Interning at UNDI 18 – The Experience
With the pandemic causing a global lockdown, I decided it was best to defer my university entry to 2021 as I felt that it was unsafe to travel and the cost of remote learning did not seem to be worthwhile. As I had a full year until my university year started, I decided that the most productive way to spend it would be to gain work experience. As my university degree will be English Literature and Politics, it was only natural that I would search for employment within these sectors. Having no higher qualification than A-Levels and the pandemic creating mass unemployment in Malaysia, I was anxious if it was even possible to find an organization that was willing to offer me an internship but fortunately, Undi 18 offered me an opportunity to intern for them which I will always be grateful for.
Having interned at Undi 18 for three months, I can confidently say that I have developed skills I would not have particularly taken the initiative to practice. This internship was my first work experience so my skill set prior to this was primarily academic research and writing at a Sixth Form level. In the beginning of my internship, I expressed interest in the 111 Initiative as women’s rights and political advocacy has always been a great passion of mine. With this in mind, I was given the opportunity to write an article about the barriers of women in politics and how the entrenchment of the patriarchy in Malaysian culture and political institutions causes a lack of equal gender representation in Malaysian politics. Along with this, I have helped write a speech that challenges the notion that gender quotas will provide equal gender representation and that urgent cultural change is more likely to encourage women to become political leaders within Parliament.
Not everything came easy during these few months and there were bound to be challenges. With my main skills being research and copywriting, I was also tasked with being a part of the social media team. As one of Undi 18’s main goals is to improve political literacy in Malaysia, especially among the youth, most of the content that I researched were relevant to voter’s education. Although, I did find some challenges. Social media involved graphic designing and marketing skills that were essential in attracting our audience to read our infographics. In the beginning, I was lost on how to create attractive designs but fortunately, the Undi 18 team was always there to guide me in the right direction with constructive criticism; pushing me outside my comfort zone to help me grow.
Throughout my internship, I was involved in nearly all of Undi 18’s campaigns, especially the 111 Initiative which I had stated in the beginning that I was mostly interested in. By participating in a variety of campaigns, I gained knowledge in areas that I would have not actively pursued myself such as Tenaga Belia’s encouraging youth involvement in Malaysia’s energy sector. Perhaps I could call myself an engineer with all the work I had done for this campaign.
On a more serious note, I contributed to Undi Sabah’s research by creating talking points for the Sabah summit which took place in September. I learnt more about the political concerns in East Malaysia than I ever would have had I not been involved. The wide range of Undi 18’s campaigns allowed me to learn more about not only the political parties and power structures of our country, but also my own identity as a Malaysian. Everyday I became more enthusiastic in exploring what was next in our political climate, despite the many moments of disappointment. Undi 18 not only helped me widen my skill set and political perspective but also aided me in connecting myself with my country which I had neglected during my time aboard.
The Undi 18 team has always been supportive, innovative and inspiring. We always reflected from past projects in order to out-do ourselves in the next series of campaigns. The openness and transparency of Undi 18 allowed everyone’s opinion and criticism to be accepted with respect. Having no university degree triggered my insecurity of having a limited skill set but Undi 18’s amiable environment ensures that anyone can ask for help without feeling ashamed. Often, we are able to take things light-heartedly and laugh it off. Some of my co-workers were not only advocating for youth empowerment at Undi 18 but were always innovating new projects that they were equally passionate about outside of the organization. Seeing how passionate and ambitious everyone was, made my experience of working at Undi 18 awe-inspiring as there was constant evidence that ideas always have great potential to succeed in becoming a reality if initiatives are taken with the right people.