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Photo credit: RU YING KANG

How to make the most of a remote internship

Ru Ying Kang, 26, shared how she adapted to the new ways of getting work done remotely with food delivery company Deliveroo.

Noreen Shazreen
Noreen Shazreen

Probably the coolest cat lady you’ll ever meet.


Published: 22 July 2021, 5:27 PM

While most fresh grads begin their first jobs in an office, Ru Ying Kang started her internship being confined to the four walls of her hotel room – one of the new norms in a COVID-19-stricken world.

The 26-year-old is one of the thousands of travellers sent into mandatory isolation for a stipulated 14-day period, also known as the Stay-Home Notice (SHN), after returning abroad from the United Kingdom (UK) in October last year.

Ru Ying, who graduated with a degree in Graphic Communications Design from Central Saint Martins, had secured a position as a marketing intern at online food delivery service, Deliveroo, prior to returning to Singapore. 

Having excelled beyond her internship – she now holds a full-time position at the company – the 26-year-old shared with Youthopia about her remote internship experience and tips on how she maximised her potential as a work-from-home intern.

Starting an internship during her Stay-Home Notice

While those under quarantine were idling in their hotel rooms, Ru Ying, on the other hand, requested to start her internship as soon as she landed in Singapore.

“I messaged my manager and she asked, ‘When can you start?’. I was like ASAP (as soon as possible). 

“So the moment I landed in Singapore, I gave her my hotel information and my room number. She couriered my laptop and everything over to my hotel. And I started work the next day,” she says.

She made the request so she had something to keep herself occupied while serving her quarantine orders for 14 days, since she wasn’t allowed to leave her hotel room at all times.

As a marketing intern, Ru Ying was responsible for managing the company’s social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, as well as handling customer relationship management.

 

Ru Ying at the adoption of the baby tree kangaroo campaign with Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) in February 2021. PHOTO CREDIT: RU YING KANG

 

As someone who is always seeking new experiences, Ru Ying never considered postponing her remote internship. Getting the internship offer was a great relief to her as the job market in Singapore suffered during the pandemic, leaving many fresh graduates struggling to find employment.

“The fact that [my internship] was remote definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone, but it also allowed me to have a lot of autonomy with my own schedule. So I will have to meet the deadlines that I set for myself,” she shares. 

Managing the challenges of a remote internship

As remote internships become the new norm in this digital era, Ru Ying also had to deal with a set of challenges she never anticipated. Having all of her onboarding and inductions done online was the most challenging part of her remote internship.

“That’s because we have to learn how to use certain software and learn how the company works… It was just very hard to grasp a lot of it at the beginning. It’s just like information overload,” she shares, adding that her colleagues however, were friendly and always eager to help.

 

Ru Ying (middle) catching up with her colleagues when COVID-19 restrictions were eased. PHOTO CREDIT: RU YING KANG

 

Among other setbacks that she faced after being abroad was jetlag, but Ru Ying says she’s got her way of getting through the two weeks.

To cope with the jetlag, she forced herself to stay up during the day, drank coffee and took a shower before work.

“Of course, with the jetlag, it was a bit harder at the start. But I think the routine helped a lot,” she explains, adding that she had to adjust to the seven-hour time difference.

While a healthy work-life balance means something different to everyone, most can agree that poor balance is a recipe for burnout at work.

When asked about how she cultivates a good work-life balance at home, Ru Ying says: “I make it a point to have my lunch break, no matter how busy I am. I think it’s important to sit outside and just get a breath of fresh air.” 

“But I will also slot in time for exercise,” she adds, pointing towards the spin bike in her room over the Zoom interview. 

Spearheading initiatives to foster a robust work culture

In addition to her role in the marketing department, Ru Ying also took on additional responsibilities to promote a thriving work environment at Deliveroo’s office.

She is currently a member of Deliveroo’s social committee, which organises activities to foster camaraderie and team-building across the different departments.

“I organised a Valentine’s Day coffee date where I put all the different people in different departments into groups. So one group would have someone from the operations, account, or commercial team.

“At that point in time, we had a lot of new joiners. So I thought that it would be a good idea to have this,” she explains.

The social committee team has also implemented activities such as cycling, night walks and “prata flipping” to promote bonding between employees outside the office. 

When the COVID-19 situation in Singapore worsened, social activities were put on hold and had to be shifted online. Despite not meeting in person, Ru Ying still participated in a virtual terrarium-making session to interact with her colleagues.

 

Despite Singapore’s heightened alert, Ru Ying still takes the time to catch up with her colleagues via virtual Zoom meetings. PHOTO CREDIT: RU YING KANG

 

“After work, everyone’s in a better mood because work is done. Everyone is more chill. Then we’ll just see our colleagues on Zoom again, but this time to do things that are not related to work… I think it boosted the company morale a lot.”

Tips on how to make the most of a remote internship

As remote internships become the norm in this digital age, Ru Ying has a few tricks up her sleeve that have helped her succeed during her internship. She attributes her exemplary work performance to asking more questions and speaking up at work.

“I think the most important thing is asking questions. If you’re not sure, you drag all the way until Friday, and then [it] turns out that what you’ve been spending [on for] four days is wrong. 

“When you ask questions, it shows that you’re actually interested to learn more. And I think that it’s definitely a step that you have to overcome. It’s a fear that a lot of people have,” she says.

 

Ru Ying has also been heavily involved in multiple big projects including Deliveroo’s ‘Food. We Get It.’ campaign. PHOTO CREDIT: RU YING KANG

 

In addition to asking questions, Ru Ying also has a piece of advice for work-from-home interns: “Self-discipline is very, very important… It’s very easy to just have a 20-minute nap, especially after lunch. When you’ve had a very heavy lunch, you just want to sleep.” 

Additionally, she encouraged interns not to be afraid of making mistakes at their workplace since it serves as a learning opportunity for them.

“The moment you are afraid of making mistakes, you’re actually limiting yourself a lot because the people that you work with… they’ve worked so much longer than you. They have plenty of experiences that you can tap into.”

Meanwhile, she also wishes for interns to get to know their colleagues better and embrace themselves in the workplace culture to establish better relationships at work. 

“I think it’s important to try to get to know your colleagues… And then hopefully later they become [your] friends,” she shares, noting that even activities such as volunteering can help one to immerse themselves in the workplace culture. 

“When you immerse yourself in the work culture… It brings a lot of opportunities that [can] open a lot of doors for you.”


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