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Internship Experiences with MYMCA

Matthew Tan, a final year student from Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP), pursuing his Diploma in Psychology Studies (PCS) was attached to MYMCA’s Youth Leadership & Development Department (YLD) to gain relevant industrial exposures over the past four months. Our inaugural partnership with Ngee Ann Polytechnic was enriching, and was sparked off from a common objective to equip youths or graduating students with professional skills, where they can apply the knowledge acquired academically to real work life situations. This empowers them to realise their potential.

Lee Jia Qian who has been volunteering with M.Y YOUTHsync since 2014, currently stepped up in her leadership as one of the Exco members as she was drawn by the team dynamics in YLD. This also spurred her to intern with us while waiting for her school term in University to start. Her three months internship (17th October 2016 – 31st January 2017) deepened her understanding on our operations and the causes which our Association champions.

We would like to send our heartiest congratulations to the duo who have completed their internship with MYMCA successfully! It was also our joy to have Ms Phyllis Lim (Course Chair, PCS, Ngee Ann Polytechnic), Mrs Tan (Matthew’s mother) along with the MYMCA staff to celebrate their growth and milestones during their Interns’ Presentation on 19th January 2017.

Fret not if you missed hearing about their exciting internship journey personally! Here’s what they have to share:

Why are you interested in the social service sector?

Matthew: There are a lot of careers I could have considered, but the social service sector has always been on my heart since young. To me, “social service” at its core will always be about doing things that ultimately improve the quality of people’s lives. This was never an unfamiliar concept to me, due to my Christian beliefs and how I was raised at home. For one reason or another, I find greater fulfilment and satisfaction working for the benefit of others rather than for my own personal, material gain!

Jia Qian: During my school breaks, I have tried out F&B jobs, promoter jobs and service jobs; though there are a lot of lessons to learn in the process, I felt very drained out and I felt that I am not the kind to thrive in the competitive corporate setting. When I first joined MYMCA as a M.Y YOUTHsync volunteer in 2014, I was inspired by the rapport the YLD staff had with each other. After I began to intern with them, I got to know them even better. Through little interactions and conversations, I also came into contact with other staff within MYMCA. My impression of the staff and their teamwork got better as the days went by. The entire working environment seems to be filled with humble and encouraging people and they all love with both action and words! I feel the positive vibes every time I step into MYMCA and this gave me a good impression of social service sector.

What was the highlight of your overall internship experience and why?

Matthew: Co-composing, recording and performing live the MYMCA song “Right Here”! It’s a beautifully written song by the volunteers of M.Y YOUTHsync, and I had the privilege of contributing to its musical aspect on the acoustic and electric guitar. I was fortunate to come in at the time, being able to do something I loved as part of my intern job. The whole experience was challenging, fun and eye opening! It was an incredible honour to play a part in MYMCA’s re-branding as well.

Jia Qian: I could not identify any main highlight as everything was important to me in different ways. I am quite motivated to do the things assigned to me as the staff always tell me the significance and purpose of every task. I’m touched that they know me so well as to understand I am someone who needs meaning to do things. This allowed me to fully immerse myself in every experience.

What are some take-aways which you have learnt / gained through this internship?

Matthew: The biggest learning point for me was that, if you’re in the “business” of youth leadership and development, it’s crucial to create an empowering environment for people to grow. I experienced this first hand from the YLD staff. They never failed to create a warm, nurturing environment every day in office. This was incredibly challenging to me because it seemed so natural for them to do so. It’s possible that they had to make the intentional effort daily to be so caring and patient, but it never changed the fact that I felt empowered by them to improve myself and produce better work.

Jia Qian: Through this internship, I learnt skills like organizational skills for eg, to draw timelines, and set small and big milestones. I also learnt facilitation skills: to patiently question others so as to draw out their critical thinking. I gained confidence in expressing my thoughts and opinions; whether both interpersonally or in larger group setting. Most importantly, I learnt the beauty of mentoring and I am motivated to be a better mentor to others.

How has mentoring played out during your internship? Did you enjoy the journey and why?

Matthew: The first few weeks weren’t very happening for me as most of the year’s ongoing programmes were drawing to a close. However, it was like the calm before the storm… With YES! (Youth Empowerment for Social Change) Camp and MYMCA’s 70th Anniversary Celebrations coming up in the second month of internship, work started to accelerate and intensify. While the load increased, it never seemed like a chore to work because these events were larger and more complex than anything I’ve been a part of before. The challenge made it exciting for me. However, the source of my drive was really the teams I worked with. I saw their determination, and that spurred me on to give my best.

Jia Qian: Without mentoring from the YLD staff, I would have struggled to come for internship every day. Whenever I face issues in life, I know I have someone to talk to and to enlighten me. Whenever I feel insecure, the affirmations from them reminded me that I can do it. Whenever I am happy, I know that there are people to share the joy with me. Where I am and will be in future, I know they are just one call away. When I miss my home away from home, I know the doors of the office will always be open for me, with this group of people who have been more than just my lighthouses during my confused and dark period in life inside. As for my direct mentor, Jasmine, right from day 1, she has been putting in so much effort in me such that she noticed and brought up the things that I failed to notice myself. Be it affirmation or points for improvement, she brought it out in such a personal manner that it drew tears from my eyes once, and tears in my heart at other times. I am always looking forward to talking and learning from her personally, whether it is learning to structure my research paper, or having a prep talk session before a challenging event.

Do you think the internship opportunity prepared and developed you professionally for the working world? And why?

Matthew: Yes and no. In terms of hard skills like minute-taking, documentation and data compilation, I have definitely had much practice in this internship. It has also shown me what a healthy workplace culture can look like. It taught me how I ought to interact with my colleagues and also how to interact with potential partners for networking purposes (with much humility and genuine interest for each other’s welfare). It showed me clear examples of how good leaders empower and inspire others and not impose their authority. However, I have a feeling that this working environment will be difficult to find in the future, and I am concerned how I will handle those less-than-ideal situations. That said, even if I find myself in such circumstances, I know clearly the positive difference I would like to make there.

Jia Qian: I have been exposed to many meetings and I experienced the atmosphere and flow of the meetings, the importance of meeting agendas and typing minutes of meetings. This allowed me to learn from the staff on how they present during meetings, and the questions that they ask during networking sessions with external people. I have also been exposed to opportunities to build my confidence in public speaking.

With joy and pride, we are sending Matthew to serve our country as he will be enlisting for his National Service in June, while Jia Qian will be starting her internship with MOHH (Ministry of Healthy Holdings) in February onwards. We hope that the both of them will continue to work hard, play hard, live harder and be that change agent wherever they go!

We wish Matthew and Jia Qian success in their future endeavours and thank them for contributing their time and talents to MYMCA!

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