My internship experience at Jai Financial
A second-year student at Singapore Management University, I had plenty of experience studying for exams and completing tasks with clear guidelines. That is what I had been trained in in primary school, then secondary school, and then Junior College. However, I knew something was lacking. Is the key to success really answering a list of questions correctly, within a stipulated time? Is life always going to give me very clear and specific instructions on what I need to do?
I knew I needed to get a taste of the real world and challenges of working in a company as soon as possible. My father advised me to work in a start-up or SME in my internship because he believed I will get more hands-on experience that will be valuable in the long-run. Heeding his advice, I took up the Digital Marketing internship offered at Jai Financial.
When I joined, the marketing department was relatively new, and there was much work to be done to spread the company’s brand awareness. From day one, I was working on the marketing plan for the company. Also, not only I was given instructions on what to do, I was empowered by my colleagues and boss to think on my feet and propose my own ideas as well, using my background in marketing from an entrepreneurship club I was in.
Through the entire journey, there were some salient learning points that will stick with me for life. As a marketing intern, one of the first things I learnt was to know your product well…very well. Although I was not accounting-trained, it was crucial for me to understand the accounting services and software Jai Financial offered. This dawned on me when I was asked by my colleague to answer a phone enquiry regarding our services. I hesitated to answer in the fear that I could not respond to an accounting-related query. That is when I realised that to confidently market my product or service, I had to know it inside-out…even if it was complicated.
Also, this experience provided me with a valuable insight: when faced with a business problem, often, it is better to “fail fast and learn fast” rather than to spend valuable time over-analysing every alternative. There was a time when I was unsure which email prospecting strategy would get the most leads for our accounting service. A short and direct one? A long and information-packed one? Educational or problem-solution format? The more email template options I saw online, the more I pondered.
Fortunately, my boss was very action-oriented, and he impressed on me the importance of acting quick, failing, measuring response, then acting again. In marketing terminology, this was akin to A/B testing, where you test and compare two or more marketing strategies and determine the better performing one. We are often afraid of failure, so we hesitate and let the opportunity pass. However, I realised that it is often wiser to utilise every opportunity while putting aside your fear of failure. At best you will succeed, and at worst you will gain wisdom.
Thanks to a module I took on managing people at work in SMU, I was aware that understanding office politics and culture, and embodying it, was just as important as working hard to deliver quality work. The internship became a “practical exam” for me to see if I could apply the theory I had learnt in university. Through the internship I realised that it was difficult, but very possible, to juggle my work with assimilating myself into the team. This meant taking time to get to know colleagues and bosses, observing how they behaved and interacted with each other and networking with people, even in other departments. The key is to be conscientious and to manage time for both work and building social capital.
Going forward, I am hungry for more experiences, and opportunities to grow. Jai Financial has provided me with a solid foundation for my corporate career and I am grateful for that. It has taught me the importance of joining a team with a clear, positive culture and a common goal which I can emulate. Now, on to my next journey.