6 Things I wish I knew before my internship

September 18, 2022

So you landed your dream internship, congratulations! Now you must probably wonder; how do I become a good intern? What are they expecting of me? Worry not, Angela, our previous User Research intern shares some wisdom she picked up during her time with us.

Here are some words of advice from a fellow intern to you. 

1. You must be flexible.

At the start of my internship, I was completely focused on sticking to deadlines. But over time, I realised that I had to be more flexible and accommodate others' schedules. Many of SELF’s beneficiaries are busy juggling multiple things in their lives; daytime jobs, their families, etc. So sometimes, we’d have to push back our meet-ups and sessions. It discouraged me a little at the start, but I learnt to be more accommodating  and to work around the circumstances.

Mothers have a mammoth of responsibilities; chores, child-minding and their jobs. So at SELF, we do our best to accommodate and cater to our women’s needs. 


2. Never be afraid to ask for help.

Looking back, I was pretty overwhelmed with conducting interviews, particularly with children. I remember asking one of the volunteers, Audrey, for help because she had experience working with children. She gave me many useful tips and I was grateful for that. It made me realise that everyone was willing to help, and all I had to do was reach out and ask for it.

 At SELF, we have a culture of being encouraging and having one another’s backs, whenever things get too heavy. And we do our best to apply this to all aspects of SELF; from volunteers to our beneficiaries, and everything else in between.

3. Being empathetic is a crucial skill.

In my first few weeks at SELF, I was still learning from the other volunteers so I sat in and took notes during the sessions. And in every session, I could really see each volunteer caring and empathising with the situations of our women, even if it wasn’t something they have personally experienced. This deeply resonated with me.

Personally, this is something I’m still working towards; being empathising even when I am unable to offer any words of comfort that could uplift our women. 


In all our chats with our women, we do our best to offer uplifting and encouraging words because to us, our women are our friends. 

4. Encouragements come a long way.

During one of the sessions, we were explaining to our women about SELF’s journey so far and asked them what they liked and disliked about SELF. It had been quite a stressful day for me, and one of the women reaffirmed the team by saying that she completely believed in what SELF was building. It was a small encouragement but seeing the amount of faith our women had for us, coupled with excitement for SELF’s future, really made the work worthwhile.

It's easy to get discouraged and stressed in many aspects of our lives, but even a small affirmation can make a lasting impact.

 At SELF, we know how to work hard and play hard. Just last month, we bonded over board games as part of our team-building.

5. It’s okay to struggle. It’s part of learning.

One of the tasks I undertook was to interview our women, and I think I struggled a little with communicating with them. I had initial doubts on being the lead interviewer and spearheading the pilot trial but the reassurances I received from my colleagues Wei Ching, Audrey, Tammy and Felicia helped build my confidence. It made me feel like I was on the right track. On top of this, I also received a lot of kind words from the women themselves, which were empowering for me. I think I overcame the apprehension by re-listening to the recordings and reflecting on how sessions could have been facilitated better. 

Everyone faces challenges, no one is exempted from this. But the real challenge is how to grow and learn from our problems.

6. Everyone is valued, even an intern.

I think it’s a universal presumption that interns are “just interns”. We don't leave much impact, because well, we’re just there for a few months. But with SELF, it was made known from the start that I was valued as a team player. Even though I was just an intern, I really appreciate how much everyone valued my opinions and suggestions on important matters. It made me feel more confident to take on bigger tasks, be more vocal, and more proactive. I think this is one of the best parts about SELF.


The SELF team out for a day of board games and fun.

Internships can be fulfilling and fun; if you make it out to be. There truly is no better way to learn than by doing. 

Hands clasped together

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