6-week worth of experience

Just ended my pre-internship. Not a big deal as compared to the real upcoming internship next year. But it was a great exposure and worthy experience. It was supposed to be 2 months, but then things weren’t really going as planned and I have to cut it to only 6 weeks.

Speaking in the aspect of language, I would say doing an internship at a company dominated 100% by Malays aren’t going to help you much. And it got worse when all discussions and conversations happened in local dialect. Not a single English word used unless you are talking about certain technical terms or reading an English newspaper.

Experience-wise, it was still great. It came to a point when I realized there was a day and night difference between what I learnt at the campus with what knowledge did the real-working life demanded. Graduate with a CGPA of 2.99? No worry. You still stand a chance to be employed by a good employer. Of course there are also still many other aspects to be considered. But heck yeah, don’t feel too worry about that.

I did my pre-internship at a consulting engineers company. I was given a task to complete a bill quantity (BQ) for a service apartment project and did tender and technical data comparisons for five electrical and mechanical services. Dealt with lot of numbers and technical terms and here came a major problem; for a fresh trainee with zero technical knowledge and unrelated theoretical campus-brand knowledge, in which I could hardly remember quarter of what I had learnt for 5 semesters in electrical and electronic engineering – suiting self well in any discussions and meetings.

No they neither give me a 10-inch thick reference book nor specific links to study all the terms and all the short-forms used in the company and any documents. Adapt fast, do own researches, keep asking and be efficient. Or else you’ll have your boss standing at your desk, tapping the desk, scolding you for being late and slow in completing your task.

I had a pretty rough relationship with the electrical principal of the company. But lucky enough that I had a good time with the Chief Operating of the Office (COO). At times yes I did get scolded but he just knew to use the right tune in the right circumstance. Regardless of the relationships, both of them still provided bunch of advices and revealed what they actually demanded from trainees.

If you think you can survive throughout the period by being good with the bosses; you are wrong. I would say that I knew more about the company; be it the history or the real individual relationships and behaviours – from the staff. Go to hell with the organizational chart. Get well with all people. Be it with the cleaner, the draftman, the office boy or the clerk. Each of them play their own part to complete the puzzle in your mind.

I was bad at Calculus. And I was grateful that I just need basic primary maths knowledge to do the required calculations. Aside from understanding the technical terms used, another problem I had at the company was to translate Malay technical terms as used in JKR’s material schedule into English terms. Not even Google Translate can help, if you are about to suggest that.

And one important thing that almost every staff including the staff from the neighbouring company told me was, you HAVE TO KNOW how to use AutoCAD. It is pretty unfortunate that EE course in UTP has not included AutoCAD as part of our courses. It is one essential add-value for EE engineering graduates, especially when you want to work at a consulting engineers company.

When you are confronting your bosses on certain issues, make sure you are solution-driven and not problem-driven. The employers expect you to come with your own opinions and sayings. They might sound stupid but hey, you are trainees and you are pretty much as dumb as a newly-born babies. Effort. That’s what the employers are looking into you.

Ask questions. This is one thing that every single lecturer that you have ever met in your life will tell you in almost every class you go. And yes, the employers want you to ask questions not just sitting at your desk, blinking your eyes, staring at the desk, clicking on reply button on Twitter and send button on Facebook. In every opportunity you have whenever you step out of meetings and discussions, ask them questions to clarify your understanding. They aren’t going to go to your table, pat on your shoulder and ask you what you want to know more. If you do expect them to spoon-feed you, then you have to restart your tertiary education from the very first semester.

Most of the things I mentioned are actually the same things that you have heard and knew all these while. But most of us tend to ignore and mark them as less important. At the campus, we are already exposed to such things. What real-working life demands can be different from what you learn throughout your study but without those basics and foundations, you can’t build an understanding on what you are going to perceive and learn when you start to work. I did mention there was a day and night difference but I didn’t mention they were useless. Both are inter-related.