An American Grad’s Take on her PR Internship in Singapore
By Lauren Ho
The Hoffman Agency Singapore
As a recent college grad, believe me when I tell you that finding your place in the corporate world is an incredibly daunting task. It’s also made a thousand times more intimidating when you attempt to do so halfway across the world.
But sometimes, you just have to take the bull by the horns.
When I first considered the big move to Singapore to pursue a six-month PR internship at Hoffman, one of my greatest anxieties was whether I would be able to adapt well to Singaporean work culture.
All my life, I’d heard from my Singaporean-born-and-bred parents that people in Singapore were perpetually stressed and over-worked. They claimed that the tiny city-state is infamous for its affinity for rules and structure. There is a ban on chewing gum after all, which is, in my humble opinion, a great offense against humanity.
As it turns out, I didn’t have anything to worry about.
Here at Hoffman, every day is filled with laughter, jokes, friendly teasing and a desire to produce quality work. Most importantly, Hoffman Singapore has an unmatchable spirit of camaraderie both inside and out of the workplace.
The team takes mentorship very seriously. Everyone is genuinely supportive and willing to help each other grow and be the best they can be. We even have bi-monthly Safe House meetings, which provide an opportunity for junior members of the team to share their experiences on different accounts, offer tips and counsel and voice new ideas.
We really do know how to have fun at the HA-SG office. It’s common to have spontaneous Nerf gun battles, pull pranks on colleagues while they’re on vacation and partake in daily playful banter. In fact, a witty tongue and clever quips are necessary if you want to be respected in the office.
My colleagues still occasionally tease me about my Californian accent, and I haven’t quite mastered the ability to speak Singlish (colloquial Singaporean English), but I feel as if I’m part of the Hoffman Singapore family nonetheless.
It’s been a cultural immersion outside of the office as well. During my six months here, I’ve learned how to shoulder my way through massive crowds on trains and in shopping centers, discovered the best tucked-away locale to get one-of-a-kind cocktails (Bar Stories in Haji Lane), and remembered to always carry an umbrella in case of spontaneous, monsoon-like downpours.
I’ve come to discover that Singapore isn’t as buttoned up as I’d initially thought.
The city-state has a thriving arts scene that grows more vibrant every day. I’ve seen incredible Lego installations by Nathan Sawaya at Singapore’s iconic ArtScience Museum, and have witnessed a brilliant performance by Lea Salonga (the first Asian to play the roles of Éponine and Fantine in Les Misérables). Not to mention I’ve had the chance to attend the annual Night Festival, an event filled with musical acts, light installations, and mesmerizing acrobatic performances.
Overall, it’s been a whirlwind experience. In just six months, Hoffman has completely redefined what I thought PR was all about. I’ve learned that it involves so much more than just pitching media or being a “spin master.” Here are my key takeaways from this PR internship experience:
The importance of relationships: It makes a world of difference when you exert the effort to know a journalist’s favorite restaurant or send a thoughtful gift on a client’s birthday. Taking the time to really know and build trust with the people you’re working with is the foundation of everything.
The power of storytelling: An engaging story can help bridge the gap between companies and their target audiences. As PR professionals, it’s our job to humanize companies and ensure that their messages are compelling and, most importantly, relatable.
In addition to the insight I’ve gained in the PR industry, I’m grateful I’ve had the opportunity to know the country my parents grew up in. In fact, I’ve come to view it as my own home as well.