GII Feature: Jo Adam Saiful Mirza
Friday Jul 01,2022
THRIVING AS A GEN Z FOR MY REMOTE INTERNSHIP IN THE USA
By Jo-Adam Saiful Mirza
When my peers begin to unwind at 9.30pm, I begin my workday as a business intern at US-based Iterative Scopes, sieving through numerous documents that involve Intellectual Property (IP) protection. Between cups of coffee to keep me awake, I examine draft patent documents to ensure there are no room for potential legal challenges and disputes.
Iterative Scopes is a Medical Technology start-up, where I get to work directly with senior stakeholders on IP protection documentation and patent drafting. I also assist with other internal business and financial operations tasks.
You may be wondering why I opted for such an internship opportunity that requires me to work at such ungodly hours. As a Business Management undergraduate student at SMU, I am always on the lookout for opportunities, specifically in start-ups, to set me apart from my peers. The innovativeness of startups and the demands required to work in one, is something that I feel is a good fit for me career-wise.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, anxiety set in. All of a sudden, I was left wondering what my future would be, and if I could fulfil my career dreams. The world became increasingly uncertain for students, especially those who are about to graduate and seek employment in the real world.
Amongst the various career assistance and schemes available at the university, I applied to SMU Institute of Innovation & Entrepreneurship (IIE)’s Global Innovation Immersion (GII), a three-month programme positioned within the innovation and startup ecosystem to foster entrepreneurial mindsets in students. What attracted me to apply for the programme was the international exposure as well as the opportunity to work in high-growth startups alongside individuals and industry mentors from diverse backgrounds. Prior to embarking on the internship, we attended various workshops such as language courses and networking etiquette classes to prepare us with the necessary skills and knowledge to thrive in an overseas start-up.
The opportunity to secure a life-changing internship opportunity came when I learned about Iterative Scopes, a startup, after it won the top prize at SMU IIE’s flagship event – Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition. Among the many other stellar entries, the concept of using Artificial Intelligence in detection and diagnostic tools in gastroenterology caught my eye which I found fascinating. Hence, I decided to apply to work there.
What started off as a three-month internship got extended to six months and I was still as excited as ever to boot up my computer at 9pm to work remotely for Iterative Scopes.
The most memorable assignment was working on a patent. Despite the complexity and intricacy of the process, I learnt a lot about the inner workings in the healthcare industry which gave me deeper insights into how MedTech firms operate.
At Iterative Scopes, I am encouraged to comment and give feedback based on logic. When I draft patents, I work with lawyers, doctors and developers in the field. It gives me a sense of satisfaction and ownership over my work when these experts ask for my views on how best to craft their legal documents. This compels me to develop a deeper understanding of what I am required to do. At my internship, asking questions and sharing our views have become second nature. I am thankful to have extremely accommodating colleagues, who helped answer even the most mundane questions as I seek to decipher the complexities behind medical topics and industry jargons. The open culture at the workplace promotes constructive criticism regardless of one’s experience to achieve optimal results. This was truly a welcome change.
From the start, the remote work environment was quite different from the usual as working from home meant less social interaction with colleagues. To perform well in my internship, I had to make deliberate efforts to reach out to colleagues and be more proactive in my work. I learnt to be more independent instead of relying on co-workers all the time.
Due to the time difference between Singapore and the United States, I had to give considerable thought to how I can solve a problem on my own first – a skill I learnt to cultivate. This also forced me to plan and manage my time to schedule meetings and phone calls which was challenging as training slots for trainees were limited. My colleagues are also considerate and mindful when it comes to taking breaks. The positivity in a fast-paced work environment is something I really appreciate.
Understanding what motivates and brings me happiness has given new meaning to my aspirations. It also takes away the unnecessary pressure of benchmarking myself against the successes of others.
While I may not have all the answers or know where exactly I will be heading after graduation, I look forward to gaining new knowledge and discovering what it means to find my happiness in the start-up world.
Register Your Interest for GII Summer 2023!
Keen to experience what it is like to work for an overseas high-growth start-up like Jo-Adam? Register your interest and we will notify you once the application for GII 2023 is open and you can indicate your preferred internship destination on the GII application form.