Intern-view: Charles Justin Lim on Saperium, Inc.

Justine: Hey there, readers! Missed us? 😀 It’s been a busy week for Betina and I, so I apologize for not updating The Border Collective sooner. Hell week, planning for our futures, plus our talk last Friday took precedence by accident, but we’re back. Sorta.

I’m excited to introduce this week’s (aka should-have-been-last-week’s) Intern-view post because he’s one of my excellent friends and my boss at Microsoft, Charles Justin Lim, Ateneo de Manila University, 4 BS Computer Science. He interned at Saperium, Inc., a software company aiming to revolutionize the IT outsourcing industry, from April to July 2015.

Currently he’s a Student Partner for Microsoft (think of them as Microsoft Ambassadors for the campus), and he founded the Microsoft Student Community of the Ateneo last May. He’s part of ten orgs this year (only somewhat active in three though because Microsoft is always on his mind). He loves music and theatre so much that he wants to found a company that merges his love for technology with his love for music.

And in his own words,

“I performed for blueREP once in a production and numerous times for gigs. I’m weird. I want to understand how the world works through technology and the sciences. Two very different things, but I’m weird so I don’t really care.”

We’ll be back to regular programming soon, but watch out for the latest TBC announcements on our FB page! Something’s coming soon, but we literally can’t disclose anything until the ink’s dry. 😀

Until then, why not read up on everything else we’ve written here on The Border Collective, like Part 2 of the Internship FAQ‘s series or our Intern-view with Nikki Lucenario on BPI! And for those with 2 years still left in school aka graduating in 2018, why not read up on What’s INKOMPASS and Why You Should Apply For It! There’s still 18 days left to apply for the best internship program for sophomores in the Philippines!

So, thanks for being patient, thanks for reading, and hope he answered something useful for you!


 

How did you find and pick this internship?

Saperium, Inc. held a company talk in Ateneo at the time I was looking for an internship, and I felt that out of all my options, I could grow the most there. The company wasn’t that big yet, meaning that I could be supervised more, and I wouldn’t have to be stuck doing small tasks that don’t make much of an impact, unlike in big corporations. That, and its location was super convenient (my sister has a condo unit nearby and I could crash with her while working).

 

Why did you choose to intern?

We’re required to take an internship for our course. 😀

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Making our own version of Instagram.

How was the experience of applying/being interviewed for the internship?

I’m pretty chill with interviews, but this one had lots of levels. Usually you can get by with just character, but this particular one needed both character and know-how. Since I was applying to be a software engineering intern, I needed the actual technical ability to code. I first met with their senior architect, Sir Jerome, then with their team of senior software engineers, then finally their CEO, Sir John. They asked me about my work experience, my previous projects, and other things that I like doing.

 

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What would you say are the skills you needed when you applied? Did you pick up any new skills through your internship?

Well, me needing to know how to code was the most basic requirement. Others I would say would have to be knowing how to market my strengths well, and making them feel that I know my stuff (of course actually knowing a thing or two also helped loads). Most of all, I did my best not to put up an act and to just be myself in the application process. I didn’t want to put on a face because I wanted to be comfortable working with them, and vice versa.

Aside from learning how to make cool websites, I picked up the value of discipline and teamwork through my internship. Our work schedule was more deliverable-based rather than time-based, meaning you could come in at 11AM or later, as long as you finished your set tasks for the day. Once done, you could leave even before office hours end. The work environment was super chill that sometimes I felt lazy to take that 10-minute chill walk to the office from my sister’s condo unit (now I get how dormers feel), but I had tasks for the day so I really had to suck it up and go for it.

I learned that time goes by really fast when you procrastinate so time management was (and still is) something that I have to work on. I also learned that I’m no genius when it comes to learning new things and I have to be humble enough to ask for help when I need it. Making websites is no easy task when you’re as OC and stubborn as I am, but luckily there were people in the office who got me, and helped me all the way.

 

What was your expectation for the internship? How did the actual experience compare?

My expectations were to learn and have fun. The actual experience was much more than I expected. I think the way the company is run was the major contributor to my experience as a whole. The people are great, the way we were managed was great, the work ethic was great, and the communication between co-workers was great. I had no idea whose positions were higher in the company because they all seemed like super close friends. There was no air of superiority with the higher ups because they’re really friendly and approachable. The CEO was unbelievably generous with free lunches and coffee and snacks to munch on while working in the office, and he gave really great advice to me when I asked about founding a company of my own (tech startups yay).

 

What did you do during your internship? What kinds of tasks and projects were you given? Did you volunteer to take on a task yourself?

We (my fellow interns and I) learned to make websites using ASP.NET. We underwent training through walkthroughs that they had prepared for new arrivals in their office, and the system was after every set of walkthroughs, you have a major deliverable to show the team after a set period of time. I had two.

First was to create a website administration tool (which I won’t delve into much, too technical, even for me) and the second was to make my own version of Twitter, which I took upon myself to make an exact replica of. I did everything, from the back-end databases to the front-end design. I put in functions such as creating accounts, editing them, tweeting, using hashtags, following users, etc.

