12 Tips to Survive (And Ace!) Your Compulsory Internship Program: Part 2
Updated: Mar 21
Welcome back, young padawan, for it is time for another round of tips and tricks that will help you not only survive your CIP, but also ace it! This is a continuation from Part 1 here.
How to Make the Most Out of Your Internship
#6 C • O • L • L • E • A • G • U • E • S
Hip, hip, hooray for securing your internship! That is the first step to conquering this battle known as the CIP. To make the most of your internship and learn more, you have to first become acquainted with your colleagues.
‘But I’m here to learn more skills! Why do I need to make F•R•I•E•N•D•S?’
Ah, ah, ah – that is where you are mistaken. After all, not only are your colleagues the ones you interact with the most daily, your colleagues are from all walks of life (literally!) and everyone has a unique set of skills and strengths. By becoming acquainted with the people you work closely with, not only will you learn more from them, you will learn more about yourself as well.
So get to making friends! Jio people around you for lunch, tag along on after-work dinners, join company welfare events, and mingle! You will never know who you will meet, what you will learn from them, and what skills you can pick up. And with how small Singapore is, chances are, you will work alongside some of your colleagues again in the future once you step into the working world.
#7 It’s All About the Money, Money, Money
Wow, internship is great, isn’t it? You get to have a fixed schedule, weekends without work, and you get paid on top of it! You never get paid in school! You’ll be swimming in cash!
Think again: when you’re working and need to fork out a considerable sum of cash for lunch (and tea break… bubble tea break… coffee break… snack break… the list goes on), money can flow out faster than you realise. After all, in school you can turn to your $2.50 Deck Yong Tau Foo, but when you’re interning as a working adult, get ready to start shelling out $5, or even up to $10 per meal depending on the area your company is at.
Pro-tip: Consider meal prepping and bringing food from home when you want to save money!
#8 Tick Tock Tick Tock
Adding on to the next tip – if time is money and you need to manage your money well, then it is a no-brainer that you will need to manage your time well also. With a 9 to 5 job that goes on five days a week, watching webcasts and doing readings for your MOOC(s), socialising with your colleagues and friends, spending time with your family… it is not an exaggeration to say that juggling your time will be an Olympic sport. Factor in the need to OT or work from home during peak periods, juggling time will only get harder if you don’t manage it well.
Always set daily tasks for yourself. Throughout the day, track your tasks and pace yourself with planners or apps.
(Pro tip: use count down apps! I used CountOnly during my internship to keep track of deadlines and events.)
Manage your time well, and by the end of this internship, you will not only have industry-ready skills, you will also learn to maximise your 24-hours a day!
#9 Pick Me, Pick Me!
My boss for my own CIP told me this once: your internship is what you make of it. The wisdom of his words guided me during my 20 weeks, and I still use it to guide my decisions in school and home today. Indeed, your CIP is what you make of it – you could do the bare minimum and go back to school the next semester, or you can take this chance to learn more.
Instead of merely completing the routine tasks your supervisors give you, take initiative! Help your struggling colleagues out, suggest improvements to your supervisors, pitch new ideas as and when inspiration strikes. Even when you have no pending tasks due, there is always something to do (and learn!) at work.
What if you are halfway through your internship and realise that this job or industry is not for you? Don’t be discouraged and take this as a sign to live your days going through the motions! Instead, take this as another learning point: now that you know what you don’t want to venture into upon graduation, consider what other options you have, and go back to school taking modules relevant to your new options accordingly. Explore other industries and consider interning in other job positions during summer and winter. Keep your chin up and no matter what, do not take this CIP as wasted time.
(Psst… look out for our upcoming article about acing that summer internship!)
Ending Your Internship
#10 In A Blink of An Eye…
… 20 weeks have passed. You learnt so much, made so many friends, and with a heavy heart, it’s almost time to say goodbye. But wait! During these 20 weeks, not only have you learnt a lot, you have also done a lot. Do not simply leave your company happily waving goodbye – archive all the things you have done! It is important to have proper documentation of all the things you’ve done during your CIP as it is a testament to your technical skills, as well as a good addition to your portfolio.
Start backing up copies of work you have done before your last day. Bring thumbdrives, harddisks, use Google Drive, whatever gets the job done.
Pro tip: start saving your work 1 – 2 weeks in advance. It looks deceptively simple, but takes a while to filter through 20 weeks’ worth of work!
#11 Don’t Be a Stranger!
Remember how we established that it’s important to make friends with your colleagues and how Singapore is small? Keep contacts before you leave your internship! You will never know when you need to contact someone you worked with before in the future. For myself, before I left my internship, I exchanged Instagram handles with colleagues my age, and connected on LinkedIn with my supervisors.
Leave a good impression and express your gratitude to the people you’ve worked with by bestowing them with little thank you notes! If you want to spoil market for the next batch of interns and leave a deeper impression on your colleagues, you can gift them small tokens of appreciation on your last day.
(Psst… Food is always a safe choice!)
#12 Any Recommendations?
This step is optional, but if you think what you did for your internship is relevant to your future industry, and if you think that your supervisors have a good picture of your skills and strengths, go ahead and ask them to write you a letter of recommendation! They may take a while as they are busy people, so be sure to either tell them in advance, or give them some time to get back to you after you leave.
And this marks the end of this extensive CIP guide! I hope that you have learnt a thing or two, and feel more confident in approaching your upcoming internship. At the end of the day, what is important is to work hard, be sincere, and have fun – and you’ll definitely walk out of your CIP gaining valuable skills and fond memories. Drop a comment if you want more tips or need to clarify anything, and we will try our best to help you. All the best for your internship!