August 24, 2017
Interning abroad this summer was something I was determined to do. The reason was simple; working abroad would enable me to travel, engage in cultural immersion and gain international work experience. Despite having worked in human resources previously, interning abroad would offer me new perspectives, beyond just skills for work.
When I heard about my internship placement with LEWIS Singapore, I was truly excited. I’d never worked in an agency environment before so I knew this was a new journey I was embarking on.
The first impression I had was the inclusive work environment at LEWIS – I was surprised to see such an inclusive and tight-knit group of employees who socialised both in and outside of the office. Everybody genuinely seemed to care about each other beyond just their own work performance and career development.
The second impression I had was the casual atmosphere in the office. In the US, work-life balance can be hard to achieve. Most companies operate on a hierarchical organisational structure. For most people, the rhythm of work is to show up, do a passable job and leave. At LEWIS, it is the opposite, actively promoting an engaging workplace while optimising productivity.
Simple acts of kindness such as making a office coffee run or having a sense of humour is hugely appreciated. It’s the norm to hear employees chat away about weekend adventures or crack a joke in the midst of responding to professional emails. This informal work environment was strange for me in the beginning, but I noticed this is a big part of the personality and culture cultivated. It was eye-opening to be in an environment where being a team was strongly emphasised.
The open plan nature of the office workspace also caught me by surprise. This was my first time working in an open workspace where employees across all levels sat together, with my previous work experience being in offices where employees worked in cubicles and senior executives were separated by private offices. Shared workspace makes communication more accessible, breaking down barriers between managers and employees, encouraging collaboration and improving employee engagement.
Working in an agency environment meant that the work that I did was very different to my previous experiences. During my two months at LEWIS, I worked on projects ranging from recruitment marketing through to data analysis. I created employee profiles, wrote a city travel guide and conducted candidate sourcing on LinkedIn. These tasks were all brand new to me when I started. I picked up new skills along the way and became more adept at ones I already possessed. Writing and research were two that I practiced frequently, and it was good to see how I could utilise these outside a university environment.
It is unbelievable how quickly time flies. My internship has drawn to an end and I’m very grateful for the opportunity I’ve had. Not only did it allow me to hone my skills in my field of study, but it also enabled me to see human resources in a new light and to explore a new working environment. I realise there is still a wide range of career possibilities in human resources that I have yet to see and explore. In the meantime I will put my knowledge into practice and continue to establish new skills and develop the ones I already have.