One word: Wholesome. Have you ever had the feeling of being with a group of total strangers, never met face to face, and have no knowledge of each other’s backgrounds; yet treat each other with a lot of familiarity and warmth just the same? Now, imagine on a larger scale- say the whole organization of Biji-biji and Me.reka. This basically sums it up. I’ve mentioned previously in one of our CTDP Huddle that I opine that an ideal career does not solely depend on its salary and job scopes, it also should include the effect on your mental and physical health, opportunities as well as working environment and relationship with colleagues. My experience with CTDP Internship has been nothing, but bliss. And for that, I’m always grateful for it, as it helps me so much with my personal development and challenges in working remotely with minimal supervision.
Friends in CTDP never fail to greet each other with positivity every time we (virtually) gather weekly. They also will embrace you (also virtually) with friendliness and anticipation every time you ask questions or ask for help. Why I feel like the relationship with colleagues and the working culture is important above all else is because it’s a proven method to enhance your existing skills, help you to create an impact, and contribute to your general happiness. Hence, I’m generally happy to be engulfed in this positiveness radiated by friends here because I know I’ll be okay and I’ll be a lot better with their help.
All of it. I’m not even kidding, I’ve never bragged so much about my workplace to my friends, but being an intern with Me.reka gave me so many things to (humble) brag about. Being surrounded with positive people that believe in the same cause as me, prioritized inclusivity and sustainability, fully encouraged its members to grow and develop themselves to be better; I am truly invested in my internship experience. Fax, no cap.
But just to point out, what I love the most is the Monthly meeting and CTDP Huddle. Not because it’s a meeting where I could virtually meet everyone because I’m deprived of social interaction (maybe), it’s more because prior to the agenda in the meeting, they’ll put us into breakout rooms with a number of people and we would talk about stuff outside work-related topics. I find it very nice and intimate; one, it lets us know a few things and the personality of the people we’re working with, and two, it trains us how to talk on the spot when you are given a spotlight. I know a friend here that was so shy in our first meeting, but now she’s able to talk about her background and what she did during the pandemic so carefreely. It also made me feel acknowledged and supported, hence, I like those parts of our meetings the most.
The same as everyone else; the main challenges of doing an internship in the midst of a pandemic are not being able to meet everyone face to face, minimal supervision, and online fatigue (caused by being in front of a screen most of the time). Although I can instill those newfound skills into my resume, I’ve got to say that it’s also something that I’m struggling with. It’s the same routine, every day; wake up in the morning, open the laptop, and do work until evening, with occasional breaks with snacks and power naps, just so I can get through the day more productive. Eventually, we’ll get tired of it and some days just slack off. Not gonna lie, self-care and me-time have never been so appreciated like this before. Chewi also helped me to get better at this. When I went into a consultation session with her to discuss my performance and what I could do better, she came up with a solution that I should update what I’m working on to her every day because that would help both of us to figure out if anything is forgotten or slipped from our attention.
Through that, she could also supervise my progress and help me to set the dateline on the works I’m doing. Although minimal supervision might be easy for some, I may need some time to readjust how I was programmed to work. But personally, although these serve as my challenges, it also contributes to an opportunity for me as well. Personal development and interpersonal skills are what I value and appreciate the most, hence when I find out I am lacking in these areas, I should be mindful and trained to be better in it so I can be a valuable asset to any company I’ll be working with in the future.
I got to be honest here, I didn’t know that I don’t know this much when I started my CTDP journey. Prior to joining CTDP in Me.reka, I’ve joined a lot of volunteering programmes, hence when Chewi explained to me what was the program that she was running, I had this small thought that says ‘hey I can do that, I’ve joined numerous programs like that, maybe I’ll nail it in assisting her.’ But, boy was I wrong. From time to time, Chewi always taught me about managing and running the administration of the program (in which I’m lacking in experience); she would point out my careless mistakes and tell me straight what I could’ve done better. What I appreciate the most is that she constantly reminds me that she didn’t see me as an intern, instead she sees me as a colleague because we learn from each other. In relation to that, whenever she pointed out my mistakes, I didn’t feel like a child being corrected by an authority. I felt like a friend telling me I did something wrong, and I need to get my head in the game, so both of us can work better together.
Based on my past working experiences or educational background, I was trained to abide by the rules or orders as instructed by a senior or someone who is more experienced and superior. In brief, I was trained to be a ‘Yes, ma’am’ kind of person. But my experience with Me.reka, pushed me to make my own decision and gave me SO much space to improve and develop myself. This may come out as an exaggeration, but I mean it when I said I appreciate it a lot that I’ve gained more confidence as an individual with grounded thoughts and developing to be better by days in here.
Definitely, throughout my internship period, there are times I have no idea what’s going on or what am I supposed to do, or knowing what I don’t know. But through time, we’ll learn. It’s okay to make mistakes, it’s okay to not know everything and it’s okay to relearn; because there’s always room for improvement. I would like to share a word that still lingers in my mind from a webinar I attended a few weeks back, someone asked the speaker, “ Tomorrow is my first day of internship, do you have any advice for me so I won’t make mistakes?” and the speaker responded, “First, you’re an intern, not an expert. You’re there to learn hence mistakes are inevitable. Second, don’t restrict yourself with the thought that is heavily ingrained in our culture saying mistakes are bad. It’s not. In order to be successful, mistakes and failure are needed in this part of the journey.”
I was honestly affected by her words and it gave me a whole new insight into my internship phase and upcoming working life. Because she’s right, sometimes students are too scared to make mistakes because they thought it would get them penalized or some sort. But if we don’t make mistakes, we’re not giving enough space for ourselves to learn and improve ourselves. Therefore, don’t be so hard on yourself. Life is a really long journey, and it’s not always easy. So, take your time to learn and be better.