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Life as an Intern: Non-Legal Edition @ An International Company

What company did you work at and what do they specialise in?

Grooves is a company that operates Japan’s largest domestic platform for recruiting companies in order to help solve Japan’s social issues surrounding personnel shortage. In a summarized version it is known as a Human Resource (HR) Tech company. As the future is increasingly defined by connectivity, they are determined to expand their reach beyond Japan to tap into a new territory of global trade, talent and innovation in different parts of the world. Currently, their offices are located in Tokyo and Osaka, and Malaysia is the only branch outside of Japan.

Was there a specific reason as to why you chose to intern at a non-legal based company?

To be honest, initially I did not have any plans to work in a non-legal based company but when this offer came by through my email which they found through Taylors Student Council profile, I started to think why shouldn’t I? I was very curious and interested to know what a non-legal based company would be like. Hence, I decided to take up the opportunity because this might be the only time I get to experience a non-legal working life. In short, I just wanted to have a taste of a non-legal based working life and not to limit myself to only law firms.

Could you share your overall experience as an intern at? i.e. What was your role as an intern (i.e. filing, researching, etc.)? What was your most memorable experience during the internship? 

One word to describe my whole experience: Fulfilling

It’s absolutely true that I had zero background in terms of business or software developing or just basically anything related to IT. But that was the challenge I wanted to take up. I wanted to learn beyond my background and what I know.

On my first day of internship I was very excited but I did not expect such a warm welcome from my colleagues and my boss. They prepared a few things for me - a brand new MacBook, a company shirt, my own table and more. We also had a company lunch as Chinese New Year was around the corner during my internship and it was a treat from my boss. Occasionally we would play games after work which was so much of fun.

As an intern, my jobs were with the marketing team. I had to help my team sort out several data, search for interns and conduct interviews. I was also given the opportunity to write a blog post on programming languages. This was one of the hardest tasks I had to do, as I’ve said before I had no knowledge regarding IT. Hence, I did a lot of research and along the way I learnt so much that I am now able to tell the difference between the programming languages. In addition, I was asked to work on the destination page on the official website by collecting information and putting together the website with one of our web-designer colleagues. I was also allowed to join meetings which included the Japanese team. It was very interesting to work with people with different working cultures and environments. I was always given the space to put forth any thoughts or ideas I had in regards to our product on how to make it better. 

Besides that, I was given the privilege to attend various networking events to meet potential clients and to my surprise I met many corporate lawyers in these events. One of the biggest events I attended was the ASEAN Rice Bowl Startup Awards. It was an amazing opportunity to network as I got the golden chance to meet many successful entrepreneurs and a number of legal practitioners. Meeting these lawyers at such events was really insightful as they helped me network with many other lawyers as well as advised me on several matters. Some of them even provided me with materials to read on. It was really meaningful to me as I still do keep in touch with them and as such, I get invited to events that are being held by them.

The most memorable part of this whole internship I would say is attending the awards ceremony as I learnt how to put myself out there and had the opportunity to feel like being in an awards show just like how we see it on TV. 

I really had fun with my colleagues who were super friendly and very helpful throughout my internship. My boss, who is Japanese practices the Japanese work culture. He has so much to teach and share with me and it was truly a great experience to hear what a man full of experience has to say.

Were you able to relate what you have learned in class during your internship, despite it being a company not related to the legal field? What did you learn on the field the company specialises in?

There were some moments where I was able to relate what I have obtained in class during my internship. There were times my colleagues would approach me to get clarification on several legal related issues such as contract related matters. It also became useful when I had to network with the lawyers in the events and other attendees of the events. 

Being in this field I have learnt about a startup business, programming languages, a little about software developing, business marketing and also getting to know how Human Resource technology operates.

What are a few key takeaways you have gained during this experience, especially as a law student interning at a non-legal firm? 

I would say that the two main takeaways I gained throughout my internship are:

1. Be curious. I know it sounds strange but if you are not curious you will never learn.  There is so much out there for us to learn. Therefore, always ask and never stop asking. 

2. Besides that, I learnt to put myself out there in the wild. My colleagues always encouraged me to talk to clients and represent our company. By putting yourself out there you are giving yourself a platform to exchange knowledge, skills and information with other people. 

Have you interned at a legal based company/firm? If yes, what is the key difference between a legal based and non-legal based company?

Yes, I have interned in a legal firm and one of the key differences that I noted is that in a non-legal firm on a normal workday, you will not feel much tension in the office; whereas in a legal firm I could sense the tension among my colleagues. The environment in a legal firm is also very different as everyone is assigned their own cases; whereas in a non-legal firm they work according to their teams.

Did this experience provide you with a direction as to whether you would like to pursue a career in the legal field or a non-legal field?

This experience did open my eyes to other things that I would like to do such as business but at the same time, I am very much still in love with the legal field. So, I wouldn’t be pursuing my career in a non-legal field upon graduating but who knows what the future holds for me ;) 

Would you recommend other law students to also intern at a non-legal based company even if they are 101% sure that they want to be a legal practitioner?

Yes!!! I would absolutely recommend students to go out there to try out different experiences as you would definitely be working in a legal firm once graduating. So this would be the best opportunity to experience and learn a lot of other skills. Trust me, you would be surprised who you might cross paths with. In fact, I met Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram’s nephew who had a lot to share and a lot to learn from.

Do you have any tips or advice for future interns when they go on to do internships?

Don’t forget to have fun in the midst of all your work. Make sure to use the opportunity to learn as much as you can and never stop asking questions. Throw yourself out there and put yourself on the spot, you will be surprised with the results. Good luck!! 

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