“I grew comfortable with being uncomfortable in a VUCA world. In the right environment and team, with a visionary leader paving the way, you’ll be pleasantly shocked at what you’ll achieve and how you’ll grow through this internship.”
When applying for internships, I was wondering what exactly is the Ungoogleable Challenge all about. Solving tough marketing challenges sounded interesting and challenging – but is interning in a field unrelated to my major worth my precious time?
In hindsight, it’s a resounding YES!
On the first day, we were grouped in teams and assigned an area of marketing to refine and improve. Within the first few weeks, we were doing our research to understand more about marketing. This is followed by weeks of developing new insights to formulate frameworks on the given topic. These frameworks would be used by marketing leaders to plan and strategize their marketing efforts more effectively. To test our ideas against the real world, we applied these frameworks using the company’s marketing channels and analysed the results. In the final week, we presented our findings to top marketing leaders from companies including Microsoft, SAP, Citrix and Randstand. What we formulated even helped in securing contracts and opening doors to reputable companies.
More than what we achieved, it’s how we’ve grown through this internship that is transferable to our academics, career and personal life. For myself, I find that to be the most fulfilling part of this internship.
Knowing what to expect allows one to be better prepared for the internship. I find that knowing what NOT to expect helps as well.
This isn’t the internship where I was simply trading time for something new to pad your portfolio with. I did not photocopy papers or file documents. I wasn’t even involved with what the full-timers do. They’re involved in carrying out the clients’ marketing strategies, while I was cracking my head in formulating new strategies with my teammates. In school, being in the University Scholars Programme allowed me to be exposed to multidisciplinary modules. But this internship was the first time I had the opportunity to bridge concepts from various fields and apply it to an industry which I had no prior exposure to.
This isn’t the most structured internship where I had fixed working hours or a mundane and repetitive to-do list. While meetings take place in the day, I had the freedom to determine when and how to work. After a few days of working during office hours, the interns found it unproductive as we were all ‘night creatures’. So we worked late at night instead so that we could wake up later in the morning, and start work again in the afternoon! By default, it was a remote internship. But halfway through, the creative juices stopped flowing and we felt stuck very easily. That’s when we started to meet in the office instead, and that made a whole lot of difference! Meetings were no longer simply about checking things off a list, but we could interact and have fun together in the process too.
This isn’t the internship where you only hear about the boss and don’t know him/her personally. There’s a difference between knowing about someone and knowing someone personally. I had direct and personal access to the boss (Marc Goh) himself throughout this internship. He would find out about our aspirations at the start and nurture us to who we want to be. He would also share about his life and journey very vulnerably with all of us. The progress of the interns’ project and the interns themselves was always on his mind. He would meet us very frequently to find out about our progress and align us in the right direction.
There was one moment in the week leading up to our final presentation that touched me the most. Marc wanted us to be able to find a job easily in the future. Knowing that we formulated something of value to the industry, he started reaching out to HR Leaders from reputable companies to attend our final presentation. We were so touched that he cared for our future. What was encouraging to us was that top marketing leaders from MNCs or Fortune 500 companies that attended were so impressed that they wanted to hire us too!
It took a leap of faith to try something new. This ‘unconventional’ internship positioned and grew me a step closer to my dreams. I grew to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations, to push the boundaries by asking the right questions and to be a leader by taking ownership of the project.
To future interns: If you want something you never had, you have to do something you’ve never done before. I assure you that in an environment of growth, you are all set to flourish!