Mr Lek Sinyan, a Business Development Executive at LoanGarage shares with us about his experience interning in a startup environment!
Stepping into the army for 2 years made me lose touch with the working society. Furthermore, pursuing a Bachelors in Banking and Finance added the drive to be working in a finance related field. As someone who treasures networking and experience, I decided to look for an internship alongside my undergraduate studies. Many graduates have a hard time finding a job after school, and that is why I am keen to build up my resume credentials and gain as much experience as possible. I chanced upon LoanGarage, who merely had 2 employees at that time: Aidil (Founder/CEO) and Izati (Co-Founder). I joined as a Business Development Intern.
To be brutally honest, I never knew what a startup is until I interned at LoanGarage. I never had any expectations and we worked from home. My main tasks were doing research, analysis, and making cold calls for appointments to get licensed moneylenders onboard. When I got an appointment, I would travel down to make a sales presentation. After 3 months, I was offered a part-time job as a Business Development Executive. As we expanded, we got our physical office and we set it up from scratch by getting printers, stationaries and furniture. My job scope basically widens from business development to interior designer to administrative matters!
Eventually, I was tasked to do research and analysis for other markets such as Indonesia. When we launched into Indonesia, I went over with Aidil to set up the office, meet our new colleagues, and clients. We went through the same logistics for the Indonesia office as the Singapore office. It was absolutely enriching because this is something new for me and definitely not something that anyone – outside of an early stage startup – would experience. With prior experience from an overseas internship during my final year in polytechnic, I find no trouble communicating with my new colleagues.
Currently, LoanGarage has approximately 10 staff in Singapore and Jakarta. We are fortunate to have Jaganathan, ex-Head of Engineering for both PropertyGuru and Yahoo! SEA and India, with us, and we are excited in moving forward. Being able to see LoanGarage grow till this stage is like watching a baby grow up. It is satisfying and a humbling experience.
Throughout my stay in LoanGarage, I have learnt many skills that are not taught in the classroom, and I am still learning. As a Business Development Executive, I sharpened my skills such as presentation, communication and analytical skills. I picked up a bit of marketing such as Analytics and SEO/SEM. You can expect the following if you want to intern at a startup:
There is a fixed time for work but sometimes you need to come in early and go home late. The latest I went home was 3am in the morning!
2. Jack of All Trades and Experience
You are one. It does not mean that my job scope will only be limited to business development when I am a Business Development Executive. Act like a sponge, absorb whatever you can. Like what I said, I was an interior designer, an admin assistant, and a marketer! With this wealth of experience, it will be invaluable to your future self.
3. Fast and Focused
A startup has a very fast-paced culture. We want to get things done, that is how we drive value in the company. Due to this, we are focused on what we are doing. Sometimes you have to reply email after hours and on weekends!
4. Freedom with Responsibilities
Startups are usually small and you will be given clear objectives and responsibilities. On a brighter side, it comes with the freedom to do it. Just get the work done!
5. Mentorship and Growth
I am lucky to be working beside Aidil and Jagan. Working with the best in the industry spurs growth and makes you become one of them. They challenged and pushed me to my limits, propelling me to the next level.
In a nutshell, being flexible is a must for anyone intending to intern at a startup.
Lately, there has been a controversial topic regarding startups giving internships a bad name. Interns are not mentored, unpaid, overworked, or underpaid. My experience has been difference because I am mentored and paid a decent stipend. Personally, I feel that internships should focus on what the intern can learn and contribute throughout his/her tenure. Interns are important because they bring in young and crazy ideas into the startup. Interns like me want to perfect our resumes and portfolios so that we have something to share in the future. The experience weighs more than the stipend; it is something money cannot buy. However of course, a stipend will be helpful in terms of supporting the financial burdens of an intern who may be studying at the same time.
Internship is never easy for all; while juggling between work and school has not been an easy thing for me. Often do I find myself questioning, “Why do I have to do this?” However as I look back right now, I had never once regretted this internship. I am thankful and excited to be part of this startup that has a bold and daring vision.
Read also: 5 Things I Love About Working in a Startup
Article contributed by Lek Sinyan, Business Development Executive at LoanGarage.
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