On August 14, I completed my internship with SATS Food as a service crew intern at the Expo 2012 in Yeosu, Korea.
I would say that my internship experience with SATS Food is a blessing in disguise. I was an unsuccessful candidate to be a Singapore Pavilion Guide when I initially signed up with PICO Art International Pte Ltd. Having (ambitiously) gone to the interview right after learning my ABCs in Korean, I was obviously not as fluent as my peers who had been learning the language for the past two years or so. Fortunately, I was recruited by Singapore Food Industries Pte Ltd (SFI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of SATS Ltd, to be part of the service team at the food kiosk in the Singapore Pavilion. Honestly, I could not have asked for a better opportunity, as I have learnt tremendously from the staff of SFI.
As they say, when one door closes, another opens.
As a 4th year student, life after NUS is an important issue to me. Acquiring experience outside of the classroom is just as important as classroom learning. With SFI, I was given the chance to practice people management skills: I was a mentor to my fellow freshman intern, a supervisor to the Korean staff, and I had to exercise my discretion to serve different types of customers on a daily basis.
To deliver quality service standards and a pleasant customer experience, everyone had to work harmoniously as a team. Everyone, from the chefs to the service crew and even the administrative team in Singapore, had to be in-sync. Consistency was key.
During the three months, we faced many challenges. The poor turnout at the Expo forced us to change our sales approach. We had to pro-actively revise the game plan while continuously surveying the visitor demographic and their spending power, competing F&B outlets in the vicinity, and other events that were occurring which may have an effect on our sales performance. On a personal level, I had to work around language barriers when supervising the Korean staff while managing expectations set by my own Singaporean supervisors. You could say that I had to work within two cultural settings simultaneously to get the job done. In short, I have received many opportunities to learn and to grow further as an individual; gaining useful social skills that will be beneficial for my future endeavours, whether it is in Singapore or overseas.
Additionally, the Expo gave me a chance to reflect on environmental issues. I had the chance to think about recycling methods used both in South Korea and in Singapore, where each country has different approaches. To decide which approach is better is an impossible question to answer, but the importance is in the sharing of ideas and working towards the common goal of being an eco-friendly society.
My three-month stint with SFI has been extremely enriching: being exposed to a new environment, having learnt many valuable life lessons, and having improved my soft-skills, such as effective communication and people management skills. This will definitely give me a head start in my future career. I cannot fully express my gratitude to SFI for giving me this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I am deeply indebted to my mentors Mr Seddrick Look and Ms Glora Soon for their constant guidance, feedback, and for sharing their experiences that have been a great interest to me.
All in all, my on-going journey as an NUS student is a fruitful and an exciting one. I hope to gain broader perspectives of the world, be it in or out of the classroom. I am elated to announce that from this October, I will be doing a language and cultural study with Kyushu University, under the scholarship of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) in Japan. I sincerely encourage my peers, and other fellow Singaporeans, to constantly cultivate a hunger to learn more about our ever-changing world, and to share ideas and knowledge that will help our society progress further.
Tips for Overseas Internships
Here are some tips for those who intend to go on overseas internships:
1) Do some research about the country and the city you are going to. Be familiar with cultural norms and practices by asking around or through reliable Internet sources.
2) Go with an open mind: You do not know what to expect; it is good if you listen and think before you act. Learn as much as you can. Take this chance to be independent.
3) Share much about your home country to the locals and take time to learn more about your host country’s customs and practices.
4) Explain your actions as you may be misunderstood in a different cultural context.
5) Do not be reluctant to help and to share with your co-workers, and others who have traveled out of Singapore that are working near you: cultivate a healthy practice of helping one another.
6) Be familiar with social etiquette, as you may attend dinners, parties and get-together sessions after working hours.
7) Always keep your finances in check.
8) Keep in touch with your family at home regularly.
9) Enjoy the experience! Bring back stories to share with others.