What should have been this Thursday’s post is coming out a bit late because
a) I posted the Blogapalooza one on Wednesday evening, thereby messing up the post frequency, sorry not sorry, and
b) Betina and I put a bit more thought on what we wrote here than we normally did.
For most of you reading this series, the Internship FAQ’s is the closest, and potentially best, source of information you will get about interning as an Atenean. Or at least, that’s what we’re getting from the feedback we’ve received so far.
And our aim since the start is to give you as much unbiased information as possible to help you figure out what kind of journey you want your college years to be!
That is terrifically hard to do because we are such staunch advocates of interning, as proven by the first 3 parts of this series which can be found here, here, and here. Also proven by the fact that we are now doing this series until Part 7 only, unless we get more questions in our Google Form here.
This time around though, we’re soothing the pre-internship fears most of you guys face by talking about what we wished someone told us before we started interning. Written here’s the advice we want to share with you, so that you don’t have to go through the same pains, if and when you decide to intern!
Though it may be fun to walk boldly into the unknown, in practice, it costs a lot more to the physical and mental health of the walker. Trust us. The two of us did enough blind walking for everyone to avoid.
Part 4 also talks about what we think you all need to understand before going off to internships because not all workplaces are created equal. Some are cool and hip and Instagram-worthy; some are not. Most are in Makati and BGC, and that’s a minimum 15km distance from Ateneo, resulting in a 1hr travel time by car and unknown travel time by commute, depending on the state of the trains that day.
Reminders before we head on over to the questions, Betina and I are both juniors; she’s in IS taking Psych and MGT, while I’m taking Comtech aka the course where a lot of basketball players are at. She has more internships than me, and she’s the nice one. I am the definition of a sheltered Chinese girl, and I am the mean one.
Thanks for reading, and hope we answered something useful for you! 🙂 If we haven’t, drop us your questions here at our Google Form.
What do we generally need to know about internships?
B: Think of internships as a Career 101 class. It’s important that you learn as much as you can and do well because that sets the foundation for all the upper-level classes. It’s a basic class and your prof (or in this case your boss) expects that you start knowing nothing, so the learning curve really is gonna be steep. But once you pass the class (or finish the internship) you’ll have all the basics you need to tackle more challenging tasks and responsibilities. If you approach internships from that perspective, you can’t go wrong. 🙂
I also want to point out that sometimes you take a 101 class in a subject that you thought would be your major and you hate it. For whatever the reason – bad prof (bad boss), bad classroom (bad location), or you realize that it wasn’t what you thought it would be – that’s completely okay! If it’s a case of a bad boss or a bad location, then you really ought to try interning somewhere else before giving up on that career path. If you find out that it just isn’t your dream, then that’s fine too. At least you figured it out early so you don’t waste a lot of your time on a career path that you don’t love.
J: Betina got everything down into a perfect metaphor. Every internship you take adds some sort of experience to your life, which in turn helps you gain new perspectives and skills. These are what you’ll take with you in finding more experience that brings you closer to your true calling.
Think of the internship journey as something akin to the one in Pokemon, only instead of trying to be the very best, you just want to find a job you love. Sometimes you love the job, but getting to that job is a pain. Sometimes you love the work, but the current boss is a pain. Sometimes the whole damn thing is a pain, and now you’ve saved yourself what could have been years of frustration by condensing it down to 3 months. Congrats!
B: Justine and I both thought we were destined for marketing, but it took getting assigned to different departments for us to realize that we liked the idea of marketing, but we weren’t really sold on the reality of marketing. She loves streamlining processes and I love dealing with people. We fell into where we were meant to be, but it would have taken much longer if we didn’t intern early.
J: No matter what, you’ll always be able to take something away at the end of your internship. If you’re only going to remember one thing from this post, which I hope not hahaha, then it’s that sentence.
Sometimes though, that something you take away could come from a sudden stressful moment that arises from interning, especially if you’re juggling this with acads or if you’re a deep thinker type. My most stressful moment, which led to my greatest takeaway from interning, was realizing I don’t want to work in marketing, while I’m taking a degree associated to marketing. That caused the most tense 3 weeks of my life. I was ready to shift to Management the moment I got back to school until I realized a) I’d be with strangers, and b) I’d be even more delayed than I already am. (Shoutout to my 30 unit semesters this coming 2017!) But I also realized, I like the theories in Comtech well enough to study them day in day out, but not well enough to practice them for the rest of my life. 😀
If you were going to take any other thing away from this answer, it’s that internships help you understand why we learn what we learn at school. I came back with a renewed sense of purpose to study because I understood what Ateneo is trying to imbue us with before we go out there. This kind of perspective is important, especially if you’re a questioning kind of person (like me).
What are important things that you wish you’d known, or you think I should know, when I’m looking for internships and applying for one?
