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 features Charles Justin Lim who interned at Saperium, inc.
Charles Justin Lim is a graduating student of Ateneo de Manila University, 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 10 orgs this year (only somewhat active in 3 though because Microsoft is always on his mind according to him).
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.”
Thanks for reading and hope Charles 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. 😄
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.
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.
What would you say were the best parts about your internship?
The people, the snacks, and the fun. Really. Saperium is a great company. 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. 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).
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.
Do you have anything 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, 2016. For any inquiries, please message our page at Microsoft Student Community on FB. Hope to see you there!!
Related: Intern-view: Nikki Lucenario on BPI
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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