Intern-view: Toni Garcia on Ayala HRMall, SGV, and The Spark Project

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 Toni Dominique P. Garcia, who interned at 3 different places and wrote about them all for TBC. Whew.

Fresh out of Ateneo de Manila University as a BS Management Information Systems grad, Toni has a way more interesting career timeline than anyone I’ve ever met. She’s worked for a corporation, an NGO, and an accounting firm. Specifically: 

Ayala HRMall Inc. as a Business Analyst Intern in April – June 2015,

Ayala HRMall Inc., is a fully subsidized company under the Ayala groups that is in charge of developing and implementing all of the HR software/systems of the Ayala companies (so Globe, BPI, Alveo, etc..) and other companies like international clients. 🙂

SGV & Co. as a Forensic Technology and Discovery Services Intern in June – July 2015,

SGV & Co. is a member firm of Ernst & Young that offers accounting services.

and The Spark Project as a Events Management Intern in June – August 2015

The Spark Project is an online Filipino crowdfunding platform that supports social entrepreneurships.

To humanize Toni so that we, myself included, don’t think of her as an unattainable god level being, I asked for 5 facts about her and here they are.

  • I’m an animal lover! And I SUPER love dogs hahahuhu :(( In my free time/when I’m stressed/procrastinating, I look at cute animal videos. Mostly dog videos. Hahaha.

    And one of the first things I’ll do when I graduate is probably go back to volunteering at an animal shelter.
  • I play the ukulele and the guitar.
  • Dark chocolate is the best food in the world!!!
  • I super love developing and coding websites and systems but I’m also a graphic designer at heart.
  • I’m from Baguio City but I don’t like aircon 😛

That fourth one didn’t seem very humanizing, but ooookay.

I met Toni because we were both speaking at a LSOPCS event about students who’ve interned. I loved her story right away; she was funny and open about sharing her whole journey, fears and laughs included. When asked about her dream job, Toni replied 

Hmm I don’t really have a dream job, more of a direction. I just know I want to work in the IT industry and use my skills to help people 🙂 but if I had to name a position.. Umm, Chief Information Officer/Chief Technology Officer? Business Analyst? Systems Analyst? Hacker for the good? huhuhu

And I think that speaks volumes for how this Intern-view is going to go.

Thanks for reading, and hope Toni answered something useful for you!

How did you find and pick this internship?

Ayala HRMall Inc. → an upperclassman posted that the Ayala Group Summer Internship Program was looking for interns, along with the e-mail of the person to send my resume to. I e-mailed my resume, landed an interview, and got the job!

SGV → same thing as Ayala, but instead I scanned my resume at the career fair. Aside from doing an interview, I also had to take an exam that tested my logic skills and MySQL (it’s a database management system) knowledge.

The Spark Project → My prof in one of my majors is actually the co-founder of this. He mentioned in class that he was looking for interns and a couple of us approached him after class, then after passing my CV and letter of intent, he oriented us and we started working.

Why did you choose to intern?

Because my course requires that we take an internship 😊

But even if it didn’t, I think I still would have because an internship is a great way to learn things you never can inside the classroom, or inside an educational setting.

That’s why I took on a 2nd and 3rd internship during the extended 4-month summer break when I could have spent those months vacationing or binge-watching stuff or trying to sleep my way to a taller height.

ALSO, it feels great to get paid! HAHAHA (J: SAME $$$)

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

How was the experience of applying and being interviewed?

Stressful but also fun (I must be really weird because I find this kind of stuff fun). I spent so much of my time during and outside of class stalking the companies I applied to while looking for even more companies to apply to (because the more, the many-er, right??? So the higher chance I’ll have of getting accepted somewhere, anywhere?)

I was really afraid no company would accept me. I felt like a small fish in a much larger ocean – I mean, was competing not only with MY genius batchmates in Ateneo but a bunch of other geniuses from other schools as well!! – so I applied to as many as I could.

Obviously, applying involved a lot of resume-building and interviews. For making resumes, the resume tip that I found most helpful was in this article → (This is definitely legit because it’s Google. Hehe.)

Interviews were also really scary at first, but after going to a bunch I realized there was a pattern. A lot of them asked the same questions (like, “Describe yourself”, “What sets you apart?”, “Why should we hire/not hire you?”, strengths and weaknesses, etc) and it became easier for me when I practiced my answers ahead of time.

I also remember one experience from a friend where the interviewer saw that he had put “proficient in Ruby on Rails” (a programming language) on his resume and the interviewer had then asked him to write a bunch of RoR code on a blackboard. Without any computer. ☹️

The thing is we had learned that programming language in class around 2 sems ago and since he never used it again, he could barely remember anything. After that, I became more careful about what languages I was “proficient in” in my resume and just the ones I was “exposed to.”

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

I applied for mostly IT internships, so obviously I needed some IT skills — a lot of coding-heavy internships make you take exams that require basic programming logic. And as an MIS major I also had to have some sort of grasp on management principles and systems analysis and design. (BASICALLY: Everything they teach you in class.)

