By Lily and Charmain
Fresh from our Project Work Oral Presentations, we stepped into Skillseed to embark on an exciting internship for three weeks. It was both our first time interning at a social enterprise. Here’s a short snippet of our insights, gained from stepping out and learning outside of the usual classroom!
When I thought of interning at a social enterprise, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. Maybe taking part in the Experiential Learning Programmes (ELP)? Or helping to plan a Training session? That was what I had imagined in my mind, from the information I had read on Skillseed’s website prior to the internship stint. Shortly after joining, however, I found out that my task list was rather different from what I had imagined. Let’s start from the beginning – I was tasked with reorganising Skillseed’s foreign currency. Aside from the satisfaction of sorting everything neatly, it helped me experience the more nitty-gritty, admin side of running a social enterprise, and a company in general. I think some people may have a rose-tinted view of social enterprises, or get caught up in the more exciting aspects of it, but I learnt that it’s just like any other company, with finances and administrative tasks to do! It was also really heartening to learn that small tasks can have a big impact – the foreign currency sorting task that I was managing eventually led to Skillseed revamping their foreign currency organising system!
Another item on my task list was the research project – there are many pages on Skillseed’s website about existing courses, but definitely none about the research that went behind it. I learnt from first-hand experience that the latter is surprisingly difficult; I did research on cultural sustainability in Malacca, expecting to find information directly related to it. However, the resources that I found online were saturated with tourist attractions. This made me think about all the research and work that goes behind the crafting of Skillseed’s ELPs, as well as the value of the partnerships they have with local organisations – a local would inherently know more about the culture and history of the place.
This brings me back to the theme of our article – learning outside of the classroom. As a student looking through a company’s website, I obviously wouldn’t have known about the less glamorous, behind-the-scenes work. I feel that having experienced this for myself through the job taught me about the importance of these seemingly boring tasks, as well as how one can unexpectedly learn a lot just by keeping an open mind! Needless to say, these on-the-job experiences and insights – from the aforementioned admin and research to other things I did during the internship, like design and learning more about social enterprises – cannot be gleaned from a classroom setting in school. Who would have guessed- I became a practitioner of the experiential learning that Skillseed champions, right in the office.
As a student with not much working experience, my impression of a “boss” was largely shaped by television shows I watched and books I read. I remember thinking to myself on the way to Skillseed on my first day of internship, “Are the bosses in the company going to be like the typical stereotypes they show in movies - intimidating and cold? Will I even get the chance to interact with them?” I was pleasantly surprised by the reality, and even got an interesting pep talk on love and marriage from one of them (no points for guessing who).
Getting to interact with both of Skillseed’s Directors, Huijia and Wilson was undoubtedly one of the biggest takeaways from my internship. This came at quite a pivotal point in my schooling life, as I am still trying to figure out what kind of career I want to take on in the future, especially since I’m going to graduate from Junior College in a year and feel the pressure to decide. Having the honourable opportunity to talk to both Huijia and Wilson and watch them at work gave me a glimpse of what it is like to run a company, and the decisions that come along with it. Moreover, they were both very open and willing to share about their working experiences. What I found most important however, was what it takes to be a person with a good work ethic. One of the most memorable moments I had was when Huijia shared her thoughts on entitlement, and how it is important that people should not feel and act as if they were entitled to things, but instead show gratitude and humility. That made me ponder: what good would it be if I did finally figure out my ideal career choice, but was a worker with a bad attitude?
Other valuable interactions and lessons gathered directly from experienced bosses, ranging from how to address emails when writing in a job application to the importance of using the right and appropriate terms in speech, are definitely rare to find in a school classroom setting. Granted, stepping out of school and embarking on this internship was an exciting learning experience!
We’re really grateful to Skillseed for giving both of us this internship opportunity, and we have honestly learnt so much from our time there! It was a well-spent three weeks, filled with the cozy office vibes, a friendly team, and valuable learning out of the classroom. :)