Behind The Scenes With Our Interns at The Singapore Grand Prix

Jumira Raja
Five students from Northeastern University, who are supporting our Singapore Grand Prix project team, share their internship experiences in a brief interview below.

For many students, landing a coveted internship is a feat. But, making the most of the work experience is the real accomplishment. At the beginning of July 2016, we offered five intern positions, allowing students from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, to work across the different areas for the Singapore Grand Prix project in Singapore. The internship provides an opportunity for them to gain valuable work experience and insights into the inner workings of Asia's first F1 street race and the first night race in F1 history.

Singapore Grand Prix Interns

Reza Zainuddin, project director, commented: “At Faithful+Gould, an internship programme is a training ground for top talent, and ours is a robust 12-week experience that runs from July to October. On top of that, not only is diversity important in our workplace, but hosting an intern also represents a chance to get fresh ideas, find future job candidates, and benefit from the interns’ diverse backgrounds and experience.

Meet our dynamic interns from Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA!

Alejandro Moreno

Corei Moxey 

Katelyn Craft

Mudit Dalmia

Patricia Gavelek

Major BS in Industrial Engineering & MS in Engineering Management Chemical Engineering with a Minor in Business Administration Civil Engineering (focus in Environmental) Industrial Engineering Electrical Engineering
Native country Venezuela (The Bolivarian Republic of) The Bahamas United States India United States
Role at the Grand Prix Admin Assistant  Event Facilities Intern (Special Facilities) Event Facilities Intern (Suits) Track & Infrastructure Intern Power & Comms Intern
What does a day in the life look like in your role? My responsibilities vary according to where we are in the project. The period from July to mid-August is mostly dealing with contractors and coordinating their passes for the Zone 1 lock-down period. From the second part of August to September, I focus on the Engineering Service Desk operations – planning, scheduling, incorporating new systems and ensuring everything is set for race days. Apart from those two main duties, I deal with the day-to-day operational task at the office, supporting my manager, who’s the Project Coordinator. I have also gone beyond my main duties and joined the Corporate Suites team to perform site inspections, as well as the Health & Safety team to take notes at their weekly meeting. I directly support the Paddock Club Suites, Paddock Kitchen and Paddock Lifestyle areas. Tasks vary from day to day but generally, I liaise with the contractors who are working in those areas, track construction progress and write regular site reports. I manage the contracts for the International Television Centre (ITC), where all the broadcasters around the world have offices with views of the track to telecast the race, the Corporate Suites, Base Kitchens, and the jetties, where VIP guests take a ferry to the suites. My scope of work includes tracking progress, checking for safety, liaising with contractors and project managers, and taking photographs. I also carry out an inspection in all the suites, including conducting inspection reports, and tracking all the details to be touched up or faults to be repaired. One of my main responsibilities is to keep track of and inspect the civil works. I track progress and record any observations that might be of importance for the team or project. This generally involves a lot of biking around the circuit park, from one spot to another. When I’m done with my work, I observe other colleagues around me, trying to understand what they’re working on, and I will also offer to help them out with their tasks. As the race approaches, my time is spent biking around the circuit park, ensuring that the televisions, super screens, and lighting balloons are all in perfect condition, interspersed with the odd meetings or site walks. About a month ago, before any of those began to be installed, I mainly handled varied and random tasks and sat in on meetings.
What have been the most rewarding aspects of your experience? So far, it’s the interaction with the different parties, from contractors to the management, who come together to deliver this project. I have also enjoyed helping and exploring areas outside of my role, such as assisting the Health & Safety and Corporate Suites teams. The most rewarding experience would be observing and being an active participant in the amazing work that’s going on here. Having the opportunity to work for such a well-known project, working together with people of different cultures, and helping each other achieve the same goal – which is to attain perfection in every suite. Getting to know those who have had different and interesting work-life experiences and held several other positions in the company, as well as being able to experience and learn first-hand at how much hard work, planning and coordination goes into making a project of this scale run smoothly and without fault. To be able to see the event come to life, knowing how much work has gone into it. So far, however, the most rewarding thing has been getting to see how such an event is organised and being able to work with such a group of diverse and interesting people.
What is it like interacting with people at different levels from the Singapore Grand Prix? It is an enriching experience. I gain knowledge by observing how everyone comes up with different angles when discussing and exploring on the project. Some are focused and are experts in their particular niches, while others have a more general approach. It has been great to see how all these suggestions come together in delivering such a complex project. Everyone is very approachable and easy to talk to, which makes the interaction quite organic. Everyone is easy-going and pleasant to talk to. From an intern’s perspective, I am fortunate as they do not make me feel intimidated despite their level of experience. I have interacted with people from various different levels, mainly from Faithful+Gould, and most of them have been very approachable, friendly and respectful regardless of their positions. It’s even heartening when they so willingly share their experiences and stories or impart something useful to me. Everyone here works well together, and we manage to maintain a light-hearted working environment while still being serious about work. It is fascinating to be able to meet with people from all different levels. It makes the event so much cooler to experience, getting to know the people working on it, and seeing all the levels of planning and organisation behind the scenes.
