Life experiences: Pang Jo Fan reflects on his 1-month internship stint at LexisNexis
I first got involved in #LN4ROL projects when Cheryl, then intern of LexisNexis (and currently LexisNexis Student Ambassador) requested my help with the live streaming of the #LNxHT movie screening ‘Not My Life’ held at Lot 10 last year. In the same time period, I submitted my essay for the LexisNexis Rule of Law Essay Challenge and was fortunate enough to emerge first runner-up for that competition. Merely months down the road, my friend Derek; LN Student Ambassador and intern requested that I help run another live streaming for the Rule of Law Debate earlier this year. In a way or another, in the past two years I would somehow end up helping out at #LN4ROL events, working with other LN Student Ambassadors, Justine and Jie Jiun.
Pang Jo Fan (Far Left) with Student Ambassadors Cheryl Chok, Derek Kok, Justine Tan and
Lim Chee Wee, former Bar Council President
at the Rule of Law Debate 2013
However, it was only when I interned under Gaythri Raman (Head of Customer Discovery & Innovation Asia, LexisNexis) did I understand what #LN4ROL really means. Before this, #LN4ROL seemed to me a dedicated CSR branch of LexisNexis doing noble work to support social causes. After my 30 days interning in LN, my perspective completely changed.
Interning at LexisNexis was a healthy challenge for me and I have grown more organized and mature through the process. I was tasked with three main projects and various other small ones, all with individual deadlines and different urgencies for me to attend to.
My first day began with a flurry, after a good breakfast with my supervisor; I was tasked to create an online course from scratch based on the #LN4ROL debate earlier this year: ‘Human Rights in ASEAN’. Having no information of what was required except to create an online course, and having accustomed to being told what to do in specific detail, the project pushed my abilities to its limits. I had no choice but to create my own aims, objectives, concepts and ideas, not to mention the actual execution itself. On top of that, I also needed to create my own syllabus and decide myself what the substance and content the website would require for it to be an educational online course. Thankfully, my past experience in web design made the project slightly more manageable.
Take the LexisNexis Rule of Law Online Course here at www.lexisnexisrol.com/courses/asean
Aside of that, one of my other major projects was to create a Law 101 course for all LexisNexis employees in Asia as not all LN employees are legally trained. Hence, understanding the basics of the law would definitely add value to their daily work and provide them a better perspective of their contribution the development and the rule of law.
In addition to all that, I participated in LexisNexis’ exciting new project of driving law reform in Myanmar. Because of that, I was required to carry out extensive research on Myanmar’s legal system necessary for contextual and strategic understanding before my supervisor left in August.
Alongside my workload, I would constantly be handed other small tasks as well. As you can imagine, with this overwhelming amount of responsibilities, it was up to me to manage my priorities, deadlines and the quality of my work, all of which was to be completed within 30 days. Looking back, I actually wonder how I managed to get them all done within that short period of time, but sure enough the experience was invaluable.
Initially, I struggled, with academics not being my forte. I made countless rants under stress and badgered friends (Derek) for advice. To my immense relief, I managed to complete the online course with four modules and tests to be rolled out to lawyers and law students all over ASEAN, pending accreditation by the various Bar Societies. The course can be found here.
Fortunately enough, I also succeeded in holding a Law 101 session in the LexisNexis Malaysia office with mostly positive feedback. However, I faced a lot of technical difficulties trying to hold the webinar with other Asian offices. Nevertheless, I posted my recorded presentation on Youtube to be circulated amongst the Asian offices. As for Myanmar, I was told by Gaythri that she had a very fruitful trip and LN is going to play a huge part in their legal reform and restoration of the rule of law.
I would say that my biggest take-back from my stint in LexisNexis is how I was encouraged not to be afraid to think big and to fight to achieve what I want to achieve. Having so much on my plate at that time, I started off by proposing “safe” and “doable” substandard ideas, especially for the online course. I still remember that my supervisor was less than impressed and kept pushing on the fact that she knows that I am capable of doing much better. I was constantly encouraged to go back and think of what I perceived as the best and the most ideal outcome, ignoring completely other considerations such as cost, time and “doability”. The emphasis was to ‘think big’.
I went back to my drawing board, putting myself in a very uncomfortable position of “thinking big” and when I returned with my new proposal, I was greeted with the biggest grin of satisfaction. Of course, what I had to face next was to worry about the execution, but as I went through the motions, I was provided with all the support I needed, given LN’s wide resources.
It is then I realized the truth of what I am always told in LN: If you want something, don’t wait for it to happen, go and fight to make it happen. The fine line that distinguishes dreams and ideas from reality is drawn by each individual’s choice and willingness to go the extra mile.
As a whole, my experience at LN has been fantastic as I was able to immerse myself in my greatest passion: law and human rights. I learnt from many different perspectives and was also given much flexibility at work, which I appreciated thoroughly.
Once I asked about the lunch times for LN offices, and the response was “When you’re hungry, you eat. When you are full, you come back”. Also when my supervisor was overseas, I was given the liberty to work out of office as when necessary. I was told that the location of my workstation did not matter, as long I was able to deliver satisfactorily. This was something I was very grateful for, given my preference to work in different environments and the burden of having to simultaneously juggle university applications with work. Top that up with the inspiring stories Gaythri recounts when she meets me for lunch, I can safely say that my LexisNexis experience was amazing.
In this 30 days, I have learnt that #LN4ROL is definitely not just a CSR programme but it rings through the entirety of LexisNexis’ existence. From making the law accessible to people, to working with NGOs and raising awareness on human rights issues, as well as reforming and tidying up laws of countries to make them consumable, these are all things that are essential in upholding the rule of law in our world today. And this is LexisNexis’ job scope. To me, LexisNexis is a profit-making corporate movement promoting and upholding the rule of law; and that is the essence of #LN4ROL.
Finally, I would just like to say that my experience in LN has taught me invaluable lessons that I would take forward not just in my future career, but a serve as an important milestone in my life. It was as if I was pushed into the deep end and I forced myself to learn to swim. It was hardly smooth sailing but I made it, and I really do treasure this experience.
So let’s all move the needle together! #LN4ROL