Dear Dad

Saturday, June 18, 2016

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In light of Fathers' Day tomorrow, here's an edited version of one of my college application essays, dedicated to Papa Yap. I've tweaked it slightly into a more casual tone and to better reflect my actual feelings, rather than having it force-fitted to answer the question posed to me meant for uni apps. 

This piece was inspired mostly by what I've witnessed in February, when my grandma passed away, which was an incredibly trying and difficult time for my father. Of course, it is also a build-up of all I've seen my father do and embody over the past nineteen years of my life, and everything is factual. 

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The Past 6 Months

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

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A little more than six months ago on 30 November 2015, I started work as an editorial intern in a small magazine company. Then, my A Level examinations have just ended - emphasis on just - I literally didn't have a single day of break, excluding the weekends. It was quite the plunge and I didn't know what exactly I was getting myself into at all. 

Everything started one day when I got a little bored studying and decided to scroll through, thinking about all the exciting experiences I could have once the dreaded exams were over. While I wasn't seriously looking for a job then, I actually set aside precious revision time to do up my resume the moment I chanced upon an opening that was attractively called "Foodie Intern". Come on, it was perfect: the jobscope combines my love for food and writing. What more can I ask for?  

When I was called down for an interview in between my A Level papers, I actually went. (Yes, to be honest I have no idea what I was thinking then... that's gung ho Li Yin for you. Even my mum allowed me to go? In hindsight, that's extremely out of character but things work out in mysterious ways.) The interview went well, but as they needed someone to start immediately, I didn't fit the bill. I still had at least two more weeks of exams to go. However, a couple of days later, Justina, the editor for pets, another title published by Magazines Integrated - or m(int) for short, reached out to me. She offered me the editorial intern position for her magazine instead. 

Initially, I was hesitant. While I loved pets and animals, I've never actually owned one for myself. Plus, writing about animals may prove to be a huge challenge. Not only was it a topic I've never worked on before, I felt like animal welfare issues and health concerns were very scientific - and most will know that science has never been my strong suit. After much thought though, I decided that I had nothing to lose anyway and took up the opportunity. 

That decision ended up being one of the best ones I've ever made. 

I've always been fond of writing, and from a young age I knew that it was something I wanted to do as a profession. However, I was never completely sure about pursuing it professionally because I didn't know if passion alone could take me far, or whether it'd be sustainable in the long run. For one, I was sure that I didn't want to end up hating writing at the end of this. This 6-month stint was thus so important, in showing me that it was actually possible to get by doing something I love every single day. It concretised the fact that this was what I want to do in the future. And for that, I am so happy.  

Of course, the job wasn't all fun and games. It could be stressful at times, especially when deadlines were looming. Apart from having to work on print articles, the intern had to write one article a day for our website (, as well as craft two Instagram posts daily. Despite that, not a single day there felt like work, although some of the tasks took a bit of getting used to. Challenges were always so exciting, and overcoming them felt fulfilling. Without a doubt, what gave me the greatest amount of satisfaction was seeing my work in print. As pets is a bi-monthly (once every two months) mag, I got the opportunity to work on three issues during my time there. 

February/ March 2016 

Although this was the first issue that I worked on, I somehow completed my stories the fastest for this one, which is interesting to note. Beginners luck or panic? I don't really know, but for the rest of my internship I kept wondering how I actually accomplished such a feat, and couldn't replicate the same success/speed anymore. My deadlines were pretty tight, where I was given around two weeks to complete most of my stories because I had to file them before I left for my Sydney trip. I'll admit, I was slightly overwhelmed with all that was happening around me. Going for photo shoots, liaising with external companies, conducting interviews with vets and animal trainers, and finding doggy models. Everything was so new to me, but my growth at that point in time was exponential, which I'm immensely grateful for. 

In this issue, I wrote eight main stories (excluding the random snippets and other writings around the mag) and my favourite one to work on was probably the Pet-Friendly Venue review of Canopy Garden Dining, mostly because I got to eat (yay!) and well, meet an adorable Corgi and Dachshund. 

Pets Training & Behaviour Guide 

Pictured above together with the Feb/March issue above is the pets Training & Behaviour Guide, an annual special that we publish once a year. As this was a lot more technical than our usual magazine style, working on the articles for this handbook felt a tad dry. There weren't any photo shoots (which I secretly enjoy, although they are tiring), and we mainly got our information from the library, Internet, or spoke to veterinarians and animal trainers. To be honest, it felt a bit like a science research project and I was assigned thirteen stories to write, with topics ranging from dogs eating poop, to humping and aggression. We had to write our articles for this while working on the normal April/May 2016 issue too, so that was slightly demanding  

April/ May 2016 

Personally, this was the most difficult issue to write for, out of all three issues even though I had only seven articles. The stories I was assigned to allowed for a lot more autonomy on my part, to decide how I wanted my article to look like/ be. They required me to step out of my comfort zone in order to make decisions and stand by my artistic visions, which I'm not very used to - mostly because I'm not a very confident person. 

