I underwent an attachment with the Chua Thian Poh Community Leadership Program (CTPCLP) from May to July 2016, and was assigned with the tasks for conducting an SROI project for CTPCLP itself as well as for an external community partner. I was also tasked to scope 3 projects that could potentially be taken up by the other CTPCLP Fellows.
The job scope is a lot more than just being an intern. There are no menial duties being assigned; most assignments are significant and necessitate brain work. Throughout the duration of work, spontaneous opportunities with external community partners may arise at the discretion of the supervisors too. For example, I was assigned to assist with a Family Service Centre for a specific project for approximately one week during my 8-week long attachment with CTPCLP.
The attachment was an extremely positive experience for me.
Firstly, there was a lot of autonomy given to us. Most tasks were assigned with very brief instructions and we had to undertake the tasks independently. While some might see this as a negative point, it gave us a lot of ownership over our work. Also, our supervisor was always available to offer us guidance and was very patient in doing so.
Secondly, I managed to acquire a new skill in the form of conducting an SROI exercise. Being a Real Estate major, research techniques were not skills that I would have acquired as part of my curriculum. As part of the SROI exercise, we had the opportunity to interview various Fellows to learn about their experiences and it was very inspiring to hear of how the Alumni had achieved so much with the program and it spurred me on to contribute more to the program.
Thirdly, the work environment was very good as there were outstanding peers who I worked alongside with and interacting with them allowed me to develop as a person greatly. Working with peers allowed us to engage in meaningful and constructive discussions regarding the projects we were working on. This helped to make up for the lack of a mentor per se. Despite the job being largely centred on research, we were rarely desk-bound, as there were many opportunities for site visits to places including Clementi Town Secondary School, St Joseph’s Home, Arts@Metta etc.
Lastly, we managed to rub shoulders with many people who we would usually not get in touch with on a regular basis and credit has to be given to our supervisor, who was always looking out for opportunities to provide us the exposure with. This included hosting a visit to NUS by the UN Youth Envoy which was a rare opportunity that I cherished greatly.
The main negative experience of this attachment was the disappointment I felt when community partners were very tentative in responding to our attempts to help them. It made me realize that as much as we desire to help others, they might not be as willing to do so for reasons that I am unaware of. What we have to do is respect their decision and move on, rather than insisting on them buying into what we are promoting to them.
I would recommend an attachment with CTPCLP to every Fellow as it is a multi-faceted job experience that will impart a wide range of skills.