My Product Management Internship at 4xLabs in Saigon
30 August 2019
My internship was part of the NUS Overseas Colleges programme and marked the first time that 4xLabs sent interns to their Vietnam office. I was fortunate to be part of the pioneer batch of interns gaining overseas work experience in Vietnam. Although this was a foreign country, the warmth of my colleagues in Vietnam made me look forward to work every day. At work, they were very supportive and patient with my questions. Although I was just an “intern” and they were experienced developers, they were willing to spend time explaining the system and how the codes work to me. After work, they would share some tips on living in Saigon, such as what food to try, where to visit and how to cross the road. Their friendliness and inclusiveness meant that I could freely ask questions, make impactful decisions and have discussions with senior developers. These created a very effective learning environment for me.
When I first started my internship, Harun (another intern) and I were assigned to test a major upgrade of the stock feature on the system together. Our supervisor, Joseph Loh, who was the Product Head in the Singapore office, knew that we did not have any experience with testing before and we were still new to the Biz4x system. To help us adjust, he would give us a Skype call to resolve all our doubts and provide guidance every day, although he was very busy in Singapore. After we finished the testing, we were given more impactful tasks. We had to create tickets for the issues and bugs we discovered, assign them to developers, monitor the progress and work with the developers to find the quickest and most holistic solution for resolving these issues. In the process, we had many opportunities to provide our suggestions as long as they were based on valid reasons. We did not feel like we were interns at all. We were more like regular colleagues that were part of the team. After resolving all the issues, it was time to release the exciting upgrade to our product. Harun and I stayed back late to assist with this major release. We had the opportunity to witness the intelligent developers plan carefully to carry out highly complex tasks required for a seemingly quick and easy upgrade of our product. We came to understand that the features we took for granted when using the software actually involved a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.
After this release, I was trusted by Joseph to re-design some of the system features in order to make them more user-friendly. To do this, I had to analyse the competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. By referencing this information, I would gain insight on improving the product to enhance its competitiveness in the market. This was an exciting and fulfilling experience because I had the chance to create something impactful and really implement it within the product. With my internship nearing its end, I had to hand over my duties here to others. My supervisor had to hire some new people (mainly testers). It was very surprising that I had the opportunity to be involved in the interview process, from explaining our system, to asking the applicants questions, to evaluating if they were suitable for the job. All my experience would become a sweet and unforgettable memory for years to come. I could not imagine learning and growing so much in just a summer, if I had not joined the internship program at 4xLabs.
What I learnt from my supervisor and the internship:
- A good relationship with developers is a prerequisite for getting anything done. You have to respect, appreciate and participate in their culture, instead of expecting the locals to adapt to your own culture. When you acquire resources, you must be accountable. As a leader, responsibility is not just about delegating tasks, but doing whatever you can to help your teammates achieve goals. You must take responsibility, together with your teammates you assign tasks to, when things go south. You have to put yourself in your teammates’ shoes. You need to truly understand and resolve their difficulties in order to create a better working environment for your teammates. All these will gain you respect from your teammates and make it easier for you to work with them.
- Don’t reinvent the wheel. The first step to improving a product is to learn from the better ones first. Once you attain that level of competency, you can then start innovating to be better than others. This is the most cost-effective way of improving products.
- Prioritise tasks by the impact on revenue. Resources are limited in start-ups. We have to maximise all resources to generate more cash for the company. With more cash, we can expand our team and do more cool stuff.
If you want to gain international exposure and learn more about product management during summer break, this is definitely one of the best internships out there!
- O Hung Lung, Patrick, Product Management 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.