25 June, 2021 3:23 PM

Intern Story: Ziarla Mae Malabanan

The internship period of my Master’s in Barcelona coincided with the national lockdown not only in Spain but most countries in the European Union. My internship plans in Europe were postponed but it led to an amazing and even better opportunity.

Instead of skipping the internship season, I went back to the drawing board and asked myself the question, “What am I really interested in?” After several days of racking my brain, I realized how many papers I have written about ASEAN for my Masters, in addition to the ASEAN-related events I participated in and organized in the past. Consequently, I started doing my research and asking my colleagues working for different ASEAN organizations. I heard a lot of positive feedback about the internships at ASEAN Foundation but I was skeptical that I can get the internship because I am based in Spain. Luckily, they started implementing a virtual internship around that time!

When I read the opening for the Programme Intern position, I instantly knew that I want to go for it. It was like love at first sight! I was very excited to apply that I finished writing my cover letter and CV in one day. A few weeks after, I got the invitation for an interview and it was set at 5:00 AM (CET). I thought I would change my mind because an internship at an organization based in Jakarta means I need to work in the wee hours. However, my interest in working for the organization only intensified after completing the interview with the Head of Programme. I am grateful that they believed in my capabilities and hired me as an intern.

Working remotely for ASEAN Foundation from Spain is an amazing experience. I did not mind waking up at 4:00 AM to attend the staff meetings or at 7:00 AM to assist with the events because I always knew that I am learning something new. During my internship, I was equally given administrative, technical, and creative tasks. I gathered stories for ASEAN Youth Social Journalism’s promotional campaigns, created the application detail for the ASEAN Photo Competition on Renewable Energy, consolidated qualitative and quantitative data to create monthly situation reports, proofread proposals and reports for funding considerations, and drafted concept notes for eMpowering Youths Across ASEAN’s webinars and ASEAN’s Young Scientist Challenge Concept Note. I even had the chance to host the ASEAN Youth Social Journalism webinar and moderate its Q&A.

Working remotely is not so bad if you are assigned to challenging projects and you can do it in different places of your choice like cafes, libraries, and even the beach (social distancing was observed!). My internship is no doubt a value-adding experience to my career as I gained a lot of knowledge on the inner workings of a development organization, which is also a part of a major intergovernmental cooperation. ASEAN Foundation’s open and collaborative work culture also helped facilitate my professional growth.

Overall, I am thankful that I came across this opportunity to contribute to further building the ASEAN community by empowering the people of ASEAN.

Ziarla Mae Malabanan
Programme Intern and Student from Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals

if you are interested to apply to ASEAN Foundation's Internship Programme, click here.


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