Entering my third year in the Diploma of Arts Business Management, my class was the first batch of students who were placed on internships. I managed to get an internship placement at Helu-trans, one of Singapore's leading arts logistics firms.
At Helu-trans, I spent my first two months attached to the Client Services department. My primary roles and responsibilities are to assist my colleagues in Client Services in job execution and preparation of paperwork. I am also responsible for engaging in basic communication with clients, such as emailing them their invoices or procuring information about artworks from them. I am also in-charge of following up on billing and payment for jobs that I help to assist. I liaise with the Shipping department and the Registrar department to keep track of shipments, create and update permits, and update artwork records in the company database. I also assist my colleagues in filing and archiving paperwork of completed jobs, and provide on-site support when needed.
Before joining Helutrans, I was not very clear on what my roles and responsibilities were going to be. As stated in the job description provided by the school and during my job interview, I was told that I would be mainly doing administrative work. At first, I thought that this would be relatively simple as I had experience in administrative work from my time as a volunteer at St Luke’s Hospital and as an Admin member in the planning committee of the Compulsory School Orientation Programme 2018. However, my actual roles and responsibilities are very different from what I expected.
During my first week at the organisation, I had to be taught how to use Salesforce and understand the company’s Standard Operating Procedures. I had to understand the services provided by the company, such as the different types of import/export jobs, as each job is unique and require different documents and permits. It was difficult for me to adjust and learn so many new things as this was not taught in school, but my Company Supervisor and colleagues were very helpful and patient in teaching me.
I believe that I have learnt a lot from my first six weeks of interning at Helutrans. I have learnt how to communicate with clients properly, manage my time better and prioritise jobs when I am juggling several at once. I have also brushed up my Microsoft Excel skills as I am required to use Excel quite frequently. On a personal level, I learnt how to be more responsible and how to adapt to a new environment. I realised that I can be quite forgetful which could be detrimental as the jobs I handle are usually on a tight time constraint, hence I began logging the jobs that I need to complete and what needs to be done in a notebook. This has helped me tremendously and allows for easy reference when I need to open the job again to add in new documents or make changes and keep track of the tasks I need to complete.
Before my internship, I wanted to learn more about the arts industry, how it operates and gain a better understanding of the different sectors of the industry. As an arts logistics company, Helutrans is a part of the industry that is often overlooked. When thinking about the arts industry, the first thing that comes to mind is programmes– such as the planning and curation of festivals, visual arts exhibitions and performances. However, I have come to learn that every aspect of programmes require logistics planning. I’ve gained a better understanding of the art logistics industry in Singapore and its main players, as well as the services offered to aid in the planning and execution of arts programmes. I believe that the knowledge I have gained so far will help me to become a better arts manager in the future as I am more aware of the logistics needed to ensure that programmes run smoothly, such as hiring manpower to install art, transportation and storage of art works and importing and exporting art for museums and galleries.
I volunteered to be a part of the National Museum's Children Season 2017 on the 27th of May. I was given the task of manning one of the many booths sprawled throughout the museum. I was given a clicker and tasked to record down the number of people that entered the Young Cinema exhibition that I was stationed at and hand out free potato chips to visitors. I also manned the Bumboat Trail exhibition where I was in-charge of the donation box. My responsibilities also include answering any queries about Young Cinema, Bumboat Trail and the Children's Season.
Since I was unable to attend the volunteer orientation, I was not briefed thoroughly about my job-scope. However, I was given the volunteer handbook to read through a few days before the actual volunteering. Information about the museum's background, mission and vision, as well as volunteer dress-code were quite detailed. On the day itself, the Programmes Managers were helpful and briefed me thoroughly about my responsibilities and duties, therefore I did not encounter any difficulties when visitors asked me questions regarding Young Cinema.I think the Programmes Manager did quite a good job explaining what the Young Cinema booth was about, and therefore I did not encounter any difficulties when visitors asked me questions regarding Young Cinema.
Although I was not given a specific or specialised role, I was able to experience and understand the importance of such volunteers. My role was simple but laborious and without such volunteers, the event would not have been able to run smoothly. Therefore, I've gained a better understanding and appreciation for such volunteers. I will also take note of this if I have to manage volunteers in future events or projects, and ensure that they are not over-worked and have breaks in between shifts.
During my short stint volunteering at Children’s Biennale 2017, which was organised by the National Gallery, I was tasked to be an artist’s assistant. My job as a volunteer consisted of helping to set up an art installation created by the French-Vietnamese artist, Tran Trong Vu. This art installation is called Sonnet in Blue. My task was to tie blue plastics strips onto the metal wire structure.
Overall, the volunteer experience was enriching memorable for me. The volunteer briefing for the Children’s Biennale was clear, precise and smooth. During the briefing, the programmes manager provided all the volunteers with volunteer handbooks that were printed in colour. In turn, I was confident and clear about my roles and responsibilities.
One of the most memorable parts of my experience with the National Gallery was when the volunteers were able to engage in a question-and-answer session with Tran Trong Vu himself. When the volunteer orientation ended earlier than scheduled, the programmes manager brought us to another exhibition by teamLab that was still under construction. The opportunity to interact with the artist of the installation we were volunteering at as well as the chance to have a sneak-peek of another exhibition that was closed off to the public made me feel appreciated by the organisation despite the short duration of time I was able to volunteer with them. Even though the interactive session with the artist and the sneak peek of teamLab’s exhibition was brief, it was very much appreciated as a sense of inclusion and community is built between the organisation and me.
This made my experience with National Gallery a memorable one and I would definitely want to volunteer for the organisation again.