As she lay in bed that Sunday evening, preoccupied with thoughts on what the future held for her after graduation, she got distracted by the beeping sound of her phone. She reluctantly picked it up to find out who was bugging her at that moment. Her attention was caught by the words “2021 Next Generation Internship Programme: Call for Applications (January – June 2021).” She carefully read through the message, paying much attention to the eligibility criteria. Her attention was drawn to the ‘skills’ required to be eligible to take part in the programme.
Like a tsunami, it hit her hard. That phrase she was hoping she would not find; ‘Minimum of a first degree in International Affairs, political science, public policy, law, developmental studies or related fields.’
Knowing that she did not have a degree in any of the above-listed areas of specialisation, she tried very hard in her mind to classify her B.Sc. in Chemistry under “related fields”, forcing it to sound like social science. This call seemed to be a no-go zone for her. She told herself this was not meant for her, dropped her phone on her bed and dozed off.
Waking up the following morning with the thought evading her mind, she asked herself one question; “What do I have to lose? Either of two things would happen. I would get selected, or I would get rejected.” This was her driving force. One she would encourage every job seeker to adopt. This spurred her to develop the enthusiasm to drop an application for this opportunity.
Day after day she collated all the required information until she was sure her application was ready for submission. Little did she know that this was the beginning of an outstanding journey for her.
As she walked into the WACSI building that bright morning of 18 January 2020, a galaxy of thoughts rushed through her mind. She wondered if she belonged there. The myriad of thoughts was immediately wiped off by the aura of love showered on her as the staff welcomed her. “I would definitely love this place” she whispered to herself.
One month into the internship and she began to feel like a walking encyclopedia. The environment made acclimatisation relatively easy for her. Surrounded by energetic facilitators, she was taken through a series of mind-blowing training. The session on leadership taught her that leadership requires focus, confidence, resilience, stress and time management skills.
Through the proposal writing session, she understood the need for friend-raising before fundraising. The financial management session provided her with a better understanding of preparing and analysing budgets.
As an individual with a low confidence level, the training and facilitation skills session guided her through boosting her self-confidence. It equipped her with the skills needed to become an excellent facilitator. She learned different facilitation approaches to ensure full participant engagement. Summarily, the session empowered her with the skills needed to become an excellent facilitator.
In a world that has been struck by the COVID 19 pandemic, virtual sessions and the use of tech tools are now in vogue. The ability to be a good facilitator has now become a prerequisite to propelling change.
Her few months in the internship have been overwhelmingly fulfilling. Research has become a lot less frustrating as she is now actively engaged in conducting research. Her research skills were harnessed through a session on research methodology. All these and many other sessions have guided her through her mindset and career transformation process. Not forgetting the “morning café’ (breakfast meeting) she had with one of the facilitators who instilled in her values she could not have gotten through training sessions.
As the days go by, she continues to metamorphose into the best version of herself, being pushed to discover talents she never knew she had. It is amazing how fast one can be transformed within a very short period when surrounded by the right people.
Through this internship, she has encountered amazing people she never imagined she would have met. Taking into consideration the fact that your network is your net worth, she is gradually building up her net worth by creating the right network through the Next Generation Internship Programme.
As she anticipates the person she would become by the end of the programme, she is filled with so much excitement. One of her greatest lessons learnt is the fact that nothing can stop you from doing what you really want to do. Neither a degree in chemistry nor a lack of experience prevented her from seizing this fruitful opportunity. She hereby encourages youths, most especially girls to apply for this internship as it is a lifetime opportunity.
NB: The author, Mabel Lum, developed this article after participating in a session on writing blogs. This is a module within the skills-building component of the programme.