Internship Woes

TLDR: Locals do not want to work for me, and I cannot hire foreigners who do. Sigh.

I’ve been trying to hire some interns to help out with work in my company. However, I have had problems – serious ones.

I get applications from several local universities. As a standard, I will get them to answer a list of 15 screener questions. I remind them that getting the answer right is not important as I only wish to understand how they think. In fact, most of the questions have no right answers at all. Unfortunately, most of the local university students do not even attempt the questions, finding them too difficult to answer. The ones who try to answer them are foreign students at local universities.

So, I have offered internship positions to almost everyone who actually attempts to answer the questions reasonably. Unfortunately, the locals whom I have offered, tend not to want to work for me once they find out that I am a small shop. The foreign students at local universities usually end up doing better and get offers from multi-nationals and so, I cannot compete.

As a result, I have difficulties hiring local students.

Then, out of the blue, I get applications for internships from foreign nationals at one of the world’s Top 30 universities. As usual, I send them to my screener and all of them impressed me with the depth of their answers. So, I was happy and looking forward to taking all of them in. Again, I mist reiterate that these are really good students from one of the top universities in the world – one even has two papers being published this coming year.

So, I contacted the Immigration Department and told to visit the local office for the forms and checklist. This is when disaster struck again. I was told by the officer that my company is too small and will not meet the requirements to hire foreigners as interns. I can understand the logic and rationale behind such a policy but it is a little disheartening to find out that the quality people who actually want to work for me, cannot.

So goes my hiring woes – the locals whom I want to take, do not want to work for a small company; and I do not qualify to hire foreigners from a top university who want to work for me. I’ll take this in my stride, as part of the growing process. I am now more determined than ever to build my company into a really large one so that I can happily hire the foreigners who want to work for me in the future.

PS: The locals do not seem to understand the adventure that is interning at a small company doing cutting edge work. It’s much better than arranging name cards or photocopying in a local multi-national.

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Shawn Tan

Chip Doctor, Chartered Engineer, Entrepreneur, Law Graduate.

2 thoughts on “Internship Woes”

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