What a Heartware Network internship revealed to me

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It’s just like me to hold a child-like curiosity for things that happen behind the scenes in events and programmes. It comes as no surprise then, that I sought an internship at an organisation whose mission reflects my own values.

I was a Tuition Programme (TP) volunteer for 2 years while still in school, and I remember that it was during my first interview with the staff that I was already struck by the open, frivolous, and driven atmosphere the office promotes. I felt that if I joined as an intern, I could continue doing what I love: being the trainer/tutor that I am. In no time, I found myself knee-deep into the work life of Heartware Network.

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My fellow volunteer tutors and I, as we started our tutoring journey together.

My time as a former Scout student leader in school saw me through many service and CCA projects, but those experiences are nothing like managing and planning the Tuition Programme professionally (as well as butting in other projects as well)!  It was eye-opening to be recruiting volunteers and selling them projects that once were promoted to me when I was a JC1 student. If I were to summarise my internship days in three words, they are:

‘Hectic!’

Deadlines, expectations, and stakeholders. These terms are no strangers, but my insides still churn with stress at the sound of it. The first TP17 training was also the first training I conducted as a volunteer alumni and a facilitator… and the back-end administrative work is insane! I am relieved that I could be of good help to the staff in-charge, Denise, as much as I could as the youngest and most inexperienced member in this charity organisation.

Back-to-back interviews, meetings, and sober-faced colleagues with computer screens that lit brighter than their own faces – that is the picture-perfect first impression of this office as an intern. I was mentally prepared to delve into the deep end of the trenches of stress. But I realised that stress was not everything. There was so much more for me to learn about this cozy office and my colleagues…

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First learning the ropes of project management, guided by TP staff in-charge Denise.

‘Driven!’

Heartware Network takes pride in their mission to develop youth into community champions. Every person that comes through the office doors stand to gain a transformative experience, so the work of the staff is not taken lightly. Executive Director Ms Tan See Leng always reminded me the importance of putting 100% in every stage of project management. Even as I was co-planning the training session, we made sure to cascade the best of our expertise to the volunteers for their own benefit.

My earlier impression of this office, as I soon realised, stemmed from this drive and passion to make sure that the stakeholders are able to get the best from our programmes, start to finish.

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            Quite anxious facilitating the first time, but it got better with practice!

It is worth mentioning that the fervor shown in pursuing the various projects in Heartware Network, from the supposed as-young-as-me Samuel to the ever-experienced Ms See Leng and founder Mr. Raymond, was heart-warming to say the least. It humbled me to see how their passion drove the various projects, and consequently the organisation, to greater heights.

‘Fun!’

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Celebrating Chinese New Year together, pigging out on steamboat and louhei.

If pictures really speak a thousand words, the above photo would do justice to show how much fun I had as an intern here. It is rather apt for me to highlight Mr. Raymond’s mantra of removing politics in the office space as it is “wasting resources.” My mum already was pep-talking to me about the kind of politics I will face in the office, but those notions were thrown away from my first lunch with them. Every staff is fun in his/her own way. The smiles in the office when they see a new intern made me realise that I am in for a fun ride.

And that I had.