Interning as an adult: Exploring career switches and new opportunities in a creative industry
Brave new world
2020 has been a strange year as a whole — with many firsts to maneuver, many obstacles paved, and wildcards aplenty. But never did I expect that one of them would be going through an internship in an industry that I had never once considered — at the sweet ripe age of 29. Or what many would now deem, a minternship. Definition: A mid-career internship, and simply put, an internship for adults.
The year of the global pandemic was undeniably difficult, and I, like many others around the world, was retrenched after my firm's major restructure. In the same week in September when I turned 29, I lost my job after spending seven years in the banking industry. The news did come as a shock, but as someone with financial stability and a supportive family behind me, I saw it as an opportunity to take on a different stint, instead of diving straight back into the rat race. A chance to pivot and go beyond what I always knew and to experience an industry that I was always deeply curious about.
An editorial internship opportunity came up during a coffee catch-up, and I knew that this would be the best way to make use of the three months ahead, while at the same time, also heading out for job interviews in lieu of 2021's forecast. I was keen on accessing my ability as a creative and also sharpening my writing skills, away from less straining topics like oil and finance. Hence, I became the oldest intern ever hired in Buro. Singapore's history. Indeed, that fact alone can be pretty confronting.
The first day was an eye-opener from the get-go: casual work attire was one thing, but my first assignment was another. For someone who extracted rates for a living, I was tasked to pull out trending make up looks from celebrities — some of them I didn't know existed. Of course, the topics every day went on a wide spectrum. From skincare ingredients, to learning the Great Unknown of TikTok, to picking up new ways one could say "delicious", there was never a dull day in learning the ropes of editorial. But also, deeply stressful.
Especially when you feel like a fish out of water. But the most important thing in an minternship? Lay down your ego. It's easy to feel at a disadvantage when taking a massive paycut to backtrack to an intern, but I felt assured in what my next steps were and what this three-month stint could do for the rest of my career so I perservered. Balancing the hours between motherhood, chores, and researching for my next story, my minternship was undoubtedly challenging, but there was never a day where I wasn't learning something new.
In a span of one short month, I was inducted in a whole new world. Things that I never knew: the ingredient list behind skincare boxes, the existence of Grower's Champange compared to a bottle at Cold Storage, and all the Netflix hits that went beyond my typical watchlist. Once you've got over the fact that your superiors at work are younger than you, nothing will hold you back from learning, and having fun.
It is still early to ascertain how good a writer I could be at this juncture or if it is an industry I would be pursuing in the long-term. But it showed me that there are always options — more than you could ever imagine for yourself, when you've trudged through the same career for more than five years.
There are never any losses in exploring your options for a short stint. Keep an open mind to the new environment and embrace the changes — be it in social or job description. There are more gains from new experiences once you're determined to give it your best shot. Once you've done that, age really is just a number and a new season for yourself awaits.