Intern-view: Charles Lu on Toyota Motor Philippines

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 will be introduced by Bea Pelayo, featuring Charles Lu who interned at Toyota Motor Philippines. It’s also extra special as it’s our first ever Intern-view from De La Salle University!

And not just any kind of internship, but an engineering one that took over 11 months of our Intern-viewee’s life

Related: Intern-view: Alvin Jason Bravo on PLDT

Bea: One of the things that makes life fair for everyone is that, no matter who you are or what you do, 24 hours a day is what you’ve got. Different people have different priorities. But at the end of the day, we’re all given the same chance of being as productive as we can be.

For our Intern-view tonight, he makes 24 hours look like 3 days because of how productive he is.

Charles Lu, our first ever Intern-viewee from Taft, is certainly into a lot of things. While talking to Charles, I anticipated that I’d be learning a lot from this guy since he has such grand ambitions. 

As a Manufacturing Engineering student, he’s focused on mechatronics and robotics, but he’s also into agriculture and prosthetics outside of the classroom (aside from everything else that he’s doing, which you’ll learn about in a bit when he introduces himself).

Charles sees an opportunity to improve the agriculture sector of the Philippines, and he plans to contribute in doing so, hoping to better the food supply and prices for the Filipino people starting now.

His thesis team recently finished their reliability run on the red bell pepper harvesting robot that they created. He’s also planning on getting involved with biomedicine soon, given his background in engineering, but that’s for another episode in the future.

I asked how he got interested in robotics, and Charles said it all started when he was a kid, he loved disassembling toys and appliances to see what’s inside.

Then he’d try to bring the pieces back together, which led them to having so much scrap lying around. Machinery and interiors made him curious, and as he grew older, the wonder never faltered.

When he had his high school career orientation 5 years ago, a humanoid robot (a REAL robot!) was brought to their school and he had an epiphany. And that’s how he got into his current studies.

Another thing that struck me was one of Charles’ life principles – going on your own pace. So no matter what others do with their 24 hours, don’t base yours on theirs. Compete with your previous day’s hours.

Enough from me, now on to Charles’ 5 facts about himself, what he envisions as his dream job, and of course, his Intern-view! Thanks for reading and hope Charles wrote something useful for you!

Related: Intern-view: Earl Viray on Nestle Philippines

I’m Charles from De La Salle University – Manila, currently in my 5th term (and last thesis hehe) taking up Bachelor of Science in Manufacturing Engineering, with Management specializing in Mechatronics and Robotics.

As part of my requirements, I performed 1800 hours (yes, almost 11 months) of my required internship in Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation (TMP).


5 Facts About Me

  1. Jack of most trades – I like making beautiful stuff, whether its in writing, in craft, in music or in other things. I studied robotics but I also (self)study agriculture and prosthetics. I am also currently taking notes on sustainability and self-sufficiency. I also enjoy cooking.
  2. Sports enthusiast – I play sports like basketball, bowling and table tennis. Most days I swim. I also have an independent volleyball blog which you can follow: @theTAFTsquad
  3. Soldier of love – ang baduy haha (super corny haha)
  4. My mantra – Kaizen (constant improvement)
  5. I dislike highly competitive people – I just think that people need to go through life at their own pace and be contented with it. I think that there is absolutely no need to compare themselves with other people’s successes or failures to assess their self-worth.

Dream job? Hmmm, there’s actually too much I want to be. Of course, I wanna be a successful manufacturing magnate. I also want to modernize our agriculture sector, have my own robotics school, and own a farm resort. Not exactly in that order haha!

But syempre, that’s gotta be a long journey, so my dream job would be one where I’ll be able to capitalize on my interests.

How did you find and pick this internship?

TMP is currently the biggest automotive manufacturing company in the country, so it kinda makes sense to have my internship. But honestly, it was the first and only company where I submitted my resume!

Related: Intern-view: Arby Cuevas on Globe Telecom

Why did you choose to intern?

Requirements lang talaga hehe! But the official answer would be: we do our internship because we want to learn about things we can never learn in school, like what actually happens in the industry which goes beyond the explanation of formulas and theories.

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

It felt weird since I’m usually on the giving end of interviews and not on the receiving end, and job interviews are way different. I didn’t prepare for my internship interview (ideally, you should right?) because I wanted to answer as truthfully as possible. (Thankfully, the HR saw me fit to work with Toyota!)

