Jumping Right In: Conversations with Students on Short-Term Internships (STI)

By the Dato’ Kho Hui Meng Career Centre 

When the winter term break began, several SMU students took the time and opportunity to develop themselves abroad through the Short-Term Internship Programme (STI) offered by the Dato’ Kho Hui Meng Career Centre. We last caught up with them before their departure, and they have since begun their internships in their respective companies and countries. This time, we chat with Jasper, Zixuan, Calista and Brian again to find out how their Short-Term Internships have been going.


What do you do on a day-to-day basis at your internship? Are there any interesting projects you’ve taken on?

Jasper: My life as an intern in Katadata is both enriching and enjoyable. Some interesting assignments I have been working on include those from my supervisor Naya, who tasked us to map out strategies on how the different business units within Katadata can be optimised further to achieve Objective Key Results (OKRs). We were also tasked with assisting their event management division on the planning of green collaborations in 2023.

Zixuan: As an intern, a day at work typically involves monitoring different digital assets and conducting both market and product research on local competitors. Quite notably, my company was acquired during the course of my internship. It had been an unexpected development!


Brian on site visits and in the office with his colleagues at Leong Lee


Brian: In my internship, I have been involved in coming up with an optimised plan for the company’s future business operations. One memorable project was the Wind Tower Generator project where my team was tasked to come up with an optimised timeline and plan for the pre-assembly, transportation and installation of 33 Wind Towers in the offshore area of Bac Lieu province in Vietnam. As a student majoring in Smart City Management and Technology, the topic of sustainability is something I am deeply enthusiastic about and I am proud to be a part of this journey in the development of Wind Energy.

Calista: I work on building data analysis tools for We Food to better understand their sales and purchases. WeFood is preparing for the Tết Lunar New Year and is in the midst of a peak sales period, which I am involved in to provide analysis and insights. My colleagues are friendly and really funny, and they brought me around to eat and look around the city a few times!


Were there any surprises about the workplace or the culture so far?

Jasper: The culture here is vastly different from Singapore’s hustle culture. In Katadata, people are more concerned about you as a whole person than just a co-worker. I’ve learnt so much from my colleagues and they introduced me to various new foods that I didn’t even know existed before. It is clear that Indonesians prioritise relationships – people here are amazing and I will definitely miss them!

Zixuan: While both my current and previous internships incorporated a mobile working arrangement, the work-from-home experience in my previous internship in Singapore was more intense, with back-to-back Zoom calls and daily check-ins. In my current internship, my supervisors and co-workers meet once or twice a week to update each other on our progress. As an intern, I was assigned tasks to be completed in my own time, which gave me much more flexibility.

Brian: Working in Vietnam was certainly a different experience, as my job does not solely involve working from the office but also going down to the operation site and witnessing how various processes work. In terms of commuting to work, it’s quite different as rather than making use of public transport, I need to depend on ride-hailing services!

Calista: A major surprise was the proportion of young people in the office. Most of my coworkers are in their early twenties, which creates a different and casual working dynamic that I enjoy.


So far, what’s your favorite thing to do over in Indonesia and Vietnam?


Jasper visited the Tangkuban Perahu, one of Indonesia’s active volcanoes


Jasper: This is a difficult one to answer, because there have been so many new and exciting experiences for me. If I had to choose, hiking at popular volcanoes and mountains and exploring new cafes have got to be my two favorite things to do in Jakarta. I went to Tangkuban Perahu over the weekends and got to take in so many breathtaking sights that I could have only dreamt of back in Singapore. I also took the opportunity to explore cafes around Jakarta, especially since there were so many to choose from. The most memorable one for me as a dog lover was the dog cafe I visited in Pluit called Dog Ministry, where there were so many cute dogs for me to interact and take photos with!


Zixuan’s view as she WFC (works from cafes)

Hunting for cafes (to work in)! Cafes in Jakarta are often tucked away in the cityscape and require a bit of searching. Personally, it was very interesting to explore Indonesia’s streets where make-shift housing and skyscrapers existed side-by-side.


Brian and his peers out and about exploring Vietnam


Brian: During my free time, I often explore the different attractions in Ho Chi Minh City and visiting other note-worthy attractions outside Ho Chi Minh City. The highlight of my trip was the visit to the White Sand Dunes in Mui Ne as it offers one of the most breathtaking views that I have ever come across.


The plentiful food Calista got to try while in Vietnam.


Calista: My favorite activity would definitely be taking the Grab motorbikes around – I love feeling the wind and the speed, especially on highways. I also like that there is food on almost every street, and how casual everyone is about chilling and drinking coffee at 11pm!



Learn more about the SMU Short-Term Internship Programme here