Seeing the end product was really fulfilling; I couldn’t actually believe that I did that all by myself. In terms of volunteering to take on a task, I didn’t really, but I did choose to go all-out on design even if I didn’t have to, just because I could.

 

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Eating out with coworkers!

What would you say were the best parts about your internship?

The people, the snacks, and the fun. Really. Saperium is a great company. I cannot stress enough how much I grew as a person because of the whole experience. I wanted to finish my freaking schooling and graduate already because I wanted to start working full-time. I still do. June’s still so far away. Ugh.

 

What would you say were the worst parts about your internship (or interning in general)?

Tough question… Hmm. I guess the time when I had to juggle Intersession classes and part-time internship work. Jumping from BGC to Katip then back to BGC everyday was not fun at all. I had to rent a parking space in my sister’s condo building because I needed to drive around, which gave me my first fixed cost (yay adulthood) and virtually wiped my internship allowance clean.

 

If you could go back in time to the first day of your internship, what is one piece of advice you would have given yourself?

FOCUS. Do more with your time. Sayang ‘yung opportunity. I procrastinated way too much and did much less than I could have done when completely focused, more so during my part-time phase.

 

What was the most interesting thing you did at your internship?

Independent life! I had total control over my time after office hours so I started working out more, and I taught myself the basics of piano (I’m still a noob tho).

 

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What would you say was your greatest learning from interning?

Corporate life isn’t so bad if the company you’re working for is a good one. Independent life is also fun but it does come with its responsibilities. Connections matter, and you have to relish every moment you have with the people you’re working with because internships are temporary and time flies quickly.

 

What advice would you give anybody who wants/is about to start interning?

Look for a company that you feel you will grow in. Company talks matter because they give you a glance of their inner workings, and that’s your way of telling if you like a company or not. If you’re after personal growth, I’d suggest going for a smaller company. If you’re after the name and/or the contacts, big corporations are good, too. You’re really lucky if you can find a big name corporation that you can grow in in a span of a few months. Keep your options open, sometimes a company you’d never have considered applying for will turn out to be the best decision you’ve made in a while.

When it comes down to it, network. Connections are really useful to have and it pays to get your name around while it’s still early. Build your strengths and show people what you’re made of, and lastly, be yourself. It’s tiring to play someone you’re not for an extended period of time.

If you don’t click well in your interviews for a company, you probably wouldn’t like it there anyway. Show who you really are, and I promise, the people who matter will see your value for what it is.

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Having a mentor really helped me grow.

FREE SPACE, write whatever else you want to say to the readers!

I did mention that I founded the Microsoft Student Community in the Ateneo, and one of our advocacies is really to introduce tech as a career path that absolutely anyone from any field can take part in. This is why we’re partnering up with lots of companies and startups from different sectors and bringing them to campus for a career fair solely focused on tech, ending in a conference featuring a series of company talks from tech companies, including Microsoft Corporation. Pardon the plug, but I do feel that this is a great opportunity for all Ateneans to apply for internships or jobs and to network with people in the tech industry, because that’s where everything is going in this evolving society.

This is all happening during Microsoft Week, from April 18 to 23. For any inquiries, please message our page at Microsoft Student Community on FB. Hope to see you there!!

 


And that’s it for this week’s Intern-view with Charles Justin Lim! If you’re thinking of going into tech and still want to know about different careers in it, we interviewed Alexis Collado, a UX Design intern for Jump Digital a few weeks back!

Plus, if you’re not acquainted with The Border Collective yet, we also write a different regular series: the Internship FAQ’s where Betina and I answer your questions about interning, job hunting, resumes, and interviews! We’re already on Part 10, and you can read them all here on the site. I suggest you start with Part 1 though, because there’s an actual progression with how we talk and advise.

I also talk about INKOMPASS here on the blog and on The Border Collective’s FB page, particularly about what it is how you can be a part of the 2016 batch of INKOMPASS interns! So did one of our Intern-views, Greg Chua. We’ve got tons of other Intern-views coming up, like with a law firm intern, and the continuation of the FAQ’s, so keep up with us at our FB page and our Twitter @theborderc!

If you have any questions about interning, you have any suggestions on how we run the blog, or you want to nominate someone to write for the Intern-view series, drop it here into our Google Form! And if you have time-pressured questions or you want to be assured your anonymity, drop it here in our ask.fm!

Plus, super huge favor to you, dear readers! Here’s another Google Form that’s more on feedback we want to hear from you. We want to know what to work on, what’s goods already, what we should just scrap. So if it’s not too much trouble, please fill this up!

To contact either Betina or me, email us at betina@thebordercollective.com and justine@thebordercollective.com! For business inquiries, email it to admin@thebordercollective.com! You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram as well @ChaiXingJun!

So, thanks for reading and hope Charles answered something useful for you! Talk to you guys soon!

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