Supportive Staff Key to UBD Interns Excelling in Heartware Network Stint

Jun 30, 2021   |   Yogaraj P

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Farah (far right), an intern with Heartware Network from UBD, joining the Heartware Support Our Pioneers Programme’s biweekly visitations.

Preparing for an internship can be a very daunting experience. Entering a work environment as a student may be challenging for many. Without proper guidance and support in the workplace, interns could feel overwhelmed and doubt their capabilities. However, for the Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) students interning at Heartware Network in Singapore, their internship experience proved to be a success because of how supportive their colleagues were.

Last year, UBD interns at Heartware were required to adapt to unusual circumstances because of the global COVID-19 outbreak. The pandemic meant UBD interns then were forced to shorten their work spell as they were called back to Brunei by their university – the students left a month earlier than originally planned.

Nonetheless, this only proved to be a minor disruption and the Brunei students were able to continue their internship online, in the safety of their home country. This was made possible through regular Zoom meetings, email correspondence and WhatsApp messages. This hybrid internship spanned 14 weeks, from January to April.

Nur Farah Nadiah bte Ghazali, a UBD student who interned at Heartware last year, felt that her time in the organisation was still extremely fruitful. She said: “The internship at Heartware Network has been a truly gratifying experience.

Farah posing with the HeartBear and the cake from her birthday celebration at the office!

“There is not one single individual in the organisation who has not contributed to my self-growth and has not motivated me to improve, and every lesson taught is precious and very dear.”

Another UBD intern last year was Yap Xiao Hui, who said she “greatly enjoyed her experience and time at Heartware.” Xiao Hui’s life at Heartware was “so worthwhile” that she, along with Farah, voluntarily extended her internship by three months. Xiao Hui liked the “warm and welcoming work environment”, and she was able to learn new skills in designing and writing.

Xiao Hui said: “My ultimate goal has always been to make full use of my time working at a Singaporean company, (and gain) as many learning experiences as I can before returning to Brunei.

“This is to ensure that I can contribute to our country with the knowledge I’ve gained once I’m back in UBD, and (wish to) continue doing so beyond graduation.”

Since 2015, Heartware has graciously welcomed UBD interns and has been a platform for these students to experience life in the social service sector. During their stint at Heartware, UBD interns are exposed to various responsibilities; these include organising programmes, managing volunteers, and developing content.

For instance, Malai Ezzan – the Bruneian served as an intern at Heartware in 2017 – was involved in the “We Love Our Teachers” Project (WLOTP). The project is designed to encourage students to express appreciation for their teachers and have them display gratitude by gifting the teachers red apples. Malai, along with fellow interns and a few volunteers, was instrumental in coordinating and executing the project. He and his team took less than two days to wrap 3,000 apples in special gift packages, paired with customized notes of appreciation. These apples were then hand-delivered to 19 schools all over Singapore.

Through WLOTP, Malai was able to reflect back on his personal school experiences in Brunei. His involvement in WLOTP enabled him to indirectly convey his appreciation for his teachers as he was able to inspire many other students to say “thank you” to their teachers before it was too late.

He said: “When I was in school, I felt that I did not show enough gratitude towards my teachers. Looking back, I want to reach out to them again.

“They were the unsung heroes that shaped me into the person that I am today, and I have so much to thank them for.”

While UBD students are busy dedicating themselves to volunteer work and community development, they may sometimes feel overwhelmed or they may even start to doubt themselves. Farah was able to relate to this feeling and said: “I am constantly doubting (my work’s) quality and (always seek) to improve it. I constantly found myself doubting my capability to efficiently perform due to (how anxious I was) of making mistakes.

“Nevertheless, the staff were always providing me with feedback and that demonstrates how carefully they had been observing my performance. I had been receiving assistance from my colleagues, as well as encouraging advice, on how to better my work.”

Adding on, UBD student Nathan Chong said: “I try to avoid making mistakes, but the staff often stressed that mistakes are all right, so long as we can grow from it.” Nathan was a Heartware intern in 2017.

In the course of their internship at Heartware, interns from UBD are able to develop their leadership skills through project planning and execution. There are many opportunities for these interns to test their abilities and pick up new skills. “I expected the workload to be heavier and harder to manage,” said Xiao Hui.

“HWN is a bigger organisation with more programmes and local beneficiaries, which means more local events leading to more tasks. The tasks were many but they were (mostly) manageable.

“We’re all one big family at HWN, and I was able to adapt quickly because of the warm and welcoming working environment here.”

Xiao Hui (second from the left) meeting some of our seniors from the Heartware Support Our Pioneers Programme.

Along the way, mistakes may happen but interns can be assured that the feedback they receive is purely constructive, and they can always rely on their colleagues for guidance and support. For most interns, internships are their first experience in the working world. Hence, having kind and understanding colleagues can go a long way in ensuring a quality learning experience for interns.

Echoing this sentiment, Farah said: allowed me the freedom to explore my potential without having to feel embarrassed or discouraged by my shortcomings. I found this to be an extremely healthy factor in one’s growth and confidence.

“Interning at Heartware Network has provided me with a safe space that allowed me to personally grow in terms of building a stronger mental fortitude. I will continue to encourage my juniors to explore their opportunities with Heartware Network.”