The Tough and Good Times in an Internship
An internship is an integral experience you can have in your undergraduate life, bringing about a myriad of benefits like gaining more work experience, establishing industry connections and learning how to be more independent. But it is never an easy experience, especially when work may seem too much to handle or when we are unsure of how to manage certain situations.
As CNM students will have to undergo the Compulsory Internship Programme (NM3550Y) by Year 3, I decided to interview past students who participated in the CIP and gain insight into some of the challenges and highlights of their internship journey.
1. Lack of resources
One of the main challenges that some of our peers faced was the lack of resources, information or industry knowledge. We would expect to be able to apply our theoretical knowledge learned from our modules to real life, but oftentimes, it is not a smooth-sailing journey. What the company needs might not be the knowledge that you have, and some re-learning and upskilling are always required.
For Year 4 CNM student Koko, she had no prior experience in videography although her job required it. Even though she was unfamiliar with videography, she overcame this by learning to be more independent and resourceful, asking her colleagues and searching on the internet for more information regarding video work, to help her bridge the gap between knowledge and skills.
Graduated CNM student Megan also encountered the same challenge where she lacked the industry knowledge, working at Evia Real Estate. While she was unfamiliar with the industry, she overcame this by networking with others in different departments and raising questions during meetings. Sometimes, the best way to help yourself is to ask questions!
2. Working under Pressure
The media industry can be a very fast-paced sector, which means working and thinking on your feet and learning to adapt to your surroundings quickly. While some might observe a strict 9-5 work schedule, you may still be called to work overtime to complete projects during an internship. This can bring stress and anxiety to first-time interns, who desire to perform well but not crack under pressure.
Year 4 CNM student Erica found herself working under pressure when she was working as a Marketing Communications Intern. As her job scope included a variety of tasks including content creation, copywriting and liaising with designing and video agencies, she often felt overwhelmed and flustered. However, with time and familiarity with the job, greater exposure to a variety of situations allowed her to better manage her ability to critically think on her feet. Because of this, she is now much more confident to face obstacles even when working under pressure.
3. Working from Home
With the COVID-19 pandemic being prolonged for close to 3 years now, work-from-home (WFH) internships have become commonplace. While this means working in the comfort of your home and no traveling costs incurred, WFH can be a challenge to some. Lesser social interaction with colleagues and not being in the office may deter one from learning important and essential social skills, picking up work skills and asking questions.
Working as an intern sports reporter, Year 3 CNM student Zachary found that WFH made it a steep learning curve for him, receiving little guidance due to the internship being fully online. Asking questions and learning how to work on the job was something that Zachary had to navigate on his own, becoming more independent and resourceful in his internship.
Year 4 CNM student Vivian also found that WFH was a challenge as it was difficult to bond with her fellow colleagues and learn about the company culture. However, with regular team bonding games online and arranging to meet on Friday afternoons, Vivian found it easy to ask questions as her colleagues and supervisors were very patient and guided her through the process.
It may seem that stepping into an internship is daunting especially with all these challenges placed in front of you. But it can also be a time of growth, maturity and fun! At the end of the day, it is what you make of it.
1. Relationships with Colleagues
Most of our peers found that the most memorable instances were the relationships and bonds formed with their colleagues. For Erica, she felt really fortunate to have colleagues that were helpful and fun-loving. They gave her much career-related advice and even arranged meetups to celebrate each other’s birthdays! Such long-lasting work relationships are hard to come by and should be treasured at the end of your internship journey.
Vivian also found that she was able to connect with colleagues who were around the same age as her in her stint as a content creator intern. Having supervisors who were nice and encouraging, it is no wonder she enjoyed her internship so much!
2. Practical Experiences
One of the main highlights of an internship is gaining real, practical experiences. For almost all of the student interns, attending shoots in companies, being able to meet local celebrities and going down on-site to get reaction stories were some of the few experiences that concretized their practical learning experiences.
Undertaking hands-on tasks can be a very exciting experience, as it was for Koko, who was able to go for video shoots and set up videography equipment, seeing how her theoretical knowledge came to life in reality.
3. Seeing the Company Grow
Interning in a company for 5 months can be a very rewarding experience. As an intern who will work in the company for almost half a year, you will not only understand how to work on certain tasks, but also get to see the company evolve, grow and expand through your work. Being part of that difference is truly something fulfilling to witness.
For Year 4 CNM student Ashrita, she worked as a Client Success intern in a real estate start-up agency. While attending a meeting that laid out her company’s vision and values to set the work ethic for future employees, she was inspired to be able to witness the beginnings of growth for her company and was grateful for such a rare opportunity given to her.
An internship experience is not without its highs and lows. With these insights from the interviews I gained from students of CNM, while the challenges seemed overwhelming and tough to handle at first, many of them pressed on and rose to the occasion, learning some important skills along the way.
If you are unsure how to begin your CIP journey, always remember to apply to companies early and widely. Self-sourcing internships was one of the ways seniors secured an internship if you find that you want more options other than those found on TalentConnect. More importantly, take each day as an opportunity to grow and learn and worry less about your performance. Every day is a reason to try again!
At the end of it all, an internship is a great learning experience that you can embark on to develop yourself, realizing that there are many takeaways that you can gain to make it worth it.