Overseas Virtual Internship Programme: Opening Doors to a Career of the Future

By the SMU Dato’ Kho Hui Meng Career Centre

The pandemic has resulted in the cancellation or indefinite postponement of countless overseas learning trips, much to the dismay of many. However, Year 4 SMU School of Accountancy student Tan Shu Min did not let the current global circumstance dash her dream of an overseas internship. In April 2021, Shu Min decided to go ahead with her internship plans by embarking on an Overseas Virtual Internship Programme (OVIP) offered by the Dato’ Kho Hui Meng Career Centre (DKHMCC).

Despite not being able to live in a different country, Shu Min does not think she received any less global exposure. Instead, she firmly believes that the new perspectives and ideas gained from interacting with people of different cultures, even via Zoom, are valuable for both personal and career growth. Besides, Shu Min anticipates that hybrid working will become part of the norm in this Covid-19-transformed world, so why not try out this new mode of working now?

Shu Min chose to do her OVIP with Bali-based property management startup Bukit Vista as a Human Resource (HR) Intern. The company’s internship listing really stood out for Shu Min, and she resonated strongly with the startup’s core values, such as ‘Don’t Assume, Use Data’, ‘Be the Hero’ and ‘Details Matter’. Bukit Vista’s fun yet dedicated approach to hospitality also struck a chord with Shu Min, who majors in Organisational Behaviour and Human Resource.

“When researching Bukit Vista, I came across their YouTube channel and saw how they were purpose-driven to positively transform people by offering many learning opportunities,” says Shu Min.

 

Seizing daily opportunities to grow: sharpening existing skills and gaining new ones

As a HR Intern at Bukit Vista, Shu Min was able to choose a HR function to focus on. She decided to be involved in the selection process of the hiring of Bukit Vista’s Product Development team. This role required Shu Min to screen resumes, contact candidates, follow up with assessors, and schedule and conduct interviews with candidates.

 

Shu Min and her colleagues at a virtual farewell party / Photo Credit: Tan Shu Min

 

Besides her responsibilities in recruitment, Shu Min would regularly check in with her teammates via the different team applications to ensure their well-being and that team projects were going smoothly. Whenever she could, she would avail herself to contribute to discussions, as well as gather feedback for improvement or questions to clarify. Participating in various department meetings gave Shu Min a better understanding of the business model, sharpening her overall business acumen. She was also involved in creating the Employee Engagement Survey, as well as conducting one-on-one sessions with other interns to check in on them.

Apart from Bukit Vista’s daily operations, Shu Min had the opportunity to develop her technological aptitude – a skill highly sought after in HR candidates. Based on a project she had initially proposed during her internship trial programme, Shu Min created a system together with Bukit Vista’s COO that automated the tracking of the number of applications and hires per hiring campaign, ultimately generating valuable recruitment metrics for the company.

To juggle all these tasks efficiently, Shu Min needed to be a meticulous and organised multi-tasker as well as an effective negotiator. Her role in HR also required Shu Min to be attentive and empathetic to the concerns of others, and to be a collaborative problem solver. Shu Min felt especially challenged when she was tasked with hosting a fellow intern’s farewell party, as she would typically shy away from social events.

 

Values go beyond cultural background in a regional workplace

Shu Min’s three-month internship at Bukit Vista, albeit conducted virtually, was nothing short of fruitful and enjoyable. A perk of working in a close-knit startup that deals with regional clients is the high level of cultural sensitivity among colleagues. Even when some of Shu Min’s Indonesian colleagues burst into Bahasa when they got excited, they would quickly switch back to English for the benefit of their non-Indonesian teammates.

 

Photo Credit: Tan Shu Min

 

Shu Min also felt at ease with approaching her colleagues at Bukit Vista with questions, for the staff would be more than willing to lend a hand, living up to another of the company’s core values – Help Others to Help Themselves. Although she was an intern, Shu Min was given the opportunities and platforms to turn her ideas to reality. As her role in HR required her to interact with staff members across levels, Shu Min had many opportunities to learn from C-suite staff, HR leaders, and even fellow interns, from one-on-one sessions to company-wide meetings. Shu Min also had the chance to be mentored by Bukit Vista’s CEO, who had a wealth of experience to share with her.

“A quote from my mentor that I will never forget is, ‘remember that nobody wants to see you fail’,” shares Shu Min.

 

Career possibilities with an ASEAN internship

Shu Min completed her OVIP with a wider skill set, invaluable work experience, and bolstered confidence to tackle what is ahead as she returns her focus to her final year of studies at SMU. Interning at a company like Bukit Vista has opened more doors for her future career, especially in companies with headquarters in Singapore, as well as in local SMEs that work with partners in the region. With a virtual internship at a regional company under her belt, Shu Min has also demonstrated her adaptability – a trait highly valuable to recruiters.

To all her fellow SMU students considering an internship in ASEAN, Shu Min gives her stamp of approval. She encourages them to be open-minded to new ideas and diverse viewpoints – a must-have to stay valuable and competitive in today’s world.

“It may only be a short 10 weeks, but that is precisely why I was determined to make the best of my internship,” concludes Shu Min.

 

 

The ASEAN Internship Programme (AIP) and Overseas Virtual Internship Programme (OVIP) are part of the offerings provided by Dato’ Kho Hui Meng Career Centre (DKHMCC) to encourage students to build up an international network and be Global Citizens.

Apply for a Winter and/or Summer OVIP in an ASEAN country via OnTraC now.

 

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