Specific skills you picked up at your internship? – The Border Collective

I like today’s question because it’s so specific. Not many people bother asking about the skills picked up during an internship, they’re more concerned with the skills you need to get one. Smart question, anonymous asker, smart question.

Focusing on tangible results & setting expectations for yourself pre-internship is a great way to structure your experience, an idea I had very late in life. Having an idea of what you should know by the end of your internship helps you structure a simple learning plan to follow at work, plus preps your transferrable skills for your next venture.

Everyone should have a concrete idea of what they want to know//not be a complete novice on before the midpoint of their internship, so that you can set aside time for both self-assessment and for performance reviews with your manager, boss, and//or coworkers.

BONUS: A simple, concrete way to get quick, and (more importantly) actionable feedback is to ask, “How am I doing on [this certain skill that I know I suck at] and what’s 1 thing I can do right now to get better at it?”

Asking a general “How am I doing?” will get you a generic “Doing great!” + thumbs up reaction, which is useless since you’re an intern. You’re not supposed to be doing great. You’re supposed to be learning and growing and slightly failing but always pulling through at the end. If you were doing great, you should be getting paid the equivalence of those people.

Remember that no matter where you go or what you do, people love giving you their opinion on how you can do better//be more like them as long as they feel like you’re seriously asking them for it. Use that to your advantage in your quest for self-improvement.

To help you get an idea of what kind of skills you can and should be picking up at your internships, I broke down some of the skills I have that I attribute to interning into the table below.

It’s too difficult to break down everything per internship since I can’t pinpoint the exact moment a task started becoming easier to do. So instead, I divided the skills into 2 broad categories, Technical & Soft. From there, I broke it down into narrower subsets based on the kind of tasks I did.

This isn’t even close to everything I learned, it’s just what comes to mind.

In other words, this is the trauma that haunts me if I let myself randomly reminisce.

Don’t compare your internship learnings to mine because a) everyone’s learning journey is different. And b) this is just a quick skills recap out of the many, varied internships I’ve had. This is by no means an exhaustive list nor a “things to pick up at your first and last internship” list.

But to help provide you better context, I chose work that was usually full time, for 8 weeks, in high-pressure environments where I was well taken care of by HR. I had a clear line of command, and a coworker near my age to guide me. There was a project with parameters, and a senior executive who wanted my project to push through and succeed.

Translation: I volunteered to be thrown into environments where I was expected to pick up everything thrown at me within 36 hours, and succeed.

But I didn’t succeed; more often than not, I didn’t even come close.

There were a lot of lectures, on talking too much or not talking enough, on not delivering on time or not delivering what they wanted to see, on being too simple with my solutions or on thinking of too complex a system. The moment I thought it was getting easier was the moment before I’d get another lecture.

Truthfully, now that I’m in full on reminiscing mode, I realized I spent too many lunch breaks either
going for a solitary walk around the nearest mall, with my earphones playing really aggressive music or
crying in a bathroom cubicle or
sitting at my desk, staring at the screen and typing sporadically while screaming in my head.

But the benefit of hindsight shown me that I’ve never hated my internships for causing so much unwarranted stress in my life; I chose to do this after all. What it does mean is that a good internship can and will kill you, in its quest to make you into a stronger person who can deliver actual results in a real work environment.

Just be open to the struggle.

And please, don’t compare yourself to other people. There’s so much better things to worry about. Like how climate change will kill us all, so how should we change human habits to mitigate that incoming disaster.

Before you go off into that worry spiral though, here are the specific skills I have that either made me tear my hair out or made me tear up in the process of gaining them.

Survey & Questionnaire Design
Collecting Data
User & Consumer Interview
Constructing a Representative Sample for Whole Population
Database Management
Ethnographic Consumer Research
Observation-Based Consumer Research
In-depth Process Interviews

Presentation Skills
How to present a 15 slide PPT in 5 mins
How to present a 15 slide PPT in 30 mins
How to build a 43-slide deck in 10 mins because my boss suddenly said we should have a ‘catch up’ meeting aka he wants me to do a full presentation on what I’ve been doing the last 3 weeks but all I’ve been doing is mucking around
How to edit a deck in 5 mins because you asked what should be in the PPT and they said 4 sections you didn’t add in and 2 sections you haven’t even started on yet

Simple Statistical Analysis
Multiple Hypothesis Testing
Insight Generation
Pivot Table Analysis
Comprehensive Quantitative Analysis of Qualitative Traits
Data Visualization & Presentation
Conclusions Proof Using Consumer Stories

Talking to higher ups, especially when they’re not my direct boss
Writing short, to-the-point emails
Writing long, professional emails in a formal voice
Not using exclamation points in emails because I think I’m being too serious in this email and I need to lighten the mood
Cutting out my bad habit of nervous laughing, talking too fast, and not talking at all because people are weirded out by me.

