Teodor Necula is a student at the University of Bath in England and studies Business Administration.  Having the opportunity to get some work experience outside of his studies, Teodor applied for an internship with us in our Singapore office and gives an account of just what it was like for him to get a taste of the world of work.

Finding the perfect internship or placement is probably impossible, but Tigerspike manages to come close. In the past two years, I’ve worked in 3 very different placements as part of my University degree at Bath so I would say I had a little idea of what to expect, generally. However, on joining the Tigerspike Singapore team, and working as a UX Research Intern, I wasn’t quite ready for just how rewarding the experience would be.

My First Day and Week

Picture this: you walk into a new environment and do not know anyone or any of the discussion topics going on around you. As daunting as it seemed, one thing Tigerspike does a great job at is making you feel welcome as soon as you step into the office. I remember arriving 30 minutes early and meeting Ryne, our Technical Lead, as soon as I walked in. He was nice enough to show me around the communal area and teach me the essentials (like how to make myself a cup of coffee!), while giving me an overview of his time in Tigerspike. It sounded great!

Just as we got deeper into discussion, the Weekly kick-off was about to start. That was my first look into how things worked at Tigerspike. The week was well thought out in advance, with clear directions for projects, social activities, human resources and team updates. This is  where you get introduced to the office and get the chance to say a few words (but you don’t have to, if you don’t want to!). The keen eye for detail that Tigerspike has continued to impress me: my welcome booklet contained not only all I needed to know about the office, but also nice cafés and places for food nearby.

My first day went by very quickly, as I got introduced to all my new colleagues, including my manager and mentor. But what I could feel more than that was the feeling of a community. Everyone in the office seemed genuinely happy to be there and do their job. Even though the Singapore office is quite large and adds up to almost 50 people, the feeling of a close family is still there.

In my first few days, I tried to take in as much information as I could to be prepared for what was coming. I was lucky to have been given a great mentor, who made me understand the depth and requirements of the project that I was going to be working on for the length of my placement. This is another great feature of Tigerspike: the moment you start, you are placed on a project so it is clear that you will be an involved member of a team. Not only will you be guided at every step of the project in case you need it, but you will also have the chance to learn and personally develop the exact skills you are interested in.  

Another nice touch from Tigerspike was inviting me to all the social activities going on straight from Monday, so I could actually attend them in my first week. Not only do you get the chance to meet and bond with the team much faster than usual, but you can also relax or be active with your colleagues. To recap: every Wednesday afternoon there is a communal sports activity (basketball, football, or boot-camp) where the whole office is invited.

Whether the turn-out is high or low, those events are great. It is always good fun when you realize how competitive some of your colleagues are, but also a bit tragic when you comprehend how bad you play compared to others. But, it’s more about the experience of having an enjoyable time with your colleagues, not about the final score! The second weekly activity in the Singaporean office is for the early birds. Every Friday morning before work there is a special bootcamp provided just for the Tigerspike office in the gym next door.  

Even though it may feel like the world’s going to end while you are in there, the extra kick of energy and positivity you get once you’ve done it will get you through Friday in no time. At the end of the day comes the Friday Quiz which is another amazing opportunity to bond with the office even more, by trying to outdo the other teams and answer the trickiest questions.

For those who fancy hanging around for longer, the day usually continues with an informal dinner where you can relax and fully enjoy that end-of-the-week feeling. I can assure you that by the end of my first week in Tigerspike, I already felt I belonged to the family!

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What I Learned

I have never had the chance to work on real life projects. But my university assignments did give me an insight into what it could be like so that definitely helped when I started this role.

The initial 2 months seemed very similar to what I was used to: understanding stakeholders’ requirements, building a feasible project scope, planning out all the steps along the journey and dividing the workload in an organized manner. These were just some of the steps initially taken by the team. And this is why I consider the process of getting used to the job very smooth. I learnt that completely understanding the project and the client will not come straight away. There may be a lot of back and forth, research and re-research and accommodating requests that could seem like a lengthy process to some. Hence, the most important skills I think you need for a position in a project would be: flexibility, patience and motivation. In my opinion, staying motivated is crucial. Fortunately, for me this came naturally as I find it very easy to stay focused and driven as long as I feel that I am learning from the experience that I am part of. And this was exactly the case for me here at Tigerspike.

Working as a Researcher allowed me to accumulate knowledge on different topics and then translate these into the project. Completing the initial competitive analysis for the client gave me the opportunity to grow a great awareness of the industry that Tigerspike operates in, the trends and technology available in it as well as what the big players are doing well and not so well. But, as with any other industry, there is a lot of information available online about it, so it is important to understand there will be time restraints. A balance between time and quality has to always be maintained and this is what Tigerspike always aim to achieve i.e. delivering business value, fast.

Expect challenges

Having been on my project for almost 2 months, life seemed great. The client was generally happy with the progress and the team was going at the pace initially set out. Little did I know that in reality not all projects go exactly to plan. What I learned is that in this situation having a good Project Manager and an open-mind is essential. Solutions can always be found as long as co-operation between both sides exists. Yes, a compromise usually has to be made, that can come in different shapes and sizes. Even if it is allocating more resource or more time to the project or even flying into the client’s base to better understand their requests, what is important to understand is: there is always a way! And when times get tough, it is the team that pulls it together. It was the positivity and the enthusiasm of the team that got us through the hardest and most stressful times, but we were always in there together.

Relocating and adjusting to a new country

If you are like me and enjoy moving around the world, it might come as a pleasant surprise to hear that Tigerspike has 10 international offices. This means that you could be moving into a different country for your internship, just as I did.

Having already left home when I was 18 years old to study in the UK, I was now facing a new relocation. This time from the UK to Singapore. I had mixed feelings about getting on a 13 hour flight across the world. Little did I know that Singapore is actually the most Western city/country in Asia that you could be living in. I barely felt a cultural shock, especially since everyone spoke English all around me. I am not trying to say that Singapore is just a hot London, but in my case I found acclimatising to my new surroundings fairly easy. As general advice, as long as you do a bit of research on the city that you are aiming to relocate to and everything you read about it sounds reasonable to you, I am sure you will be fine.

I would say that the biggest advantage in relocating to a different city, especially to a different continent, is getting the chance to travel and understand new cultures. Singapore is greatly connected to all other parts of South-East Asia, so you will soon realise you are only one flight away from the majority of the places you always wished to go to. For me, this was one of the most unique selling points of relocating to Singapore. Travelling every other weekend out of Singapore, not only made it an exciting internship, but also made me enjoy the city more on the weekends when I was in it.

To wrap it up

Even though I had very high expectations coming into Tigerspike for a work opportunity, I can confess that it managed to surpass them. I enjoy every day in the office, every social activity with my colleagues and every success I can achieve with my team. For me, Tigerspike has been the best work experience I have ever had. What Tigerspike does great is caring about their people. To them, you will never be just an employee. You are more than that and Tigerspike understands it and treats their people very well. From personal development opportunities that are offered to the genuine concern  they have for your well-being, the company will make you feel at home very fast. If you were to join Tigerspike, you would be welcomed in a family, not just a workplace!

Words: Teodor Necula, UX Research Intern, Tigerspike Singapore 

Are you looking for an internship with us?

Tell us why you’d be the perfect fit for us!
E-mail us at jobs@tigerspike.com