A Blessing in Disguise
It was a funny story about how I landed an internship position at ResumeWriter SG. What was supposed to be a failed job application turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
Initially, I had applied for a freelance writer position at the company. I then received an email that kick-started my 5-step application process. After submitting all the required assessments, they promised to get back to me about my application.
The Long Wait
After more than a month of waiting, it was only logical to assume that I had failed the final assessment. Recruiters tend to ghost on applicants they are uninterested in or those who’ve failed the selection process. Much to my surprise, I received an email from the human resource manager, asking me if I would be willing to take on an internship with the company.
Hiring an intern was a completely foreign idea to them, and they weren’t sure if it would be worth it as it would only be a month’s commitment. Nonetheless, after much discussion, they decided to give this internship a shot.
Later on, I learnt the reason behind my “failed application”. I was inexperienced due to my age as they were looking for experienced corporate managers or fresh graduates at the very least. However, my answers to the assessments had left such a deep impression on the recruiter that she decided to explore the internship with me because they saw potential in me.
According to the recruiter, there were a few reasons why I stood out from the other promising candidates who are professionals in their field. Firstly, she admired my courage to apply for a role meant for professionals, and not fresh graduates or even pre-university students. Secondly, despite my young age, the language I used and the way I put my answers together were what caught her attention. Thirdly, it was my enthusiasm for the role through email. (the cover letter that I wrote left a good first impression) Just to share a little more without giving away too much, one of the assessments was a mock trial case.
The Culture Shock
As a first-year polytechnic student with no prior internship experience, I was unsure how everything was going to turn out. The internship lasted for a month, for two days each week.
Things didn’t start on a good note. ResumeWriter operates remotely, which means email communication becomes even more important. As Gen Zs, the texting culture is rooted in us. It took me quite a while to get adjusted to the email culture at the firm.
I received warm welcomes via email from the team and the CEO himself. However, I was oblivious that it was rude to reply and express my excitement for the internship at the very least. Not replying to emails promptly is a big no-no, and is something that you should avoid doing at all costs. No matter how busy you are, it is not an excuse to not reply. After all, typical email replies are only a few sentences long.
Accepting the Harsh Words
Whenever my mentors asked me about my objectives for the internship, I would give vague answers which gave the impression of an uninterested and distant intern. Towards the end of my first week of internship, I had an impromptu video call with the talent acquisition manager, who was also the one who brought up the idea of having me as an intern.
Although the call was said to be a regular check-in call, I knew something was wrong. Thankfully, the call was nothing too serious, and it was more like two friends having a chit-chat session rather than a lecture session by the supervisor.
During the call, the manager shared with me about the feedback my mentors gave regarding my performance for the week—the only bad thing would be that I was on the slow side when working on the tasks. However, the accuracy of the information filled in was on point.
She also mentioned my lack of enthusiasm when interacting with my mentors—I seemed distant, so they became unsure if the internship was what I truly wanted. As a result, they were unable to connect with me as an individual and started to doubt their decision to hire me.
The call ended on a heavy note. The last comment was that I sounded sleepy whenever I took on calls with the team. That was something that I felt helpless about.
The Struggle Was Real
During my first day helping out at the Marketing team, I took up the entire 3 hours to work on the assigned task. With less than half of the task completed, my progress was unsatisfactory as it would take half of the time if someone internal did it instead.
Having spent the 3 hours solely working on the task with no breaks, I felt discouraged. I was assigned to search up the respective career portals for tertiary institutions in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Malaysia. Searching for career portals in Singapore was relatively easy since I am familiar with the tertiary institutions in Singapore.
However, I struggled with the Malaysia portion as I wasn’t familiar with the tertiary education institutions in Malaysia. I did not have time to complete the Hong Kong portion of the task. Although my mentor did not mention anything about my speed at the end of the day, I knew my progress was slow, and I wanted to do better than that.
The second day of my internship wasn’t any better. I was attached to the Operations team, and the task assigned was to search up the LinkedIn profiles for senior personnel of the top headhunters in Singapore.
That was also a struggle for me as I did not have many connections on LinkedIn, which prevented me from viewing most of the senior personnel’ profiles on LinkedIn under their company page. As a result, I did not complete the assigned task within the 3 hours, and I felt even more discouraged. As an intern, I wanted to contribute as much as I could to the team, but I felt like a burden instead.
What I did to overcome the barrier and make up for the lack of contribution was to be more proactive and ask smart, focused questions.
I would ask in-depth questions such as what role the operations team play in a company, their job scope, and why do certain marketing strategies work instead of the others.
Tips and Tricks for Resumes and Cover Letters
During my internship, I picked up a few tips and tricks along the way on writing resumes and cover letters for job applications. I am not allowed to go into detail about how to write outstanding resumes and cover letters as it is strictly confidential. However, I can share some general tips which will help add a little touch to your existing resumes and cover letters.
- For Resumes
Introduce yourself within one sentence. Think of it as your personal branding, and it is one way to stand out from other applicants. Highlight your achievements in your previous positions and include metrics whenever possible. Go straight to the point when mentioning your job scope and avoid fluff when mentioning achievements.
- For Cover Letters
One of the biggest misconceptions I have heard about cover letters is that they are a waste of time and we shouldn’t bother writing them. I was one of those who thought that cover letters weren’t necessary and that my resume was what would help me get my dream job. One of the biggest takeaways from my internship is that a resume and a cover letter make a complete set when applying for jobs. With either one of them absent or not written properly, it would lower my chances of scoring that job interview.
Tips For a Pleasant Internship Experience
For those who are planning to take on internships or are taking on specifically remote internships, here are some tips for a smooth sailing internship experience and to make the best out of the internship.
Communication is key, especially when you are working from home. Since you do not get to interact with your teammates as much compared to working in the office, the way you put words across online now forms your colleagues’ first impression of you. I would say try to sound as enthusiastic as you can, and adding in a few smiley faces :) and exclamation marks along the way to sound less formal and more approachable.
Don’t be too discouraged and take the harsh comments to heart. The main idea of you taking on an internship is to learn and get a gist of how the real working world is like. It is perfectly fine to make a few mistakes along the way, as long as you don’t commit those mistakes again. Don’t beat yourself up simply because you’ve received an awful comment about your performance at work—let it sink in and work on it, I promise it will leave a fairly good impression when you decided to work on your weaknesses.
The Verdict: Was The Internship Worth It?Overall, I did not regret taking on an internship with ResumeWriter. Although short, it was a fruitful experience. For students like me who have yet to step into the corporate world, internships are an excellent way to test the waters and get a feel of how an industry operates.
I would recommend students to apply for internships and grab hold of as many opportunities as you can before you graduate and step into the real working world. While it is no secret that interns earn significant lesser than their counterparts who hold full-time positions, internships are still the way to go to build relevant experience and portfolio when you are just an inexperienced undergraduate.
It has only been a month since I left ResumeWriter SG, and I’m already missing the entire internship experience. The internship experience has definitely boosted my resume and helped me land several job interviews.
As of now, I am currently actively searching for another remote internship that can fit well with my school schedule. There were so many instances where I had to reject a successful application simply because I was unable to commit to a full-time internship.
And if you were to ask me, I would never trade my internship experience for something else. This first internship that I took up will always hold a special place in my heart.