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3 Biggest Reasons Singaporean Interns Fail to Get Job Offers  

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Joanne Poh

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Remember the first day of your first internship? Getting off the bus or MRT, gazing wide-eyed at the office buildings towering overhead, and feeling like an imposter in the office attire you bought the day before.

To bright-eyed, bushy tailed young interns, getting a job offer from your latest holiday gig can seem like a matter of luck and connections. After all, that must be the reason why your otherwise unremarkable coursemate already has three job offers while you, with your Mensa level-IQ, are still left out in the cold.

I’m going to be upfront and tell you that there are some companies that simply do not have room to hire newbies, and take on interns simply because they’re cheap labour. If you’re in a smaller company and feel exploited, that could be the case.

But for those companies that aren’t running on a shoestring, you can drastically increase your chances of receiving an offer by avoiding the following, which give companies a good reason to say sayonara at the end of your internship.

 

You are doing the bare minimum

Many students start their internships thinking that if they keep their heads down and do their work the best they can, they’ll impress their bosses.

If you’re some kind of technical whiz, sure, your genius might be enough to get you a job offer.

But for most interns, particularly in non-technical fields, here’s the hard truth—you are clueless, and the company does not have 6 to 12 months to invest in your training.

So the kinds of tasks you are given will mainly be of a support function. (If you’re one of those investment banking interns being paid $8,000 a month to sell your soul to the company, this does not apply to you.)

This also means that competently doing whatever work you are given is the bare minimum. And no matter how well you do it, a thousand other interns and their mothers can do it too, so if that’s the only thing you bring to the table don’t expect to get hired.

Conversely, you get major bonus points if you manage to participate more actively in real projects, and get the company to start thinking of you as part of the team. Once that happens, your chances of retention are high. But to get to that point, you might need to actually open your mouth and try to get involved.

 

You have been caught slacking too many times

You’re not the first intern and you probably won’t be the last. You might think your boss does not notice that you’ve been surfing Facebook all day because you’ve cleverly camouflaged your browser window with ten work-related document files. But seriously, most employees know (and probably use) all these tricks themselves, and can spot them from a mile away.

Replying to a few WhatsApp messages at your desk probably won’t be too damning, but you want to make sure you’re still giving most of your attention to your work.

If you find yourself in the situation where you don’t have enough stuff to do or the company just doesn’t want to entrust you with more complex tasks, ask to sit in on meetings or shadow another employee.

Whatever you do, don’t fritter away your time on social media or personal matters, enjoy long lunches or spend hours gossiping with the other interns, thinking you’ve “earned” it for finishing your work. You will be noticed and judged.

 

You seem uninterested in learning

No matter how good you are at your work, unless your skills are in short supply or you are truly given a chance to display your genius, your boss is going to be more interested in your attitude. (Of course, if you really suck at whatever work you’ve been given, that’s another story.)

The way to leave your superiors with a good impression of you is to display a genuine interest in learning. If you manage to come off as a passionate person with a thirst for knowledge, unless the company has no room for employees, they’ll be scrambling to offer you a job.

That’s largely because Singaporean companies have huge problems with employee motivation and retention. We constantly receive appalling scores in surveys measuring employee engagement and satisfaction at work.

That means it is super hard to find employees who don’t look damn sian at work, actually bother to try to master their craft and are willing to go the extra mile instead of complaining that something’s not in their job scope.

No matter how brilliant you are, if you don’t seem interested in the work or invested in the company, there’s a high chance you’ll lose the job to that siao-on intern who volunteers for everything. That’s the law of the jungle.

Have you ever been offered a job after an internship? Share your tips in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.