I was in structured internship programs so they really made room for me to enter their workplace. HR assured us the teams were oriented already about how different the interns would be from them and how to listen to our perspectives. A lot of my bosses ended up asking me not only about my job, but about being a young kid nowadays and the kind of pressure we’re under to succeed. I really felt like my ideas were being listened to, and that the criticism I was getting was to make the ideas better?? (Though I take a lot of criticism from older people lightly as a general rule.)

In Blogapalooza, my boss specifically chooses college students to work with because we’re so flexible and idealistic and able to think outside of the box. Structured corporations tend to be the opposite of those traits, so though no one ever looked down on me personally, I felt I was looked down on sometimes for being naive and idealistic about how to solve problems in my projects.

 

(2. Why intern now?)

J: 2. If not now, then when do you plan to start? When everyone else does? I don’t like playing by the same rules as everyone else, the whole “if you get good grades, a good job will follow.” shtick, and I had some free time to kill so why not? I know the job market is ever evolving and the fact that I can’t code or graphic design already puts me at a severe disadvantage. People my age in Western countries and in Singapore are already millionaires because of their startups, without college degrees. This is my fastest way of playing catch up without having to open my own startup.

B: 2) Interning is valuable experience and the sooner you start, the better. Many of my friends were actually required to intern before graduating high school and continued to intern every summer of college (sup International School friends) – so the idea of waiting until summer after junior year of college always felt a little weird to me. I guess it’s very much a personality thing as well; I’m ambitious and I like being two steps ahead of everyone else, and interning a lot allows me to have a huge leg up when we graduate.

 

(3. Is internship really needed to be accepted in a good company?)

J: 3. We decided to answer this question in a separate post to tackle an issue we realized that’s prevalent here in Ateneo: entitlement. Our original answers for this question were far too long, and involved some mini-ranting which would have added an extra 1000 words to this post. 

 

(4. Internship exp vs school achievements in resume?)

J:  4. Depends on what you achieved. If your internship was getting coffee and xeroxing things, then that’s worth nothing. If you placed third in a contest at school, but there were only three competitors, then that’s worth nothing too. Context is key for everything, and if you can explain it during your interview eloquently, you’re more likely to blow them away with what a great candidate you are. If you can do both though, why not? A well-rounded individual is sometimes better than someone who is a master at one aspect but can’t perform well in every other aspect.

Jack of all trades, master of none,though oftentimes better than master of one.

B: 4) Org work and academics give an indication of a candidate’s ability to perform in a job, based on their soft skills in related areas. Internships show exactly how well a candidate has performed in the past doing tasks similar to a fresh grad and developing their hard skills. Internships are a better indicator of future job performance, hence more useful to the recruiter.  

I can’t make a blanket statement about which is more important (context is everything!!). But if it came down to someone with excellent grades, but super limited internship and org work, or someone with a great track record of internships and org work but not-so-great grades, I’d take the one with the proven track record of internships.

J: Reading Betina’s words makes me feel infinitely better about my shitty grades. 🙂 I feel like we give so much stress to academics that those who are not good at it, feel they are worth less than their peers who excel at it. That’s not true, and don’t you ever let anyone make you feel that way.


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

A post we’re most definitely writing next is about the Atenean attitude in the workplace and the answer to “Is internship really needed to be accepted in a good company?”

If you have any ideas or suggestions as well for what we should write about next, feel free to drop it off into the Google Form, email us at bets_ong@yahoo.com and justine.ltchua@gmail.com, or hit us up on FB! Don’t forget to like The Border Collective and share it to your friends! You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram @ChaiXingJun!

Thanks for reading!

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