Every story has a beginning. My beginning in Biji-Biji is slightly different from everyone else in the company. Instead of finding the company on job websites, I found them through a couple of interns back in October 2016. Intrigued, I asked about the culture of Biji-Biji Initiative and the social mission and vision. Unlike the mundane intern, which typically wouldn’t bother to know the company’s goals, the interns explained everything that I want to know vibrantly and passionately. Now I don’t know about you, but any interns that can talk about their company for 20 minutes while smiling non-stop is a good enough indicator for me to know that the company is great.
My first day at Biji-Biji was crazy. Although I knew that Biji-Biji is different from other companies in terms of working culture, I didn’t expect that it would be THAT different. On my first day, I was assigned to fix the bicycle generator, drive out to procure some materials, and did some electronics work and wiring. A major benefit of working in the Tech department as an intern in Biji-Biji is that you get a lot of hands-on opportunities and practical work. The amount of projects that I have done in terms of tech and fabrication is incredible; no doubt gaining a lot of knowledge and skills that were not acquired in university. Looking back, I never really expected to get attached to Biji-Biji so much as I am attached now.
Now I don’t really want to explain specifically about the things that I did learn in Biji-biji in terms of hard skills, because that would be very boring and not relatable and I want to write this post like how I want to read it, which is ‘cut to the good part already’. What I would like to talk about though is the culture in Biji-biji. Biji-biji is a very diverse company, with people from all around the world working here. It’s always super fun and interesting to talk to a person that is completely different from you in terms of their background. It’s definitely a very refreshing experience as I came from a university where everyone is pretty much indistinguishable. Overtime, I do find the exposure of meeting different type of people provides the inspiration that I was looking for during my internship. Inspiration is the most powerful quality an adolescent like me can obtain as it clarifies what type of future I want and how I imagine my life will be like in 10 years.
When people talk about internships, without fail, they always ask about the benefit of the company in terms of salary and prospects, for obvious reasons. People have become so fixated with numbers that they sometimes forget about the things that are as important or even more important than cash; their emotional well-being in their working environment. I have heard so many stories of people who are unhappy with their jobs or their internships but they all stayed for one reason and one reason only; the pay. Biji-biji made me realise what really matters in a working environment, the motivation and the satisfaction of going to work every single day. Everyone in Biji-biji is extremely motivational and supportive, like a 100% of the time. The chance to learn is unlimited as everyone is very keen on sharing their knowledge. Sometimes it’s crazy to think about how positive the company actually is.
Anyways, fast forward to the present, I’m currently in my 6th month of internship, and I have only one month to go. Words cannot describe how much I actually appreciate working in this company. In a month’s time, I have to go back to college and complete my degree for a few years. As much as I want to just be in Biji-biji forever, I have my own goals in life and I will work my way towards the said goals. However, I am confident that I will come back to work with Biji-biji in the future; Biji-biji is more than an internship programme that I have to complete in order to graduate from my university.
For me, Biji-biji is not just an internship programme;
Biji-biji is not just a social enterprise;
Biji-biji is not just a place to learn;
Biji-biji is not just a place to meet new people;
And Biji-biji is not just a place to have fun.
Biji-biji is when everybody asked about my well-being every single day;
Biji-biji is when Navin told me to never apologise for being who I am;
Biji-biji is when Ash let me know that I can talk to him if I have a problem going on in my life anytime, even if it’s not work related;
Biji-biji is when Ju told me to enjoy my youth to the fullest and never try to force myself to grow up;
Biji-biji is when Zoe texting me health tips so that I can be healthier;
Biji-biji is when Alex told me that everything is okay even when it’s not;
Biji-biji is everybody taking care of each other wherever we are.
Biji-biji is special.
It is the feeling that everybody is searching for in this world, to feel belonged;
To feel like you are heard;
To feel like you matter;
To feel inspired.
Because to me, Biji-biji is not just an internship programme.
Biji-biji is home.