Project Management
Setting & following your own deadlines
Breaking down your deliverables into smaller, more manageable tasks
Placing those deliverables into Gantt Charts (then explaining why you didn’t follow it)
Updating teams and stakeholders involved frequently
Problem Solving and Critical Thinking
Fire Fighting
Dealing with unhelpful stakeholders

Personal Traits
Punctuality, especially to meetings, but usually for work because traffic.
Initiative in asking questions about expected output, about what not to do, & about possible hypotheses because you don’t want to build the wrong thing. For the 3rd time.
Creativity in volunteering new solutions, adapting them to the project, and pilot testing them yourself so that they like you better.
Detail-oriented, especially with documentation for transitioning the project because you don’t want them to call randomly during a school week because they don’t know how to implement your recommendations

Fun fact about my punctuality skill. Because I hate how bad traffic and commute lines at the MRT are, I was usually in the office before 7am everyday. The boss of my boss saw me sitting in the pantry one time, and was so surprised that a 19 year old awake that early, that he invited me to have breakfast with him everyday.

We started having morning chats where he usually asked me about what it’s like to be a teenager, and how he as a parent can help. Roughly, how should he prepare for the incoming angst and anger from his teenagers. And I asked him about the things that scared me about my future and the future of work. What it’s like to just upend your life to go abroad, to constantly have to learn new things long after you left school, and to spend your entire working life in 1 company. A mutually beneficial partnership.

I wouldn’t have had this once-in-a-lifetime experience if I hadn’t been such a cheapskate about commuting. How many times do you get to sit and chat for prolonged periods of time with an executive director, old enough to be your father’s older brother? For me, I doubt it’ll ever happen again. And I’m ok with that. Once is enough.

So, again, be open to the terrible realities of your working life because for sure there’s some silver lining in between everything we have to endure from working in Manila.

Other things I learned that aren’t really a transferrable skill but are still pretty relevant life skills:
How and where to find cheap food in Makati and BGC (whole meal < Php75),
Always wear comfortable work shoes (because I walked once from Forbes to my office in Paseo, thanks to airport traffic, and I don’t think I could have done that in flats or worse, heels),
The words needed to operate an Italian coffee machine (and that I really don’t like coffee),
How to survive working in Makati and BGC using only Php1000 a week

Also, I got to sit in during a lot of job interviews and conduct quite a few myself, so I know what we look like from the other side of the table. We look terrible, we make nonexistent eye contact, and whether we realize it or not, we fidget a lot. Something to work on pre-interview.

5 Productivity Hacks for Funemployed Fresh Grads-The Border Collective

One of Twitter’s coolest new features is that you can see what your friends are favoriting; a fast and easy way to see what everyone’s into or what’s happening around you. In my case, I see a lot of my fresh grad batchmates liking each other’s tweets about being unemployed, going to their 20th interview, and revising their resumes for the 15th time.

And it’s been about 3 months after graduation.

Since everyone seems to collectively agree that not having a job 3 months after graduating warrants a freakout, (even though it’s completely normal), I decided to pull together my favorite tips to tell my friends and underclassmen on how to maximize a long break.

Continue reading “5 Productivity Hacks for Funemployed Fresh Grads-The Border Collective”

How to Fix Your Resume in 1 Hour – The Border Collective

I’m serious, it’s that easy; you can fix up a working version of your resume in an hour. But you have to listen to the timer and not procrastinate. Sit down with pen, paper, and laptop and be fully present for this. Preferably your laptop should just have Google open, not 1 million tabs, because those tabs will siren call you. Don’t listen to them. If you don’t listen to this preface, then this won’t work. Yes, you’ll fix your resume, but most definitely not in 1 hour. Continue reading “How to Fix Your Resume in 1 Hour – The Border Collective”

Why You Should Be Attending Conferences – like what Harvard’s having at UP Diliman – The Border Collective

(Updated Oct 6, 2017) I love going to conferences. They’re the most productive way to spend your day, even if some think it’s a waste of time. And it’s only a waste of time, if

1) the conference is badly run,

2) the speakers are terrible, or

3) you’re uninterested in the topics. Continue reading “Why You Should Be Attending Conferences – like what Harvard’s having at UP Diliman – The Border Collective”

4 Ways Joining a Competition Benefits You and Your Resume

So, we reposted the 14.5 Things You Didn’t Know Had Resume Value on Facebook the other day, with no edits at all, and it got more than 2000 hits in the last 48 hours. And because it’s out there floating around, we got a question on our ask.fm, that I found very interesting. It goes,

“Hi guys! Just curious, where can I find solid experience to talk about in interviews??? :((( I don’t feel like just talking about my orgs or acads all the time since I think i look boring to the recruiters.”

