How to solidify your career while still in school
Hazel Mak, 24, shares how she’s carving out her career before even graduating university.
Entering the workforce can be intimidating, especially for fresh graduates.
A way to make the transition less daunting is an internship and 24-year-old Hazel Mak is using her time with logistics company Ninja Van to full effect. The Singapore University of Social Sciences student, who studies Supply Chain Management, is carving out a niche for herself while on a six-month internship with the company’s recovery team.
She started working in June, and as part of her role, looks for areas of improvement in Ninja Van’s processes, and finds ways to optimise their operations.
Hazel had sourced for the internship on her own accord, as she was looking to get first-hand experience of what work was like in her industry.
“I’m studying Supply Chain Management… because I thought there were a lot of opportunities in supply chain. Also, nowadays people buy a lot of stuff online and I just kind of got curious about what happens behind the scenes,” she shares.
“It’s a school requirement to work on one internship, but I voluntarily joined Ninja Van on my own as an additional internship.”
Adjusting to a new job during ‘the new normal’
The pandemic has rendered remote working as the default, and this was no different for Hazel throughout her internship. She shares that her colleagues at Ninja Van, thankfully, were supportive and made sure that her work can be done effectively even when she wasn’t able to physically be in the workplace.
“I have to do ground studies in the warehouse for my role. But because of COVID-19, I had to cut down on the visits and try to consolidate my information from home,” she says.
“Thankfully, I can easily message a manager or associate if I need anything. If I can collect information through my colleagues, I’ll just ask them to help me and I will try not to go down myself.”
“It’s a very flat hierarchy and everyone is very friendly and chill, so that helps a lot,” she adds.
Learning to take charge and innovate
More than halfway through her internship, Hazel has found the perfect balance in her job. She shares that while every day is a new experience and she’s still learning, she also gets to lead projects and pitch her own ideas.
“Initially we had a one-month immersion period. I was told to see if there were any processes that needed improving, and after that I got the opportunity to start projects to find solutions.”
Joining the company during a high-stress period – the 6.6 sale – also gave her a better understanding of Ninja Van’s processes and what she needed to learn to perform well in her role.
“Currently I’m working on three of my own initiatives, and I have regular check-ins with my manager. I present how I want to go about it and he will give me notes, then I work on it under his supervision. His guidance helps me a lot,” she says, when asked about how she learned to pitch and spearhead initiatives.
At Ninja Van, interns go through all aspects of a package’s journey as part of their immersion, including the delivery process. By understanding the procedures, they are better equipped to tackle issues in the processes and innovate ideas to solve them.
“From there, we get the opportunity to start on our projects, and act as project managers which is great for an intern,” says Hazel.
Hazel embarked on projects where her expertise was needed. She says: “I have some supply chain knowledge, in particular Lean Six Sigma (a method of identifying and eliminating issues in a process). That’s one skill that I apply to my projects, and my manager encourages me to use these opportunities to apply what I’ve studied into a real life situation.
“I think one of the most important skills is learning to manage projects on your own. It will help you in finding jobs, and in your future career.”
On summing up her internship experience with Ninja Van, Hazel describes it as “fun”.
She says: “I will say that I didn’t know that an internship can be so fun. Previously I worked ocean freight, and now that I’ve tried Ninja Van last mile logistics, I know that this is something that I prefer, and I’ve found what I want to do in future as well.”