October 17, 2021

Unpaid internship in Singapore – The meticulous explain

I was a marketing student in Singapore who was studying at a private university. Being a private university student, I kept in mind that finding a job after graduation was quite a challenge. It actually was. I struggled to find an internship in my break time, around 4 months, between diploma course to degree course. I did not get my ideal internship which was a digital marketing position both because of my incomplete skills and my certificate. Then, I had been thinking the whole night about how I can find an internship to get the experience while the internship itself requires applicants to have experience in order to be preferred. After thinking for several nights, I had my answer for that question. Unpaid internship in Singapore! An unpaid internship does not require applicants to have high experience, skills or certificates from applicants.

Compare to paid internship, unpaid internship was an easier door to step in for me. I got a part-time unpaid internship while I was still studying degree at my university. I only went to the company at the time when I did not have to go to school. Moreover, my job was supporting social media channels, so I can do my job even when I stay at home. It was really flexible for me and I learned a lot.

Image source: Burst

How to do unpaid internship in Singapore while you still have to live

The average of cost living for myself in Singapore was around S$1,000 – S$1,500. It was a frugal lifestyle. My need was really simple, so I didn’t regularly hang out in a luxury place or shopping. After graduation, I took one more unpaid internship for 3 months. You may ask how I could survive in Singapore while doing job without salary. For my case, I borrowed money from my parents. In detail, my parents stopped supporting me after I finished my degree. However, I borrowed my parents a few thousand bucks to survive while doing an unpaid internship in Singapore. If you think it was quite a big amount, no, it was not because if you got a job after finished unpaid internship, you can pay your parents after a few months of working. I think it worth it.

Is unpaid internship legal in Singapore?

According to Online Citizen news which interviewed Mr Tan, an Assistant Professor of Law, Singapore Management University, who said that an unpaid internship arrangement cannot be faulted on legal grounds if both the employer and the intern agree to the terms of the agreement.

You can read this  article ” How to get an internship in Singapore “ to understand the regulations for foreigners to have internship in Singapore.

Ideal time to do an unpaid internship

In most countries in Asia, parents still support their children until they finish college or university. In contrast, young people in Western culture have to stay out of their parents’ house and take a loan from the government for university fees after 18 years old. The most ideal time for you to do unpaid internship is either when you are still a student or you are a fresh graduate. During university years, there are many break terms or summer holidays for students to take a rest, normally around 3-6 months. Hence, students can take an unpaid internship to work as a part of their study. If you think positively, it is a free course, not an unpaid internship.

For fresh graduates such as my case, it is a good time to make an attractive resume which should consist of some work experiences. Hence, while waiting for a university certificate, doing an unpaid internship is not a bad idea. Moreover, you have more things to fill in the gaps in your resume.

Benefits of unpaid internship

#It will provide you with valuable experiences

This is probably the most important advantage of an unpaid internship. You can find that class time is boring and invaluable; at that time, do an internship where you can learn many things that cannot be taught inside a classroom. During unpaid internships, you can also apply the theories and practices that you’ve learned at the school. Hence, you can have a practical understanding of the subjects.

#It will be advantageous for your future employment

Most students choose to do internships because of the opportunities that internships can bring them after their graduation. Normally, many interns get paid jobs in companies that they have completed their unpaid internships at the same organizations. Businesses choose to do so because they have already had a close relationship with the interns. Moreover, they do not have to spend much time and money training the interns, as enrolling new interns can cost them much.

Besides, with your working knowledge and hands-on experiences relating to a specific field, or even some sectors, you can easily land your dream job, either in the company of your internship or others of the fields that you have been experienced with.

#It will be a significant point in your resume

A strong resume, with a series of internship experiences during your school time, will be one of the most crucial points for employers to consider when they look at the candidates’ applications.

When looking at your resume, a hiring manager not only be interested in your transcripts or GPA but also in what practical experiences you have gained during the time you are a student.

#It will help you develop a professional networking

When searching for a new job, professional networking plays a crucial role. You can develop personal connections and receive mentoring during the internship, which you cannot have in a classroom. Developing strong networking during the unpaid internships can help you find quality jobs when you graduate and apply for full-time positions.

Moreover, including an unpaid internship on your resume shows the potential employers that you are willing to work hard regardless of the employment terms.

#It will provide you with a lot of fun

When you are working in a team of other interns, you all seem to be in the same boat in terms of not getting paid. You are there to learn, so internships are supposed to be fun. Many people have shared that their unpaid internships were the most fun they have ever had at jobs. They do not feel like working, because they loved what they are doing and they are not worried about getting paid.

#It will give you some other perks

During unpaid internships, you will not receive money, but other compensations for cash, such as extra incentives in terms of free food or travel expenses. You can also have chances to get add-on learning to experiences. For example, meeting with leading industrialists and innovators in your sector.


What is the red flag while doing unpaid internships

There are some typical red flags to look out to avoid menial tasks as unpaid internships.

You do not learn much

One of the main targets of an internship is to achieve skills and experiences related to the industry that you are interested in and want to break into. If you are doing menial tasks such as grabbing coffee orders for others in the company, emptying the garbage, filing documents, doing basic administrative work, or taking the responsibilities without proper instructions, you are not really doing an internship.

However, it is acceptable to do some tasks to help out when the workplace is too busy. Writer Avery Johnson from Career Contessa, adding it is okay to ask the interns to help. However, remember that is not the reason they are at the organizations.

You are not receiving guidance from your manager/supervisor

Your supervisor is responsible for checking in and monitoring your progress with the tasks you have assigned you with. If you are not receiving any training from your manager/supervisor as you initially signed up for, this means your manager/supervisor may not realize you worth as an intern in their company.

Ideally, your manager/supervisor should oversee how you are doing, provide feedback if necessary, and be available no matter how busy they seem.

You are working less than part-time hours

As an intern, you may not have been expecting a full-time work schedule. However, it will be a red flag of unpaid internships if you are doing less than part-time hours. If the interviewer initially said that your working hours was around 25 hours per week during your unpaid internship; but you actually get 12, you should plan a meeting with your manager/supervisor to discuss the issue. You should discuss the number of hours and let them know that the internship is under expectations.

It takes time to learn how to do anything well. You may not have been expecting a full-time work schedule, but are receiving less than you’d hoped or been told. You may not learn all you expected because you’re not working much.

Thank you for reading til the end of “Unpaid internship in Singapore – The meticulous explain”


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