Mystery internships create a space where you can leap into the unknown and cultivate your ability to adapt to new environments.
How keen are you to embark on an opportunity to face uncomfortable changes and unexpected challenges?
We are looking for individuals with that can-do attitude and a desire to be pushed out of their comfort zones!
Short-listed candidates will be invited to an in-depth interview, where we will discuss your aspirations, motivations and areas in which you hope to be challenged. If you are successful, an internship will be assigned to you, but you won’t find out where you’ll be heading or what you’ll be doing until far closer to your departure date!
You may have many questions about mystery internships, but the most important one is “Do you want to take the leap?”
If you are interested in a mystery internship, applications are open on Symplicity in January every year.
Over the last few summers, various students have served as mystery interns and, based on their interests and goals, were posted across Asia, Europe & USA. The students had challenging and edifying summers that expanded their comfort zones, and their experiences demanded resilience, adaptability and an ability to operate without a roadmap or with incomplete information. They cite the experience as invaluable in learning how to take a risk, making the most of one’s circumstances and gaining confidence to face future challenges. Here’s what they had to say:
“Being in Myanmar was so terribly exciting – I was very much a stranger in a distant land, and I had the opportunity to reflect on who I was and what I wanted for my future. Anywhere else would not have been quite the same. Though the journey was at times uncomfortable, I believe that my experiences in Yangon endowed me with the daring to embrace the strange and work across cultural boundaries.”
—Wei Da Lim, Class 2021, Mystery Intern, CarsDB, Yangon, Myanmar
“Working with the Coffee Heritage Project was a process of rediscovering myself. Imagine yourself going to a new country with a different language without even knowing what you are going to be doing. Yes, it can be scary. But trying out things that I would not have done on my own and realising the joy in it showed me that there are so many things in the world that I have not yet experienced. I am now more comfortable to try new things and step out of my comfort zone.”
—Jace Kim, Class 2021, Mystery Intern, The Coffee Heritage Project, Sagada, Philippines
“By the end of my two months as a teaching intern at Boy’s Brigade Learning Centre (Siem Reap), I could not imagine a more enriching way to have spent my summer break. The students were enthusiastic learners, and the working environment at BBLC was very nurturing. Before my internship stint, I thought that teaching was “easy”, but I left BBLC more cognizant of the myriad difficulties that accompany this profession, and have a newfound respect for the teachers in my life. I will be eternally grateful for this invaluable opportunity to touch the hearts, and change the lives (even in a small way) of those living a world apart from me.”
—Edina Tan, Class 2020, Mystery Intern, Boy’s Brigade Learning Centre, Siem Reap, Cambodia
“I really enjoyed my attachment in Tbilisi — on the professional side, I was given a lot of guidance and developed a thorough understanding of road safety issues and sustainable transport planning. On the other hand, nothing really quite prepares you for the experience of being alone abroad: I felt like I was free to develop my own way of living when I was there and that I discovered some new form of existence. I’ve learnt so much from the locals about what it means to live life to the fullest, adopting a different perspective on work-life balance and what it means to excel in your field. Thank you, CIPE, thank you PfRS and thank you Georgia!”
—Ryan Foo, Class 2020, Mystery Intern, Partnership for Road Safety, Tbilisi, Georgia
“From fear to absolute comfort, shy hellos to playful nudging, my two months in Cambodia has given me so much to remember. Because of the nature of the program, I found myself having a lot of freedom to explore my surroundings without anything familiar to cling on and hold me back. I truly felt like I was with the country, as opposed to just being in it. Growing up hearing only unfortunate things about the place, this experience has led me to see the beauty and richness of its people. Will surely go back to visit!”
—Vivyan Yeo, Class 2019, Mystery Intern, Cambodian Living Arts, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
“Taking the chance to delve into the ‘unknown’ and start working for a firm I had absolutely no background knowledge, was both exciting and nerve-wracking for me, but that was exactly the point! Mystery Internship allowed me to feel comfortable and learn how to thrive despite being in an unfamiliar environment. I was given the opportunity to try my hands out and experience how educational consulting plays out in Asia, while at the same time growing to become a whole lot more independent and confident as an individual.”
—Annie Wang, Class 2019, Mystery Intern, Beacon Star Educational Consulting, Taipei, Taiwan
“I had never really given a thought about traveling in India, let alone working and living there before my Mystery Internship. But I always crave for an exciting adventure, which was why I was enthusiastic to embark this unique opportunity but also a little apprehensive at the uncertainties that would come with living and working in a foreign country. My worries were unfounded as I had one of my best experiences in college so far. It was truly challenging to navigate in a completely different living and working environment, but I surprised myself with my adaptability and positivity. The entire experience was a learning journey for me, in both personal and professional sense. It made me fall in love with India which is such a beautiful place and I would not have appreciated her beauty without this step out of my comfort zone. It also affirmed my passion in the arts and art education, which I still readily engage with today. As the nature of Mystery Internship suggests, it is really about making the best of your experience, regardless of where you are and what resources you possess. I’ve glad to have gained so much and I’m proud to be able to call this experience my own which is also the beginning of one of the many stories I can share.”
—Yilin Yang, Class 2019, Mystery Intern, Gallery Gitanjali, Goa, India
“I have gained so much in the past 10 weeks and I have been brought so far out of my comfort zone… I feel like every single thing I have learnt in this country is so valuable and meaningful to me as a human being and to my development.”
—Hoa Nguyen, Class 2017, Mystery Intern, Sarus, Cambodia
“Rock climbing is one of the most intense and exhilarating experiences I’ve ever had. I’m really enjoying myself thus far. I feel like I really have a life here, with its quotidian blend of culture, work, socializing, adventure, boredom, traffic, etc. Even seemingly commonplace activities like watching a movie with friends can lead to anthropological insights. My Thai is improving too. There’s something about this place that causes even the most restless of wanderers to get stuck, but by no means stagnate… Life!”
—Willie Khoo, Class 2017, Mystery Intern, Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Association, Thailand
“I just had the most challenging experience of my life and I thought I would share it with you! I was standing in the middle of a ruined stadium in 45 degrees and I had to build a championship in 6 hours. I had ten local boys for help but none of them spoke a word in English. In the use your hands and legs language, I explained to them what they need to do without even knowing what a rugby field is supposed to look like… In total desperation, I almost started crying in the middle of the stadium believing I can never make this happen. But I had to. And you know what? I made it. When I finally got home, I started crying out of relief and sense of accomplishment. With almost no language, knowledge and resources, I helped to organise a rugby championship. And I have learned so much about organising, teamwork and communication. So give me a high five when you see me, alright?”
—Laureen Hollge, Class 2017, Mystery Intern, Lao Rugby Federation, Vientiane, Laos
“Work is great! It’s illuminating to witness the inner workings of a small non-profit… I’m getting to do more research-type stuff, which is nice as well. I’m having a blast here; adjusting to the small town life has been a bit strange but I’m getting used to being more independent in that context. Speaking of graduation festivities…I’m glad I got to witness it, along with Class Day and senior prom, and couldn’t stop thinking about what kind of traditions the graduating classes and alumni at Yale-NUS might establish.”
—Isa Ho, Mystery Intern, Class 2017, Princeton in Asia, New Jersey, USA