J: I made a list in my head, while commuting to school the other day to answer this hahaha. Here’s my Top 10 “I Want You To Know Before You Go Interning” things to know.
- If they’re not paying you, they don’t own your time.
- If you’re going to be doing graphic design, then you better be getting paid.
- If you’re doing intensive, time-consuming graphic design, you better be getting paid A LOT.
- If you’re a SOM slave like me, prepare to give more than 100% to rise above everyone else because we’re a dime a dozen so effort is what will set you apart.
- If you can finish your work before 5pm, better. Makati traffic is hell starting at 5:05 pm. Same goes for the MRT and FX lines. The next time it’s OK is 11:31 pm.
- If you didn’t sign a contract, you’re not obligated to do shit you’re not comfortable with. Stand by your gut feelings.
- Meetings should be first thing in the day to get it over with. Also, bring notepad and pen to every meeting to look like you’re paying attention. It’s plus points for personal PR in the office.
- Don’t feel like you’ve got to sacrifice everything to them to get their approval. Be the chill intern who gets work done when they’re not looking. You’re not staying there forever. There is an actual expiry date to your stay there so you don’t have to give 600%. 80% or less is OK. People pass tests with 80%.
- If they don’t like the way you’re solving the problem, talk it out with them why. If their answer is “because we always used to do it the other way”, gently tell them times are changing. It has to be gentle because you’re the expendable character in this scenario.
- If the old adults make jokes about you, remember it’s because they’re old and a little jealous since they don’t have the opportunities you do now. Be the better person. The generation that came before us is a little racist, sexist, ageist, and misogynistic even though the Philippines is the 5th best place in the entire world to be a woman. It still sucks.
- An internship only runs for a set number of weeks so it can only do you good to show up every day on time and ready to work. Even if you hate it in the first week. Even if you hate it on the first day.I wish I had really kept that in mind throughout all my internships, because as much as I loved my last 2 internships, I got drained and really demotivated with the others. Don’t ever give your bosses any excuse to question your work ethic.
- When in doubt, ask. There were times when the instructions were a bit malabo so I’d just wing it and hope that what I was doing is what they wanted. Usually it worked out, but sometimes it didn’t and there is nothing more frustrating than putting your entire week into an output that your boss doesn’t want.
- It’s okay to ask for a flexible schedule. (Especially if you’re commuting or interning during the school year.) This is super important and it took me 2 internships (and 6 long months) to figure out. I used to commute to and from work and I figured out that I needed to leave at 5:30 instead of 6pm to beat the evening MRT rush. I didn’t actually ask my bosses if I could have a more flexible schedule until I was starting to get exhausted and getting home at 10pm+.With my last 2 internships I really made it a point to tell them from the very beginning that I needed to be a little flexible with my end time because the commute is terrible. I used to really not want to do this because I didn’t want to come off as entitled, but with traffic this horrible, there wasn’t much choice (not to mention the fact that I was doing this while taking a 21 unit course load).
The secret for a more flexible schedule (without being hiya) is to ask before you agree to anything; bring up your concern during the interview. And if you back it up with a valid reason, then they’ve no reason to say no. If they insist on having an intern full-time and you feel like you can’t realistically manage the schedule, then don’t take it. Trust me, it will only cause you a lot of frustration down the line to take on a schedule you can’t handle.
Do grades really matter?
J: Hahahahaha this is the reason I started this FAQ’s in the second place. To inform people about the relationship between grades and interning. The first reason is I was tired of answering the same questions over and over again so I compiled the 15 Most Frequently Asked here.
Yes, but not as much as you’d think. I get turned down for a lot of things because i don’t have great grades to back me up. Generally though, those jobs require an information overload aspect, so I’m OK with being rejected. After a while. If you don’t get over things quickly, I suggest you take up a combat sport.
Grades are a good measure of how hard you’re willing to work, how good you are at retaining information, and how good you are at pulling all that information out in a pressured environment. Or how good you are at gaming the system. The recruiters won’t know which though. So, to those slaving away to become DL and your heart’s aren’t in it, take a break and be kind to yourself. They matter now, but not as much in 10 years’ time.
B: Justine had a post go viral a month ago and I posted this in response:
J: This is honestly one of the kindest things anyone’s ever said about me, and let the records show that I am eternally grateful that Betina Ong is in my life. 🙂
That’s it for this post, which was definitely a quickie, so don’t forget to like The Border Collective on FB to keep updated on everything we do here! We’ve got a lot in store, from a Magic 89.9 Junior Jock talking about what she does, and how she got there, to the differences between a corporate internship and a startup internship!
If you’ve got any ideas about what you want to read or you want to ask us for help, don’t hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com! You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram as well @ChaiXingJun!
Thanks for reading, and hope we answered something useful for you! 🙂 If we haven’t, drop us your questions here at our Google Form. Or just drop us a line there. We love hearing from you guys! Happy hunting!