Perhaps the toughest task was a six-page spread, where I had to reach out to pet owners and interview them. After countless of Facebook messages sent out to strangers, and lots of rejection, I finally managed to get three who were alright with being featured. That was just the start of my problems though, as I found myself struggling to find interesting story angles, and asking follow-up questions just didn't come very naturally to me. I felt like I was wasting everyone's time, but after guidance from and lots of editing by Justina, I'm pretty pleased with how the feature turned out in the end! 

An oversight on my part for another one of my stories for this issue also resulted in a re-shoot at the photographer's studio. With all that said, I'm so thankful for the faith and trust the team placed in me to write these stories, and for being blessed with such great colleagues who are forgiving and understanding of my mistakes and flaws. 

June/ July 2016 

This Summer issue was my favourite one to work on! The photo shoots were all so fun and interesting, and I particularly enjoyed how the focus for this issue was placed on how the pages looked. #AESTHETICS. I had nine main stories, and I'm actually happy with how every single one of them turned out - there weren't any major hiccups in the process too. 

One of the most memorable shoots for this issue was when we had to stage a summer pool party for two Labradors. This was Eugenia's (Features Writer) shoot but she needed all the manpower she could get as we had very ambitious plans for this story. The double page spread was so effort-intensive, and it definitely opened my eyes to things that go on behind-the-scenes that our readers will not get to appreciate. There were so many props required, from swan and flamingo pool floats we loaned, to dog-safe fruit popsicles we made the day before. Thankfully, we were able to get the contact of someone who was kind enough to lend us her pool and dog. 

We had quite a lot of fun, although I was running a high fever and bad cold. 

To be honest, seeing all these popular floats on Instagram, I've always wanted to get on one of them and I'm glad I got the opportunity to - though I look nothing like all those beach babes. 

While I enjoyed the work I did during my internship, it's really the people that brought my experience to the next level. Initially, I was apprehensive about being in an environment that I'm not used to, with people of different ages, thoughts, and way of life. However, these worries were unfounded, and I found myself right at home in the m(int) family. Even though I was just an intern, they were so accepting of me, my quirks, and my ignorance of the world. Everyone was so willing to give me advice, and share their insights and wisdom with me. We bonded over the perpetually closing stalls at the coffee shop opposite our office, the nasi lemak at Commerce, the udon at nex (when we had slightly more time), and Astons at Kallang Wave Mall (when we had a lot more time). 

And it wasn't just the pets team alone. As most knew that I first applied for the food position, they always kept me in mind during things like tastings in the office, or the various media drops we were constantly blessed with. I helped with epicure magazine for a while as well when they were short-handed, and even got to attend a bread-making masterclass with Christophe Grilo.

Separately, I got the chance to attend my first media event with Eugenia. It was a Melissa shoes x Jeremy Scott fashion launch which was held at OverEasy at Orchard.

While I didn't manage to take a group shot at my farewell lunch, thank you to all of you who took time out to have lunch with me at Pasarbella @ Suntec City! From the top of my head (sorry if I missed you out), thank you Adeline, Leyna, Ben, Kayli, Kah Khee, Sharon, Maria, Weets, June, Stephanie, Eugenia, and Justina. 

And I can't thank the pets editorial team enough, for welcoming me with open arms and teaching me so much more than you guys will ever know.

With Justina. 

With Eugenia. 

With Ben. 

With Stephanie. 

Pets Picnic Party 2016 

My internship was supposed to end on 31 May, at exactly 6 months, but we decided that it'd make more sense to extend it by a few days so that I'd be able to attend/ help out at the Pets Picnic Party on 4 June since I was already involved in the planning of the event. 

Held once a year, the party is a ticketed event for dogs and their paw-rents to come together and have a fun-filled day with food, fun, and friends! This year, it was held at Sentosa Cove and we had a weekend market, stage games, great food, adoption drive, and fantastic lucky draw prizes. I'd say that it's probably the best way I could ever choose to end off my internship - being surrounded by so many adorable pooches as well as having fun with all my colleagues.

With Kah Khee. She's the design intern, and she shares very similar thoughts and views with me. I'm super grateful for the past few months where I got to see her everyday. 


Of course, what's a party without cotton candy? 

Feeling so loved, and immensely thankful for these wonderful six months. 
I miss it so much already. 
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