Prior to interning at the Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights (MCCHR), I had never had any experience in work related to human rights and law – that was until I applied to intern at MCCHR under a program called ASASI. ASASI is an internship programme run by Kesatuan Penuntut Undang-undang Malaysia di United Kingdom dan Eire (KPUM) for law students who are interested in having first-hand experience in human rights and activism in the legal profession. Little did I know that it was not just going to be another internship. It turned out to be an eye-opening experience, and it has taught me a lot about myself.
Rewind to April 2015 when I received my ASASI internship offer letter from Cassandra, I was excited and extremely nervous. When I accepted my internship offer letter, I did not know what to expect. I thought that the work I would be doing would be mostly assisting my supervisors in any projects they were working on, but oh no, I was given complete responsibility over organising my own events. If anyone asked if I only did photocopying, I laughed at them and assured them that I did not.
Some of the work I did involve in helping out at the café and the annual stock count for LoyarBarang (yes we do stock counts); assisting my supervisor, Mazni, in her Strategic Litigation Conference #SLC that is going to take place on 3 October 2015; co-organising an UndiMsiaChats! with a fellow intern; writing an article on Mat Shuhaimi Shafiei, MCCHR’s strategic litigation case; and organising an open house for the MyMP project. I was also interviewed alongside my other supervisors, Seh Lih and Khairil, for The Star newspaper! All the work that I did was equally exciting and taught me a lot, but if anyone were to get me choose one thing that had left an impact on me throughout my two-month internship, I would say it was organising the MyMP Open House.
MyMP is an UndiMsia! project that aims to encourage voters to learn about their Members of Parliament (MPs) through the MyMP website. Some of the information, which is provided, includes educational information about the Dewan Rakyat, the biodata of all 222 MPs, and the MPs’ answers to three basic questions relevant to their role as an MP. Hence, in relation to the MyMP project, the reason for hosting the MyMP Open House was to provide a chance for youth voters to mingle and get to know their MPs in a relaxed setting.
Six MPs came to the MyMP Open House: Y.B. Tan Seng Giaw, Y.B. Teresa Kok, Y.B. Nurul Izzah, Y.B. Khalid Samad, Y.B. Ong Kian Ming and Y.B. Lim Lip Eng. Looking back to that day, it was an amazing experience – everyone, attendees and MPs alike, sat together eating nasi minyak with ayam masak merah, all deep in discussion about the MP’s work and topical issues. I also had the chance to mingle around and talked to the MPs. At the end of the day, I was over the moon because I saw the result of my work unfold in front of my very eyes.
Admittedly, as it is with organising any event, organising the Open House was not without its challenges but it was a success! One of the reasons why the Open House was very meaningful to me is because it did not only just equip me with organisational skills, but it also taught me that I should believe in myself and that if you put your effort into what you are doing even though you feel that it wasn’t enough, it will all work out. That sense of self-discovery and gaining the courage to believe in yourself is not easy, especially for myself; interning at MCCHR has taught me this and it is not a lesson that I will ever forget.
This is why I put the title to this article as such – because it is true: an internship is not merely an internship. Yes, you will have to work hard, sometimes with minimal pay or no pay at all, but the experience you get is priceless – you have the opportunity to learn from amazing people and meet other equally amazing people, and along the way, you will have the opportunity to discover yourself and unlock your potentials. If anyone were to ask me if I would do it again, I will definitely say yes (NB: Khadijah did not realise that this question is rhetorical as once you are an intern with the MCCHR, you are FOREVER an intern and we will not cease to call upon her to organise more Open Houses). Being part of the ASASI programme and getting the opportunity to intern at MCCHR did not just introduce me to other like-minded, very passionate and hard-working individuals within the cohort and at my workplace, but it has also changed me and inspired me to work harder to achieve my future goals.
If you are interested to know more about the First Ever Strategic Litigation Conference in Malaysia that I had the chance to work on, click here.