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Business Professional Practicum

Benjamin Thomas was a participant in the 2018 Business Professional Practicum from The University of Western Australia. Ben is studying a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Finance. Ben received a $3,000 New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant to support his participation in this program.

Q: Why did you decide to undertake ACICIS’ Business Professional Practicum?

I was sifting through some of the many promotional emails sent to me through the university when I saw the ACICIS email regarding the professional practicums. I thought it sounded like a great way to gain industry experience so I applied thinking “Why not? I don’t think I’ll get accepted but I have nothing to lose”. I don’t regret the decision at all – it has been a life changing experience.

Q: How will the Business Professional Practicum benefit or influence your future career?

I have gained some fantastic experience in the financial sector. I have come to realise that a significant determining factor in your eventual success in the industry isn’t so much your grades or theoretical knowledge and understandings of abstract concepts, but more so your practical experience and your ability to connect with people and start important conversations. It has taught me what I should prioritise in order to achieve my career ambitions.

Q: Which organisation did you intern with? What were your responsibilities? 

I interned with the National Australia Bank (NAB). During my time at NAB’s representative office in Jakarta I performed a variety of tasks; industry research, assisted in the preparation of internal and external documents, and attended meetings with industry leaders from many sectors.

Q: How did you find the work culture of your host organisation? How was it different to work experience in Australia?

The work culture is very different to back home. It is more relaxed yet at the same time more formal. During the internship, I was the first person at work every single day. That’s not to say people in Indonesia don’t work hard, it’s just that everything happens at a different pace here – it’s a less stressful environment. Despite the relaxed nature of the work environment, it’s still important to uphold formalities, as in addressing people by their proper titles and being conscious of your body language.

Q: Would you like to return to work in Indonesia again in future?

I would definitely return to work in Indonesia again as there are some fantastic opportunities for career-driven people with an open mind. Career opportunities aside, it’s also a great place to meet fun and interesting people. I’ve probably made more friends in the past 2 months than I have in the 6 months leading up to the program.

Q: What do you like to do in your spare time in Indonesia?

Admittedly, I have spent the vast majority of my spare time either eating amazing food or looking for places to get my next meal. The food culture in Jakarta is great – travel 10km in any direction from the CBD and you’ll likely come across hundreds of great restaurants and street food vendors from many different nationalities and cultures. I’m definitely going to have to put in a few extra hours in the gym when I get home.

Q: Favourite Indonesian food?

Martabak is by far my favourite food – both Indonesian and otherwise. Anyone that talked to me for longer than 5 minutes probably heard of my undying love for martabak. It’s essentially a giant, thick crumpet, slathered in mountains of butter, condensed milk, chocolate, and cheese. The chocolate and cheese combination usually makes people apprehensive to try it, and I was no exception, but it’s definitely something you have to do.

Q: Favourite Indonesian word/phrase?

Jam Karet: Rubber time

It’s in reference to the lack of punctuality and hurriedness of people living in Jakarta. Organised times for events are very flexible. If someone organises to meet you at a specified time, it’s not uncommon for them to be 30-60+ minutes late.

Q: What places in Indonesia have you visited during your practicum so far?

Myself and a few other students went to Bali for one of the weekends. Our villa was located in the heart of Ubud, in close proximity to forests and temples. We spent our days exploring rice paddies, waterfalls, and sampling the local cuisine, and our nights relaxing either by the pool or in the lounge area. It was a fantastic trip, and not one that I’ll soon forget.