October 23, 2018, by Shweta

Summer Internships Abroad: My Experiences in Singapore

A big part of getting older, and progressing through uni, is trying to cram your CV with as much as work experience as you can get your hands on. The list of benefits of spending your summer productively is a mile long and beats wasting away 3 months on your mum’s couch. As a medical student, summers are usually used to gear up for the gruelling year ahead, especially since we don’t get much time off once we start placements in third year. However, 3 months is quite a bit of time and so, I made the decision to apply privately to intern with the National Cancer Center in Singapore. There are many reasons why I chose that particular institution in that particular place but I’m here to tell you more about how you can enjoy both, a productive AND extremely fun holiday.

I applied for my internship about 6 months prior and expected nothing to come of it. After all, they didn’t have programs catered for someone of my qualifications (or lack thereof) and I didn’t use the university for backing as I applied privately. However, one wonderful doctor – who, spoiler alert, is now one of my most inspiring mentors – agreed to take me on. The next few months were spent organising my work visa, arranging for hostel accommodation and revising for finals as I didn’t want to have to take any resits.

After spending a month back home, I left for Singapore in late July. I spent the next 8 weeks in this beautiful city, learning from some amazing people, making new friends and experiencing new things. I stayed at the Matchbox Hostel in Ulu Pandan, which ironically enough was very spacious! Every day, I would take a bus to the National Cancer Center at Singapore General Hospital and work 9-5. My jobs included data analysis, learning various lab techniques, sitting in on oncology clinics and recruiting patients to various studies that were run by my mentor. Every evening, I would gallivant around town with my new friends, watching movies, going ice-skating, lazing around on Sentosa beach or going on hikes. I was blessed enough to have some friends from high-school studying in Singapore who showed me the ropes. I was even able to learn some Singlish!

The gorgeous views from outside my dorm room

Singapore Botanical Gardens – a world heritage site AND my favourite brunch spot!

This summer taught me that it is possible to successfully apply for internships that your department may not offer. It taught me that all work does not mean no play. It truly pushed me outside my comfort zone and made me significantly more confident, outspoken, trustworthy and adventurous. It allowed me to meet people who will be in my life for years to come and provided me with the most positive and supportive environment to learn and grow as a person. I truly recommend spending your summer abroad if you have the means to do so. What started off as a way to liven up my CV ended up being a life-changing experience that has undoubtedly impacted me greatly. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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