Evangelista Grace

Internship and some more happenings amid COVID-19

So clearly it’s been a while since the last I updated in this blog, and a lot has happened since then. I will briefly go through what’s happened in the past THREE months! Yes, a lot has happened despite COVID-19 and I’m going to try my best to summarize it.

⚠️Warning: Long post ahead.

Post MCO 🥳

I consider myself somewhat lucky to have completed my last semester of classes in college just before the lockdown started. My friends and I even managed to throw a pre-graduation party for a graduation that is sadly, as it turns out, not going to happen this year. In hindsight, it was probably one of the most silliest thing to do, to throw a party amid the outbreak. Thankfully, none of the attendees were affected before or after the party. Okay, let’s be honest, this party was one of the most exciting thing that has happened to me in college. I had to put that out there.

I headed back home on 16th March, just two days before the nation went on lockdown. My plan was to spend a week with my family before I moved to Ipoh and commenced my internship. Little did I know that there would be major changes to my plans, starting from 18th March.

Start of MCO 😷

Fellow Malaysians have been living under the Movement Control Order (MCO) since the government announced it on 18th March. Under the MCO, we were not allowed to leave our homes except for emergency matters or for other exceptions, like buying groceries, albeit limited to only the head of the house being able to do so. The lockdown was initially said to last for two weeks. The company I was supposed to intern in informed me that I will be starting only after two weeks. This pushback got extended for another two more weeks, with the introduction of MCO phase 2, which saw thighter restrictions amid the rise in infections. During this time of supposed idleness, I busied myself with some online courses, finished Black Mirror, binge-watched Season 1 of Westworld, and finished reading Where the Crawdads Sing. Very. Productive.

Start of internship 👩‍💻

It’s been nearly a month now under MCO and the government had announced yet another extension of MCO - MCO phase 3. By now, most Malaysians were aware that the battle with COVID-19 was far from over and that the nation was to undergo several more MCO extensions or CMCO as it will come to be known as later on. My internship company realized it was time for me to get started with my internship - it was work from home (at that time I was not sure it this was yay or nay). They issued me a revised offer letter, stating that I was to officially start my internship from 16th April. I was not the only one who faced a pushback in my internship start date. Most of my peers faced the same thing too with their internship. My university was aware of this matter and let us start not later than 22nd April and the end date was maintained to be 21st June. This period is less than the standard 3 months of internship. But we all had to adapt anyhow.

We all had to adapt anyhow indeed. Starting internship from home, with zero experience working in the field, mind you, felt OVERWHELMING. Firstly, conversation was hard. Online platforms or social media can only do so much to convey your thoughts or what you really mean. For me, it was particularly hard to show my understanding in areas where I understood the material very well and it was even more daunting to ask about the parts where I lacked understanding or needed more clarification. Don’t get me wrong, the small team of people I am working with are very understanding, probably one of the most patient people who have to handle the mishaps and mischief of interns. We are all trying our best to understand one another but along the lines, you can expect misunderstanding and very annoyingly, under-communication. That goes for both sides.

Then there was the immense project codes. I mean this is probably what I should be expecting anyway. Point is, if you’re a software-intern-to be, expect that you will be dealing with many lines of code and depending on the number and size of projects your company has, you might even get ping-ponged around, from one supervisor to another, from one project/task to another. And that’s part of the job. This was all new for me in the beginning, and needless to say, I felt quite overwhelmed. After a month plus of interning, I can say I’ve learned a thing or two about dealing with stress and overwhelmingness during internship. Here’s some lessons I’ve learnt:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. There’s a reason this advice gets repeated anywhere you go.
  • Bury your ego. Seriously, let that rot and die somewhere out of reach of you. Dude at the workplace said something you’ve already known? Nod and probe more questions if needed. Think you vaguely know something and would rather ‘research’ and find out the solution yourself? Sure, but single out and ask questions that need to be asked upfront - especially when dealing with conventions, best practices and making use of existing helper modules/functions
  • Listen to instrumental music. It helps you to focus and channel your concentration on your work by setting just the right mood, cutting the clutter of words that might distract you. I would recommend instrumentals by Ludovico Einaudi, James Horner and Max Richter.
  • Good character and mannerisms can come a long way. Humility and friendliness can earn you friends and help buid your social network at your workplace.
  • Having the right mindset is important. I probably saved the best for the last. This was the single most useful lesson I had learnt. Having the right mindset, to me, means to be open to receiving criticisms and translating that into a meaningful lesson and/or experience. Having the right mindset I believe, will help you achieve the first, second and fourth points above.

Move to Ipoh ✈️

With yet another MCO extension announced (CMCO or MCO 5th phase), the company had been making some plans to come back to office with an SOP in place. I didn’t want to get left behind so I jumped at the opportunity that came with the eased movement restriction to pack my bags and travel interstate to Ipoh. Interstate travel was allowed for only a brief period, from May 7 - May 10. But I couldn’t get a written letter from the company that gave me permission to travel because they had not been officially approved by MiTi to operate during MCO. This was pre-CMCO, while the restrictions for non-essential businesses to operate were still in place. Soon after, CMCO was announced and the company gave me a letter that gave me permission to travel to return to office. Once I was given the greenlight, I informed my boyfriend about my plans to first shift my things that were stranded in my campus hostel. Next, it was checkout and move to Ipoh. Don’t get fooled by how easy this sounds. Kudos to my patient boyfriend for bearing with the amount of things I had stuffed in my tiny hostel room, the dust it had collected over three years of living in campus hostel, and moving these things to my house and finally to Ipoh. Whew.

Moving forward 💭

Here I am all alone in my room, on a Tuesday night, typing my thoughts out on a keyboard my boyfriend gifted me for my internship. Sure, I’m missing everyone back at home, especially him. But this place, this room, this work, it’s gonna be my daily thing for the next 5 months. As mundane as this sounds, I am looking forward to exploring Ipoh, possibly other parts of Perak too while I’m here, building a good rapport with the colleagues, and stacking up some experiences while I’m at this chapter of my life.

On another note, working from home hasn’t been too bad afterall. For one, I don’t have to wake up super early to get ready for work. I’m also saved the delimma of picking clothes to wear. Then there’s the bed for a quick power nap (shhh don’t tell my boss). For what it’s worth, work-from-home may be more widespread in a world post-COVID. I’m unopinionated at the moment about this being a good or a bad thing as I have yet to experience working in the office. I’m just going to enjoy this while it lasts.

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