My Backend Engineering Internship at 4xLabs in Ho Chi Minh City
30 August 2019
I took up this internship with 4xLabs as part of an overseas internship program offered by NUS called NOC (NUS Overseas College). In summary, I spent 3 months in Ho Chi Minh City working with the development team in the Vietnam office. I was given the role of a backend engineer.
Although this role is technical, I interestingly spent the first 5 weeks or so performing the tasks of a product manager. These included understanding the use cases of Biz4x and testing the product itself to find bugs. I had to work with the product intern, who was also my roommate, to understand to the best of our abilities, the requirements and reasoning behind some of the functions of Biz4x. Almost every evening, we would have an end-of-day review through Skype with our supervisor and head of product, Joseph Loh, who guided us to better understand the product.
After spending the first few weeks with 4xLabs on product management, I checked with Joseph as to when I would properly start on the tasks described in my actual job scope. It turns out that the assignment to product management initially was intentional. He wanted me to fully understand the product, especially the recent multi-stock feature which the team was working on, before starting on the technical aspect of my job.
This was my first time in Vietnam, as such, there were some challenges we faced while working in the country. Language barrier was an issue, and as Singaporeans, we are used to talking quickly, hence it was sometimes a little challenging to get our questions and concerns across fully. However, we eventually overcame that obstacle through solutions such as talking slower, drawing out our problems or writing down our questions in text.
This was also my first internship. To put it bluntly, I was quite lost when I started on the technical role as a backend engineer. However, my colleagues over in Vietnam were extremely patient and helpful people. They would always tell me not to hesitate and ask them if I needed help.
One of my tasks, which I ended up spending a significant amount of time working on, was to create the queries for generating regulatory reports for Indonesian accounts in the xlsx format. Some of these reports were really challenging work on, as I would then have to consider the impact of the new multi-stock feature on the data for these reports. In addition, I had to do a lot of self- and on-the-job learning, as I had minimal experience with C# and no experience in SQL. Again, my colleagues helped me a lot whenever I faced challenges.
Another important thing I learnt was clarifying tasks before starting your project. It does not feel good to be working on something for a long time only to find out later that was not part of, or different from the requirements. There is guidance, however, the onus is also on the intern to ask questions and be proactive to make the internship experience a very fulfilling one.
All in all, I was happy and satisfied with both the technical and non-technical aspects of what I have learnt. The invaluable skills I gained will be useful for working not just in Singapore, but also in other countries!
- Muhammad Harun, Backend Engineering Intern
4xLabs is a Singapore fintech that develops technology solutions for financial and professional services. In 2012, the company launched an online app for comparing money changing rates known as Get4x, which has a growing community of 260,000 users, and is available in 22 cities. In 2016, it launched an online integrated platform for money services business to manage all aspects of their business, known as Biz4x. Biz4x is used in more than 35 countries today. The latest innovation from 4xLabs is Send4x, a platform that compares and breaks down the cost of remittance.