How do you think your internship experience here complements your academic experience at Northeastern University? By testing and challenging what is actually employed in the real work environment versus what we are taught in the classroom. For example, I would have thought there was one critical path for this project, but as it turns out, this project is so precise that there is no one specific process that defines it. On the other hand, everything that’s happening in September (from just 16 days to week 0) is considered critical. This experience has given me another example of how the things I’ve learnt through my coursework is applied in the real world. This is my third internship, with the first two in biotechnology, and it has proven to me that the options are limitless when it comes to what I choose to apply my coursework to. I will return to college with increased leadership and communication skills, as well as strong problem solving skills. Now, I’m also more focused on finishing my degree, having a better grasp of what I want to do with my life after graduating. I was initially unsure about my future path, but this experience helps to point me in the right direction. Working at Faithful+Gould and on the Singapore Grand Prix project makes me feel like I naturally fit into this line of work and it allows me to gain invaluable experience in a working environment, as well as helping me determine what type of career is right for me.  It is wonderful seeing what people and those who graduated with different majors are actually doing. Often times, it is difficult to remember what opportunities there are when in the classroom.
Do you feel your internship give you real-world experience? If so, how? Absolutely! From being on the ground to learning from the project managers and contractors, and being exposed to how Faithful+Gould does project management for the Singapore Grand Prix, it is a valuable experience that I will be able to leverage for my future career. This internship does not only give real world experience, but it’s also a very unique and specialised one, as I must actively think about how to apply my coursework knowledge to the task at hand. Of course! I am, after all, a helping hand in making this project come to life! Every day, I communicate with others and ensure that the job gets done. I’ve also learnt to be respectful yet authoritative so as to meet the deadlines. I think that this internship gives an ideal real-world experience. This is not an ordinary project in which deadlines can be pushed, regardless of or despite the consequences. Margins are extremely tight, and failure isn’t an option. As one of my seniors said, the correct approach is that “It’s not difficult; it’s time critical”. That is as real as it gets! The Northeastern Co-op programme is great because it lets students experience what a job in my major is like. This internship is a step towards gaining real-world work experience, as it allows me to participate in this process.
Is diversity and inclusion in the workplace important to you, and why? What are some ways that Faithful+Gould helps promote diversity with our internship programme? Diversity is great, especially when those differences generate a diversity of thought, which in turn can lead to innovation. I have found an incredibly open culture here, where it’s easy to talk to any manager or director and to interact and engage with colleagues. Moreover, we are encouraged to participate and learn about the different religions and practices that take place here.  Diversity and inclusion are definitely important to me, and they are traits that I will keep in mind while on any employment search.  The sole fact that Faithful+Gould seeks out interns from Boston, who are of various backgrounds, speaks volumes about its commitment to diversity and inclusion. It is important considering that I am mixed race. I think diversity is wide here in Singapore. Not only is Faithful+Gould an international company, but this country is such a melting pot of different ethnicities and cultures. It’s also interesting to participate in some of the cultural / religious festivities and traditions that our co-workers celebrate. While I don’t think diversity is critical to making a project work, I do think it’s always a great addition to any workplace. It brings more value, perspective and potentially varied experiences and knowledge. People learn from one another and are more empathic towards others, whether or not they are working directly or indirectly for the company.  Diversity is always important everywhere. Even among us interns, we are a very diverse group. It would not have been as interesting if all of us had been from similar backgrounds with similar experiences. Having people from diverse backgrounds allows for an environment with multiple beliefs and opinions, resulting in everyone working together more efficiently and effectively. 
What advice would you give to students to help them make the most of their internship experience? You won’t realise it but time goes by very fast. So, take advantage of every minute and ask a lot of questions about everything – from how this works to who is in charge and what the process is. Keep in mind that we are working and learning at the same time. I would encourage students to be a sponge – absorb and learn as much as you can from your position as an intern, and also from the overall insight into Singapore. This makes the experience much more profound, in my opinion. Listen well, be respectful, don’t be afraid to ask questions, soak in as much information as possible, and be thankful each day. Internships are more about learning the basic skills that will be useful later on in life. If you think the work is less challenging or intensive in comparison to what you have expected, always focus on the learning aspect, be it something that’s directly related to the work you do or simply interpersonal / organisational skills. Have fun while it lasts and take advantage of the opportunity to interact with people who work at this international scale.