Yup, all those projects and stuff can actually count as work experience. Org work is helpful, too – communication skills, leadership skills, events management and stuff like that.

And most coding-based internships DO NOT teach you how to code DURING the internship – you’ll have to learn that by yourself. You have to learn a lot of things by yourself during OJT, but still, don’t be afraid to ask questions.

For my internship at The Spark Project, I believe my little exposure to events management and secretariat work was enough to get me going.

I picked up a lot of new skills during my OJT, though! I got a lot of Project Management (specifically, IT Project Management) skills and I learned how I had to make sure the project was always within budget, on time, with high quality and high customer satisfaction from my IT internships.

My presentation and communication skills also improved like crazy because at my first internship I had to present EVERY WEEK to the BOARD OF DIRECTORS aka really important people!! The project itself also involved that I talk with and train a lot of people.

My 2nd internship, I gained more technical skills – I learned a bit more about Tableau (a software), and database management. For both internships I revisited using Excel VBA to program.  

I also learned a lot about Crowdfunding and Marketing from my internship at The Spark Project.

The great thing about internships is that just being there gives you a great chance to observe how those great companies do super official things in the most amazing way – and while experience is the best teacher, I got so much already out of just watching things unfold at the workplace.

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


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?

For one internship, well, right away they told me I would be doing pretty important work. Turns out it was SUPER important work that affected the entire company (NO PRESSURE!!!).

What was really shocking was that our mentor had assigned projects that weren’t formally approved so we ourselves actually had to propose the project to the Top Management and pray that they approved it (or else, go cry in a corner because we had prepared so much over the project proposal only to end up being rejected then have to find a new project).

In software development, it’s super important that you check your code properly to look for any bugs, and good testing is crucial to ensuring your software is bug free. The project I was in charge of was implementing a certain type of testing software for the company.

More than just learning, understanding, and deploying the program, I also had to train users, create a project charter, and delivery weekly status reports to the Board of Directors. The best part was that at the end of my internship, the company actually allowed me to go to a real client meeting with one of their most legit clients and I myself showed the client how to use the software! AMAZEBALLS 😀

At another internship, I thought I was going to be some super cool FBI NBI CIA KKK hacking stuff… but for a few days ginawa lang akong tagatype! WHAT?? 🙁 (J: They made her transcribe a ton of things.)

They just gave me some pictures with some SUPER illegible handwriting and told me to encode the illegible handwriting. I was so confused, but I decided, since I had nothing else better to do at the office, to discipline myself and do it anyway, and spend hours staring at a photo wondering if it was the letter R or the number 4.

Luckily, I was given real work later on and I was able to apply what I had been taught in class to create a software program that automates data cleaning.

It’s a huge relief to know that what I’m learning in my course in the Ateneo is still relevant to the industry.

And for yet another internship, a lot of it was communicating with companies. Reminding them of their deliverables, help in setting up various events, like creating powerpoint presentations, preparing materials, or documenting the event, thinking of how it can be improved, and monitoring responses.

In general, the people at my internships were really friendly and I loved that I wasn’t treated like an intern. In one company, we weren’t allowed to Sir/Ma’am anyone and we interacted with all the employees on a first-name basis. I had to learn a lot of stuff on my own, on the spot (I knew nothing about the software I was supposed to implement – how do you implement a program or project you know nothing about?? I had to learn it all by myself) and I also had to interact with a lot of people.

Even though they were older than me, I had to train the employees on how to use the software. I found it kind of cool that they were asking me how to do something.

I also did more than stay in the office – turns out that all Ayala companies undergo the Ayala Group Summer Internship Program, complete with seminars on project management, financial management, technopreneurship, a corporate social responsibility activity, and a fancy graduation ball-like thing. It was lots of fun to meet the other 134 interns from other companies.

What was it like working in 3 very different environments?

It was very challenging, because every environment worked pretty differently, so every time I transitioned to a new one it was like starting from scratch.

There was always a little something though I that I learned from the previous environment that I could use in the new ones. 😀

Related: What was your internship hours and how’d you balance it with acads?

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

  1. Seeing how other people will benefit from what I’m doing.
  2. Making new friends.
  3. Learning things I never would have been able to realize in an educational setting.
  4. Realizing if I’m willing to take on this type of work as my work.. FOREVER (ish).
  5. Lots of free food.
  6. MONEY. HEHEHE. (J: High 5!!!)

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

COMMUTING IS SO HARD. Even carpooling with someone/driving there is hard because you have to wake up SUPER EARLY to avoid traffic and PARKING IS EXPENSIVE. (J: I understand this pain. Our daily parking bill in Makati was around 200php.

The stress of fear of failure and high expectations from your mentor/boss/company. (But I think this stress is a good thing, too.)

At my third internship!

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?

Hmmmm. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and talk to more people.

Related: Intern-view: Milbert Capistrano on Oceanagold

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

Getting to meet and interact with a really big, important client (they’re a HUGE company in the Philippines) 😀😀😀

What would you say was your greatest learning from interning?


We must learn to find the value in everything we do.

