I have completed 2 full summer internships during the undergraduate years. I am going to undertake my fourth year this coming semester and am about to enjoy the final week of my last ever summer holidays. Here’s a look at both internships.
Summer 2012: SingHealth – Centre for Health Services Research
This internship was a close match to my preferences. The environment, management styles, colleagues, job scope, nearly everything matched the attributes I require in order to perform optimally. I was involved in over 10 projects that spanned analyzing and handling data, primary research for grant proposals and design. This broad span took full advantage of my capabilities. As you would expect, I had a great time there. I like multitasking, balancing and optimizing workloads, finding flexible and modular solutions to problems and executing tasks at speed. My job scope here revolved around all of the above.
There was also great personal satisfaction because this was firmly rooted within the healthcare realm. I felt that what I was doing would directly make things better for patients and their families. I have a pretty large exposure to Singapore’s healthcare because of my physically handicapped parents (Polio), my dad’s minor heart attack, mom’s common chronic illnesses (high blood pressure, hypertension, cholesterol, diabetes) and also a scalding incident. On top of that, I’ve personally undergone two operations to correct sinus and tonsil issues. It would not be an understatement to say I know SGH pretty well.
My main role there was to learn and utilize economic concepts in health services research. One of my projects was a cost effectiveness analysis of end stage renal failure treatments. Another project was demand projection for a large upcoming healthcare facility. It was both fun and satisfying to see economic concepts in action and knowing that what you do is directly making the lives of others better. Maybe, that is the main draw of medicine. Maybe, if I was ever interested in Chemistry, I would have thought about being a medical doctor. Never mind, I hated Chemistry, heh.
On top of that, I was introduced to very tasty Lor Mee, awesome Roasted Pork rice and an excellent ‘Ze Char’ restaurant. So both the head and the belly went home happy.
The only downside was the lack of facilities. SingHealth seems to be moving all offices over to Connection One and Connection One is where the old HDB offices are. It’s not pretty but its fully functional. Don’t expect gyms and all that fancy stuff. It didn’t matter though, the working environment and colleagues more than made up for that.
After working at over 5 different companies, I must say this was the most fun I had. Good academic and productive fun.
Summer 2011: Ministry of Trade and Industry – The Economist Service
After my second year, I decided to try get an internship to see how things were like in the Civil Service. I was fortunate to be offered a spot at the Economist Service at the Ministry of Trade and Industry. The ES is basically a special branch of academic economists who have their own specialties. While at the ES, they monitor and handle things like GDP projection, employment figures and also inform policy decisions with the research that they have done. On top of that, I was told that the ES sends out their economists to assist other ministries in advisory roles. Nearly everyone there was a scholar and many of them were from top universities from US and UK. As mentioned earlier, I was pretty lucky to get in without personal connections.
As a year 2 student, I was involved in just one project. Quite a large one that involved collecting plenty of local data with regards to labor. We spent a full 3 months on that. I had my internship extended by about a month where I would come back every Friday to ensure that the project was completed well. I was also working in a sizeable team of interns. There were about 6-7 of us and it was fun to work with peers (a good number of them seniors) at around your age. You can expect that most of the side talk was about school.
A big part of the project that appealed to my skills was that we were free to reorganize and optimize the processes. If you haven’t got the idea from my Summer 2012 write up, I love optimizing processes to achieve results with as little effort as possible. Heck, you can call it lazy but I absolutely like doing stuff like this.
ES had the same flexible management style and I was given plenty of freedom as long I got my job done well. It did feel more formal than my other working experiences but that went fine. Being very professional and thus coming off as formal is a key element in ensuring a smooth process.
Because the ES is located at The Treasury, lunch was filled with good food. But with an intern’s allowance, that was a killer. A big portion of the allowance was spent on food. (Tip: The Chicken Rice there is REALLY JAW DROPPINGLY good). Also, it was situated next to Funan which appealed to the tech side of me. There was also a gym on the same floor as the ES which I made full use of in my final month there.
All in all, MTI’s ES provided me with a good experience in my first ever internship.
Other Work Experiences
When you come from a low income family, your holidays are chances to make that extra bit of money to support both your family and yourself. Holiday jobs were common for me.
The company that I worked for repeated spells at was at Stalford. Earlier, I had worked at Jurong HiTech twice in both production and administrative roles. Before that I had a very short spell at Singapore Discovery Centre which was a 2 week industrial attachment during my secondary school years. All of them were largely good experiences that exposed me to a wide range of working environments, types of bosses and colleagues.
Of course, no NSF will forget the 2 years of serving the nation. My vocation was administrative and so it was more of a full time job than a military service for me.
I also have the pleasure of working on two entrepreneurial start-ups with my friends at both Will Events and museCrowd. The later is our current focus and is shaping up well.
These jobs together with the leadership roles I took on at work and in school were key to the person I am today. Many of my ideals and beliefs about work were constructed from these experiences. I believe that being exposed to work early is important. For better or for worse, work is very different from school and I am fortunate to have been given a wide range of experiences.
The very next time I hunt for a job would probably be for my first permanent job. I’m looking forward to it. Just a year more in school and I’ll begin the next stage of my life. Exciting.