Life At A Startup: 5 Interns Tell All

From people posting online about 12-hour work days to late payments, internships with startups seem like a modern-day horror story waiting to be told. In truth, an internship with a startup can teach you valuable soft skills like self discipline and workplace communication. You’ll also get to glimpse into the youthful entrepreneurship environment that powers 99% of Singapore’s enterprise and employs 70% of our workforce. We talked to 5 interns across a few industries to get a fairer picture of startup culture at large. Intern #1 – New Media/Publishing Duration of internship: 3 months What You Did: I created video content for the company’s social media channels, which I operated at times. Problems You Faced: As I had creative freedom to make the videos, I had to figure out how to get the videos to become shareable and go viral, with my supervisor only being able to advise me from the position of a viewer. Deepest Impression about the Internship: I got to meet a lot of new people from a variety of backgrounds and work together with them in order to create video content. The media environment is one that constantly changes, and every person in the company still work well together in spite of having totally different roles. What You Learned: I learnt a lot about how the media industry works – a tightly knit network of data, deadlines and just a lot of work put in. I now have a good idea of what exactly goes on behind the scenes of social media pages and publishing companies, and about how people work and how content gets generated. Advice to Potential Interns: It is quite an enjoyable experience being able to work in a startup. You’ll learn a lot through interactions with full-timers and upper management, and feel that you contribute directly to the running of the company! Intern #2- e-Commerce / Retail Duration of Internship: 6 weeks What You Did: I was in charge of processing online orders to prepare for packaging and posting. I felt like a cog in a machine. Problems You Faced: The work was quite monotonous and there was a lot of pressure to keep with the orders coming in through the day. In addition, the higher ups were not committed to helping the interns develop skills or experience. Deepest Impression About The Internship: Working alongside with people who had the same job struggles as I did. Having people with the same struggles does help tide you through, even more so because two of them were my friends. What You Learned: Working in a new start-up is messy and definitely not glamorous. Overall the experience of the internship was negative but I would say that it was very humbling as well because it gives you a glimpse of the grunt work one has to go through (i.e. being a uni undergraduate doesn’t guarantee you some cushy office job in town.) Advice To Potential Interns: Don’t be complacent when searching for internships! My internship was not a particularly positive experience. On hindsight, I should have looked harder for other opportunities and not have been so quick to settle for that internship. Intern #3 – Market Research/Intelligence Duration of Internship: 1 year What You Did: I was placed in the research department, where my supervisor and I produced market reports for international clients entering China, or domestic clients (China) wishing to enter Singapore. On the side, I also worked with the marketing director to handle the English social media channels along with the marketing team. Problems Faced: I think many students like me expect a startup internship to be fun and constantly exciting, but often it’s just plain old hard work, and we should be prepared for that too. For my company, manpower was lacking and I had to do multiple tasks. The period of time where my company was undergoing transition caused many operations to become tedious or difficult. Every day was spent solving problems and getting used to new procedures, and I came home exhausted. We came out of the transition alive, but it took a few long difficult months to get there, and I learnt so much through it. Deepest Impression about the Internship: Toward the end of my internship, I got to present my market report together with my supervisor to our client Mediacorp. It was pretty nerve-wrecking, but my supervisor later told me it was well-received. Other than that, the people I met through my startup experience were pretty amazing. They were all so creative, hardworking and talented. One was an impressive Chinese lady who learnt English and became an Airbnb mogul. What You Learned: My COO taught me a lot about the company and industry quirks through anecdotes, like how pitches are really won and how to deal with bad clients. He personally cared a lot about his staff, and I feel that’s the best a leader can do. Another learning experience was when we had a problem with data, and my supervisor changed the way I thought about the problem. He shared his work experiences with me and that’s something school cannot teach. Advice to Potential Interns: Would advise people to go in more mentally prepared, especially with startups from China! I think your attitude and motivation (to constantly seek answers, push things forward) determines what you get out of the internship. Intern #4 – Advertising Duration of Internship: 3 Months What You Did: Write SEO articles ranging from walls of text that included the repetition of compulsory keywords to catchy, easy-to-read, listicle or listicle-type articles for external sites in exchange for link juice. Problems Faced: Dealing with the initial dismay over the type of writing assignments, which conflicted with what I personally thought the work of a “writer” should be like. And after coming to terms with SEO writing – dealing with the mundanely of it (repetition, superficiality, click-bait shite, again and again and again). Deepest Impression About The Internship: The insane amounts of free snacks, going out for lunches with my department boss, who was very generous with his life/career advice to the young interns. Frequent cups of free Starbucks for the entire office, prepared according to your preferences, delivered. Writing silly, couldn’t be more clickbait shite articles while vocalising the thought and writing process (i.e. What Your Favorite Pringles Flavour Says About You). What You Learned: I learnt quite a lot about the entire industry, with quite a number of staff having come from e-commerce companies and sharing their expertise. Start-up culture was exciting and different and being surrounded by so many young people was a change from typical office environments. Meetings were conducted differently, language was casual, dresscode was casual – but still there was that seriousness and awareness that such an environment was a privilege and an encouragement to make something big out of it. Advice to Potential Interns: I was lucky enough to have normal working hours 9-6 but the other departments like marketing and the tech team really had their work cut out for them, going home as late as 9/10. Still, it was a great experience. Sure beats interning at some lameass dead government ministry with sad middle aged ladies who watch K-dramas. Intern #5 – Gaming Duration of Internship: 1 year What You Did: Writing gaming news articles, conducting interviews with developers, writing game reviews and editing all of the above. Problems You Faced: Being self-motivated as a remote intern. Hours were clearly stated and performance was only captured by the number of published content. Pictures had to be ripped out from online sources, and trying to credit people properly for pictures made for most of the hassle. Trying to create reader-friendly content with zero feedback from readers and editing own content to make sure it’s correct. Deepest Impression About The Internship: Being accepted as a media member at the Nanyang Championships. I never expected nearly 8 months of work in a corner of the internet to be recognized and later acknowledged by the people who organized the event. It was great to finally be able to go and cover an event as a media person, and having to go alone made it all the more memorable as it felt as if I worked hard for all these months to get there. What You Learned: I learnt the importance of meticulous editing. If a copy has mistakes, it makes people less willing to read through heavy content. In gaming, the core audience respects professional work, and more so consistency in producing professional-quality work. Having to hang in there and motivate myself taught me how to pace myself with the next week in mind so that I can keep producing strong content for people to read. Advice to Potential Interns: Have fun at your internship. It was fun working remotely with people in Sweden as their nascent writing culture made it as if we were all struggling together in order to produce better and better content. I could feel myself improving together with the team and looking back on the content today I can see the clear jump in quality just because we had a positive mindset and were willing to improve. Source-vulcanpost For further assistance related to Internship related queries in India, Dubai or Singapore, please visit:


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