Welcome to another episode of Intern-view, where The Border Collective interviews former interns of interesting and cool places and where we ask what’s their advice for the next batch of interns.
Please note that any company featured in this series is in no way endorsed by and from TBC. No one’s advocating that you should go intern at our featured places. We just thought that these people had stories and projects that were great to share.
Today’s episode’s all about Nikki Lucenario, who interned at BPI AMTG (Asset Management and Trust Group), Investment Research Division.
Nikki Lucenario is an AB Economics Junior from Ateneo who interned at BPI last June-July 2015. She was team captain of Miriam College High School’s debate team and Champion of IDEA 3 (Interscholastic Debater’s Association 3rd Regional Invitational).
She’s also a 2-time Speech Champion, having won the Voice of the Youth National Impromptu Speaking Competition and the Asian English Olympics in Jakarta, Indonesia.
For the past year, she’s been doing spoken word poetry with a great community of artists called ‘Mga Apo ni Lola Basyang’. She also did a lot of musical theater back in high school.
Right now, she’s on the executive board of Upstart LS (Ateneo), a brand new tech-entrepreneurship org with a lot of exciting projects coming up! She hopes to become a CEO of her own startup company some day, but in the meantime she’s learning graphic design and how to do creatives.
Won’t keep you from her Intern-view any longer, here’s Nikki on her time at BPI!
How did you find your internship?
I tried checking out contacts from my friends and relatives, but most of them didn’t seem to suit me well/scheduling problems/too far etc. I ended up seeing an ad for BPI AMTG on the Facebook group Ateneo Jobs and Internships.
It was a very spontaneous application for me. I barely knew anything about the job, but it sounded really professional and legit. Plus, it looked like a challenge. I guess I’d like to think the internship found me.
Why did you choose to intern?
Our generation has this really intense pressure to buff up our resumes and try to get ahead. I honestly think we feel this a lot more now than our parents or older siblings used to. People are just so smart and active nowadays.
So I went along with this and tried interning, mainly with the goal of adding serious looking work experience to my profile.
How was the experience of applying/being interviewed for the internship?
Weird. I sent a resume, forgot about it then received an e-mail around a week later. After scheduling my interview, I went to their office in Makati. The HR department mixed me in with a bunch of people who were going after full-time employment.
I felt very, very young. They shepherd us into a room and we took this ACET-like test, which I was unprepared for. Luckily, I got through everything and I had my first interview with their HR representative. This went pretty smoothly. They just asked the basic questions and focused more on when I was available to work.
I had to come back for another interview, this time with the heads of my actual department (including my future boss) and this was the really intimidating one. They were questioning my grades, my past org experience and even my general knowledge on economics.
Basically, you’re going to have to find a way to stand your ground even if you’re surrounded by people you can feel have a lot more experience than you. The entire process requires you to be flexible, professional and confident.
What would you say are the skills you needed when you applied? Did you pick up any new skills through your internship?
I definitely needed good writing and speaking skills. My job was pretty much researching and writing reports. I’d also have presentations to BPI officials or corporations so I had to know how to carry myself.
The internship taught me a lot about finance, economics and technical tools like a Bloomberg terminal. It also taught me how to think on my feet a lot because it was a very fast-paced working environment. I had to learn how to keep up with it. It wasn’t going to wait for me.
What was your expectation for the internship? How did the actual experience compare?
I was brainwashed by the picture of interns doing nothing but taking notes and fetching coffee. I didn’t really expect to have so much to do.
On my first day, they gave me deliverables that I had to accomplish by the end of the internship and they would occasionally add smaller tasks throughout the day. It was very hands-on and I got a lot of experience from that.
Nikki: Interning is useful, even if you’re not in a huge MNC. Work experience is work experience and sometimes, working in smaller companies means there’s more training for you.
What did you do during your internship? What kinds of tasks/projects?
I mostly did research. I drafted reports on government bonds and the general economic outlook of countries. I had regular presentations to different BPI officials. I attended meetings and accomplished daily reports with the rest of the interns at the office.
What would you say were the best parts about your internship?
The mentorship in BPI AMTG was amazing. Initially, I was already in awe at how smart and accomplished these people were. They were the best in their class. They worked so quickly and they were even relatively young.
The best part though was that they really reached out to the interns. They would go out of their way to explain things that we didn’t understand or to help us find ways to improve.
Their internship system put each of us directly under an analyst so we always had someone to ask when in doubt. It was like being in a super driven and intelligent family, but they really never forgot to still make it feel like family. Also, there was always food in the office hehehe.
What would you say were the worst parts about your internship (or interning in general)?
The hours and the travel time. The days in BPI start early (which is necessary because of the nature of the work). The job was in Makati and I lived in Cainta, Rizal.
If I left the house at 5AM, I would get there by 6:30-7AM. If I left half an hour later, I would arrive at 8:30-9:00AM. Traffic in the Philippines is terrible, but we have to adjust to it.
A lot of the time, I got home tired not because of the work, but because hours on the road had already drained me.
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?
Brace yourself. HAHA. You can’t really prepare for an internship, but I guess it would have helped if I was just more mentally prepared to work as hard as I had to.
Be open to the fact that you’re going to be encountering things that are very unfamiliar and that you’re going to have to figure out a lot on the fly. Just make sure that you always have the eager disposition to work and learn.
What would you say was your greatest learning from interning?
Work ethic goes a long way. What I lacked in knowledge of the field, I made up for with dedication and discipline. As long as you really want to and you’re willing to put in the work, you can pretty much learn to do anything you want to do. That includes excelling in your internship.
What was the most interesting thing you’ve done while interning?
I just met the coolest people. We would have meetings with people from such big companies. I got cards from people in really high-up positions. Trust me, you feel cool when you’re around such accomplished people.
What advice would you give anybody who wants/is about to start interning?
Just do it. Interning is a learning opportunity and as long as you have the right attitude towards it, you will find a lot to take from the experience.
Obviously, you’re really multi-faceted. Has not setting your sights on one career path ever held you back?
I always considered myself a jack-of-all-trades so I spent more than my fair share in A LOT different fields. I used to think it was a bad thing cause I want to be a businesswoman, a lawyer, an artist etc. though I know that it’s going to be hard to be all of these things realistically. This didn’t stop me from exploring all of these interests.
I think it’s perfectly okay to intern in many different fields. Besides, what you learn in one place can usually be used in another. Critical thinking/analysis, communication skills, work ethic– All of these are general skills that you need no matter where you end up.
Anything that you want to share with our readers?
Final advice: Remember that interning is a learning experience. You will encounter a lot of unknown territory and that’s a really good thing. Don’t focus on just being good enough to merit an internship, spend more time thinking about how to become better by the time you leave one.
Nikki: Having a working knowledge of the field is always a good thing, but don’t forget that you’re there to learn new things.
In case you have no idea where you are, welcome to The Border Collective, where any question you’ve got on internships, resumes, or careers in the PH can and will be answered. I’m Justine, founder and writer of all things here.
Intern-view is a whole category where we ask people who’ve interned at other places here in Manila to share their experiences and advice for anyone and everyone’s reading. Hopefully from their experiences you’ll feel like there’s a lot more possibilities out there. We want you to feel like sky’s the limit for you!
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