By Nathaniel Niko, of the House Fintan (St. Joseph's Institution), The Soggy Sotong, Survivor of the IB Diploma Programme, Prince of Biology, Breaker of Extended Essays, Aspiring Ice Cream Man, Statistics Savage, Hunter of Emails, Stalker of People, Newbie Tour Guide... and intern at Skillseed!
Xin Er: Nathaniel what are your plans until you enlist in April?
Now that you say it, let me have a look...
Fresh out of the IB Diploma Programme at St. Joseph’s Institution, I looked at my calendar. January was to be spent holidaying and preparing for University applications. In February, I would juggle between healthcare shadowing and applications. I glared at March. A wide, gaping space speckled with numbers stared back at me with foreboding.
3 months later
Before I could even say "mushroom", my month-long volunteer internship with Skillseed has come to a close. Short as it may be, I was surprised at how much I could contribute to its cause, the insight I gained into how social enterprises function, and bonds I could forge with the people of this office.
When people think of internships, especially in an office environment, many think that they are delegated minor, meaningless chores, such as printing papers, bringing coffee, and being teased by co-workers (@Hema). Instead, I was stunned by the unique roles I was given, to conduct Research and Development for youth outreach and their courses. Hence, I spent a good portion of my time looking at survey data, extracting patterns from them. One of the most important trends that I noticed was how many youths want to volunteer but are often too caught up with academics and CCAs to do so. As a youth volunteer myself, such sentiment resonates strongly with me too, raising questions on the way we view youth volunteerism as something more than just fulfilling arbitrary ‘hours’ prescribed by schools.
As for outreach, my focus was mainly on GPSA, a program I recently participated in last year. This time, I’ve established for myself the new title of stalker – no, not the creepy kind. Instead, in order to assist youth outreach, I’ve hunted for contacts among different Junior Colleges and Polytechnics, to help spread the word about such an incredible, insightful journey into community healthcare in America. Experiencing first-hand how hard it is to get youths onboard has made me more appreciative of the effort social enterprises like Skillseed puts into their outreach process, and even more grateful that I received word of the program in the first place.
Furthermore, I was also tasked with consolidating areas that the IB Diploma Programme was focusing on, assessing potential avenues for incorporating academics into Skillseed courses. By knowing what schools are starting to place an emphasis on, such research can help Skillseed further refine their course offerings. Through this research, I found great meaning in my role as an intern, knowing that what I’ve found can be relevant long after I’ve left.
Oh, did I mention that literally everyone came to my house on the second week? Little did I know during our first weekly scrum meeting that Skillseed had planned to come to Skyville@Dawson to learn more about how this award-winning building balances high-density living with both social and environmental sustainability. I soon landed a role as a Newbie Tour Guide, granting Skillseed insight into its features that bring sustainability to life, though it was rather unfortunate the Ayam Penyet Stall was closed that day…
Work aside, I’ve come to really love the staff of Skillseed, first for making me feel really included in this tiny office, and second for all the little actions and peculiarities I’ve come to look forward to.
First, nothing is more welcoming than some good pencil whacking, followed by introducing me to Skillseed’s snack culture, be it some flavoured granola or sweets from China. While I’ve lived in Singapore my entire life, I couldn’t believe I had gone on so long without checking out the various food places around the office, be it from vegetarian at Nature Harvest Café to value-for-money Mee Pok at Lavender, from the amazing Punggol Nasi Lemak to sweets at Muffles. Safe to say I was well fed during my internship!!
I also thoroughly enjoyed our close working environment, where we could intermittently share stories or engage in deep conversation with colleagues. A youngster myself, I gained much more insight into what life is like in your twenties and even greater insight at the numerous interesting activities that light up the social landscape in Singapore. Our little fika channel, where we could share non-work related articles, was another opportunity to observe the work of other social organizations and events, giving me an idea of a vibrant social life in Singapore that I didn’t know of before. Finally, one of my favourite quirks of the Skillseed office is 'mushrooms' – something that we say when we accidentally make feet contact, a reminder that we work together on one cozy table. In retrospect, this table that is often taken for granted, could be a symbol of the small yet strong Skillseed community.
Thank you Skillseed for giving me the opportunity to work with you guys! This was one super fun and fulfilling one month, and all the best in your future endeavours!
P.S. Happy Birthday Huijia*!
*Huijia – Defined as the boss of Skillseed, aka Huijiathegreat, she is a stellar boss. Lover of hamsters and anything else that is cute, belying her humour lies a strongly compassionate individual who fiercely believes in youth empowerment. Armed with her trusty pencil, ‘new’ Macbook and great orator skills, she inspires youths to find their Passion, Purpose and Potential (trademarked by Skillseed) in life to make a difference in society.