Continue reading “4 Ways Joining a Competition Benefits You and Your Resume”

6 Habits of a Failproof Pre-Interview Routine

Justine: Hey there, readers! While watching the Vice Presidentiable’s debate the other day, I realized something. “How did they become such eloquent, spontaneous speakers in front of crowds of thousands, while most people my age can’t do a presentation without faltering?”

Continue reading “6 Habits of a Failproof Pre-Interview Routine”

What We Look For In A Company

Justine: Happy first day of freedom, dear readers, but the work never ends for Betina and I so we decided to start the week with Part 10 of the Internship FAQ’s series!

Today’s post deals with WHAT WE LOOK FOR IN A COMPANY. How do you know that this is the company you want to dedicate a sizable amount of your time too? What are the things Betina and I look for when we’re interviewing with a company? How do you know whether to avoid a company? We’ve done everything by trial and error, so we’re pretty knowledgeable on the pitfalls millennials should avoid for a happy work life. I think.

Continue reading “What We Look For In A Company”

3 Answers to Is Interning Worth It?

Betina: Hi readers! We’re back to our regular programming and continuing our FAQs! Between rounds of internship interviews and career fairs, it’s been a busy couple of weeks, and we’ve still got one very long week to go until midterm break, but we had time to answer just a few questions for you 🙂

Justine: So, to recap my past week at least, I went to UP Career Fair almost everyday to support the INKOMPASS signups there and also to go check out the candidates for this year’s batch of INKOMPASS interns. I also went to drop off 8 people’s resumes, which was intense because there were over 100 booths there. I ended up getting calling cards to send my resume to since I didn’t bring a hard copy. What do you guys think about us writing a how-to guide to career fairs since Ateneo’s is fast approaching?

Continue reading “3 Answers to Is Interning Worth It?”

9 Tips To Ace Your Next Phone Interview

Justine: Betina and I both finished our phone interviews with Unilever in the past 3 weeks, and because she wrote way back when that she had just finished hers, a lot of you sent in questions about how to go through the process! So, in the spirit of giving, which is what this blog is all about, we decided to write some tips down for phone interviews!

What we are not giving to you in a million years is the questions that were asked to us because that isn’t fair for both you, us, and for everyone else. (B: Preach!) If you get in because you super prepared for your interview like Betina and her hundreds of index cards, then good job! If you got in because you “cheated” by preparing only for the questions of the interview, then here’s a tight lipped smile for you. (B: Die.)

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5 More Answers To Your Not-As-Frequently-Asked Questions

Welcome to Part 7 of the Internship FAQ’s series here on The Border Collective where we answer the internship questions no one else has been answering! This is our first post since hitting 1000 likes on our FB page, so we decided to answer some of the hyper specific questions hiding in our inbox to clean it out!

Continue reading “5 More Answers To Your Not-As-Frequently-Asked Questions”

11 Things to Keep in Mind for Your Next Interview

Betina: Hello! I’ll be taking the lead on this week’s post. I’m assuming that if you’re reading this you’ve read our other posts, but quick recap if not: Justine and I are frequent collaborators and former blockmates who are unofficially 3rd Year BS Internship double minor in Orgs and Acads. I like people; Justine, less so. (J: I like Coke, if that helps.)

Earlier this week, I had a few internships interviews and I realized that Justine and I have been so focused on how to make a resume, that we haven’t really talked too much about what happens during the rest of the recruitment process. So we decided to tackle something that 90% of the people I know fear: interviews.

Continue reading “11 Things to Keep in Mind for Your Next Interview”

3 Things You Need To Know Before You Go Off Internship Hunting

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.

Continue reading “3 Things You Need To Know Before You Go Off Internship Hunting”

6 Incredibly Long Answers About Interning

For those just joining us now, my name is Justine Chua, my co-writer’s name is Betina Ong, and we are currently writing the Internship FAQ’s! We’re on part 3 already, so when you finish this up, I suggest you go to the posts before this and read the rest too. 🙂 If you can make a wittier, funner sounding name for this series, we would be greatly indebted to you because I am not punny or funny at all, so the name’s kinda boring. My friend voted we name it, “How to Survive the Semi-Real World”, and I’m actually a little tempted to. What do you guys think?

Continue reading “6 Incredibly Long Answers About Interning”

The 15 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Interning – The Border Collective

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, with good grades, good orgs, good everything. And yet, they were nervous, curious, and questioning me nonstop about interning. Me who has none of their good things. How did it end up like this? Continue reading “The 15 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Interning – The Border Collective”