Staying at home to draft proposals based on “fake events” was not what Cynthia Ng had envisioned when she joined the company that had organised events like Fintech Festival and The Music Run.

The 20-year-old Temasek Polytechnic Leisure and Events Management student was meant to work on the ground with the events management company from March to July as part of her internship requirement in her third year of study. 

“The events that they do are very interesting,” she says, sharing her initial excitement when she landed the internship. 

Polytechnics have a curriculum that prepares students for the workforce. A highlight of the diploma programme is the opportunity for students to have a work attachment with related industry companies in their final year of study. 

With the circuit breaker in place to slow the spread of Covid-19 since April 7, many scheduled events like concerts, conferences and festivals have been postponed or cancelled. 

Cynthia Ng (top, left) at an Earth Hour event during her internship.
Photo by: Cynthia Ng

Cynthia managed to work on only one event before the circuit breaker kicked in. It’s uncertain if there’ll be more events for her to work on in the coming months. 

Her mid-term performance is meant to be graded soon, but there haven’t been enough opportunities for her to prove herself. Thankfully, her school has decided to drop the mid-term appraisal for affected students.

“I think there is still time towards the end of the internship so I will just try to do as much and learn as much as possible,” says Cynthia. 

She’s also grateful that her supervisor took the trouble to assign her “hypothetical events” to plan for so she can still learn from his guidance and feedback. She adds that she feels lucky compared to her batch mates.

“A lot of my other course mates got their internship cancelled or they are really doing nothing now so I’m still getting experience.”

No Internship? GrabFood.

Aerospace Technology student Edmund Han has been delivering for Grabfood since his internship was suspended on April 7.

Edmund Han (Left) working on a school project.
Photo by: Edmund Han

Before the suspension, the 21-year-old Ngee Ann Polytechnic student was serving at an aircraft management company, learning to liaise with customers and engineers working on different aircrafts. 

To kill time and earn an income, Edmund now delivers for GrabFood every Sunday to Friday.

“I used to cancel orders that are below $3 to $4, but now it’s all about the incentive,” he says.

He explains that there is an incentive system for Grab riders, where they will receive a cash reward for a minimum number of deliveries fulfilled. 

“For a weekday incentive, you need to collect 90 orders for a bonus of $140. There was one time I chiong (Singlish: rush) for 90 orders in a week, but each day I had to do 20 orders which is an average of two orders per hour.” 

After he’s done with the deliveries, he will be home to take an online course assigned by his school for students with suspended internships. 

“It’s compulsory and counted in our grades. There’s a quiz and involves programming,” he says.

Like Cynthia, Edmund also expresses a degree of uncertainty regarding his internship.

He says that he may forget what was learnt in the first month of internship and may have to relearn everything when he returns. “It was said by the end of internship we would have handled one project by ourselves … but can we still handle it by ourselves?”

Momo Chan, a 19-year-old production intern, worries about the limited projects that she can take part in as the shoots “come and go”.

Momo Chan working on pre-production materials at work
Photo by: Momo Chan

The Ngee Ann Polytechnic student is attached to a production company where she is supposed to help with pre-production, conducting market research, casting calls and scripting.

She reported to work for 3 weeks before her internship was suspended. “I’ve only experienced student shoots and this internship was my first time being in an actual production company with real clients,” she says.

Volunteering, Another Way To Pass Time

These days, Momo is volunteering at her neighbourhood Community Center (CC), helping to distribute meals to healthcare workers and their families, or lower-income Muslim families that break fast in the evenings. 

“I thought since I have a lot of free time, might as well use it for some good cause. It’s just a few hours out of my week.”

To maximise her time, the Mass Communication student also started trying to apply for writing jobs online that allow her to work from home. 

Although the 3 students aren’t able to get the full internship experience, they say they don’t feel shortchanged. They are also optimistic that their future employers will not penalise them for serving a shorter internship. 

“I don’t think it affects my ability to enter the industry in the future,” Momo says. 

For Edmund, he believes that his future employers can empathise with his situation.

“The whole world knows there’s a pandemic. We can’t be blamed for having only 4 months of internship. It’s not fair to be honest and I am sure [companies] can understand,” he says.