(This is also probably why they block FB most of the time, kasi di daw (J: because it’s not) value adding sa time. lol)


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

Make friends! Whether it’s with co-interns or employees. One of my most solid, super close friendships started with the two of us being co-interns 🙂 Also, I was able to meet with a super huge legit really big company client not because I had asked to.

In fact, I wasn’t even supposed to tag along in the first place, but an employee of that company I had befriended personally recommended that I be the one to tag along and speak with them. And I didn’t even ask him to do it.

Be open. To new opportunities, to trying out new things; invest in yourself – that investment will give you the greatest return. You’re in college and all the orgs, all the projects, all the events you can participate in are just literally waiting for you to sign up and experience all these great things a lot of people can’t.

When I went to the super beautiful office of the super big important client, they had this huge quote written on their wall: “You have everything you need to build something far bigger than yourself.”

Magbakasakali (take a chance) kasi baka sakali, mainlove ka. Wag mong isipin na sayang magapply sa dream company kasi tingin mo hindi ka naman kukunin –  walang mawawala sa’yo pag nagsend ka ng resume sa gusto mong company. (J: Roughly, it translates to

“Take a chance because maybe, you’ll fall in love. Don’t think that it’s a waste to apply to your dream company because you think they won’t pick you – you lose nothing if you send your resume to the companies you like.”

Also, I know a lot of people find internships scary and maybe even have the mindset that it’s boring and you sit in front of the a computer all day and bore yourself to death. But if you actually do enter an internship, you might find yourself actually enjoying what you’re doing – you just have to go ahead and try it first.

Here you can realize two important things: what you want to do and what you don’t want to do, and it’s important to being aware of those two things early on is life.

Related: Intern-view: Anissa Villaverde on Ogilvy & Mather

Do you have anything else you want to say to the readers? 

When I’m nervous, stressed, scared, or anxious, I like to look at animals. Here’s one animal comic:


Basically, the female lions are all those companies out there hungry for new employees. And the males with the brown manes are you (or us) — the fact that we went to college, (and bonus, that we’re Ateneans) (J: or students of equally prestigious schools)– is the brown mane that already gives us an advantage. What I’m trying to say is:

Don’t worry, in the end everything is going to be okay.

And also, a testimonial from my HRMall co-intern! Her name’s Jenelle Wong 😀

“Just as what was previously discussed in the first AGSIP event (name), we were all given individual projects to take on, to present to the management committee and to complete.

It was a very unique experience because I could feel that my work was not just cast aside, and that it was not just an “intern’s project.” I felt that I contributed as an individual to the company, and as part of the team as well.

And it was (gratifying), because it’s not just about being able to contribute, the work environment was conducive to productivity and the people I worked with were welcoming. I enjoyed working in and with HRMall. And, surprisingly, I looked forward to most of the days, that is, of course, excluding our presentation days.

As for my learning: For me, really, what I value most in this experience is improving my interpersonal and communication skills. It especially helped when we were required to present to the people and coordinate with the key people involved in project.”  

I hope you liked all I had to say about my internsheep life 😀


Feel free to contact me for any questions or connections through my Facebook or my Twitter @tonistark23 — trivia!! This is a reference to my never ending love for Iron Man AND my never ending love for the Stark family from GOT. HEHEHE

You can also email me at!

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!

If you know someone with a cool story to share or you want to volunteer for Intern-view, check down below on how to reach out to us! Hope we can feature more places that gave out great internship experiences~

Got Any Other Questions? /

If there’s something you want to ask but never knew where to send them to, drop them in The Border Collective’s Google Form or Being a kid myself, I’ve probably gone through the same situations. And at the very least, I can tell you what NOT to do.

Content Partnerships, Plugs, or Business Deals?

Email your proposal and a summary of why that’s relevant for TBC’s audience. Don’t worry, we don’t charge money if you’re student-run, just social media x-deals, just like we did in our features for MSE Summit or the APEX Challenge.

Support TBC?

If you want to publicly support us + get brownie points from us, like The Border Collective’s Facebook page!

About Justine

And if you want to know more about me, or about TBC, read my bio! You can also reach me at Or connect with me over Twitter, IG, and LinkedIn, @justineltchua there.

Hope you read something useful, til the next time we feature someone on Intern-view, bye~

Join TBC’s private email list to know the best resources for

  • Figuring out what your dream job is
  • Making the right connections without coming off as a user, an idiot, or a soulless drone
  • Acing every interview, getting an interview anywhere, & then some
  • Reading and applying Western business and management books here in S.E. Asia
  • Knowing which podcasts are worth your time, and which are just filled with fluff
  • And much more

Most of my advice is very different from other career “experts”, since I actually tried and tested it myself. And because, you know, I’m a Chinese girl in the Philippines who tried out for almost every multinational here, while building contacts up in the startup world.

So, expect it to be very contextualized for Asians, women, and // or millennials // Gen Z-ers.

PS, do not sign up if you’re lazy, a whiner, or an entitled brat. There’s nothing useful in here for you.

Hits: 2369

Comment on this Post!