Related: I did something dumb in the past, will it haunt my job hunt? – #DearTBC


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

At the very least, I knew I needed to have good interpersonal skills – how I’d have to interact with different people in varying stages of life. I never knew I’d be assigned to the Purchasing Engineering Department, since talking to people wasn’t my strong suit.

But the HR assigned me to Purchasing probably either because she saw that that aspect was where I needed to train more or because she saw something in me that I haven’t discovered yet. Either way, I had to suck it up. Having been in Purchasing, I had to talk to a lot of suppliers, so eventually, I learned.

I definitely learned a lot! I learned how to manage my time properly. I learned how to make concept papers, how to handle projects and events. I learned how to work responsibly and efficiently to manage the expectations of my superiors.

With Toyota being in Sta. Rosa (Laguna) and my place of residence being in Manila, I also had to take long commutes. You can say that I used the “free time” (free nga ba coz trapped naman sa traffic) to aimlessly think of various things I wanted to do like (see question about dream job).

Eventually nagsawa din sa (I got sick of the) commute, so we rented a house near the work place, and that’s where I learned my life skillz. (Like cooking, budgeting for groceries, fixing myself some good breakfast hehe)

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

I always thought that 1800 hours of internship would be too long. I was worried to be stuck in a place where I thought I would be undervalued or underappreciated.

Good thing I thought wrong! Because I had lopsided expectations, I was thrilled to be working on every task since everything was new to me.

Related: Intern-view: Nicole Wong on Christian Dior


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?

I was assigned to Purchasing Engineering, Supply Chain Management Section. So sa section-level, we inspect suppliers in aspects like Safety, Quality, Delivery, Environment and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Pag dating ko, I was assigned to CSR and I was assigned to handle the Conflict Minerals Declaration of the suppliers. (Gist: Toyota-Japan in cooperation with US SEC wanted to know if we source materials from Congo. And since Congo supplies firearms, we may be indirectly funding wars).

I was lucky because the foundations for the project were already laid out so I just had to ask and study the details. Eventually, I was asked to handle the Environment activities such as ISO14001 Certification Compliance and CO2 Emission Reduction (Ideally madali lang ‘to dapat pero hassle yung suppliers, ayaw magcomply). I also supported in other SCM activities just so I can maximize the internship.

Overall, during my stay, hindi lang naman puro paperworks. Sometimes, I had to go with my superiors to the suppliers’ plants to inspect sila in terms of Supply Chain Management requirements.

Other times may mga events which I’d host, or sometimes report the status of my activities, or be part of the organizing/planning stage.

I was also asked to conceptualize and oversee a new project called “Bulb-Eater Expansion”as part of CSR/Environment activities. (Bulb-Eater refers to the machine which crushes fluorescent lamps wherein mercury is prevented from seeping to the environment by encapsulating said mercury). Complete experience!

Related: Where to Find Jobs in Manila?

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

Being trusted to handle big activities!

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

Can’t think of any, honestly. Just the long commute but it turned out to work in my favor naman.

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?

Take it one day a time. 1800 hours may seem long but its not if you treat every single day as a learning experience.


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


Related: I’m waiting for graduation, what do you think about me interning? – #DearTBC

What would you say was your greatest learning from interning?

Can’t pinpoint which one exactly because they’re all in the same level of importance.

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

Two things: First, treat your internship both as a job and a great learning field, but not as a chore.

Remember that you are interning to gain valuable experience which would equip you with skills that you will need in the corporate world. I remember having friends with lackluster performance since their mindset is that they are not being compensated enough.

While this may be true, remember that you are having your internship not as a money-making opportunity but as an opportunity to learn.

Second is unorthodox, but it worked for me: grab every opportunity even if you don’t know how to do it. You can always learn about it later. It’s always a win-win situation this way: you go beyond your comfort zone and further expand your capacity.

You get a great learning experience, you always have something to do, you maximize your internship PLUS the hours go by quicker this way!

Related: 10 Things We Learned At Unilever Business Week 2016


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

Hey guys, thank you for reading! If you’re interested in learning more about my internship, you can always find me on FB!

And if by any chance we share the same interests in robotics, electronics, crafting, gardening or self-sufficiency/sustainability, maybe we can work on future projects!

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~

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About Justine

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

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