Ethan James was a participant on the 2021 Virtual Business Professional Practicum. Ethan is studying a Bachelor of International Studies/Bachelor of Commerce at Deakin University. Ethan received a $3,000 New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant to support his participation in this program.
Q: Why did you decide to undertake the ACICIS program?
I’ve always been curious about Indonesian culture and language, and with Indonesia’s bright economic future, being knowledgeable about their culture is important. I’ve also always wanted to live abroad, so the opportunity of interning and gaining experience with an organisation in a different country and culture from my own, all whilst working from the comfort of my own home, was too good to pass on.
Q: Did you receive a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant? Do you think the NCP is an important initiative?
I did receive a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant. The NCP is a very important initiative, as enabling young Australians to develop relationships and cultural understandings in the Indo-Pacific will ensure a prosperous future for Australia, as the Indo-Pacific is ripe with opportunities and they are our neighbours.
Q: How have you found the academic components of this virtual program – i.e. the language classes/seminars?
I found my intro Bahasa Indonesia class to be pretty easy during the first few lessons, but then the difficulty was increased dramatically, and required more focus and effort. It was well taught, I enjoyed it, and I would definitely recommend it to others.
Q: What organisation did you intern with?
I interned with the Victorian Government Trade and Investment (VGTI) in their education team, along with fellow ACICIS intern Harry. We were tasked with clarifying and expanding their alumni database through emailing existing known alumni and alumni networks, so that they could easily invite alumni to events. We were then tasked with creating education agent databases for various Southeast Asian countries, again for events. Lastly, we were asked to write a report on the IA-CEPA agreement, and how it impacts Victorian education providers. Additionally, we were periodically asked to summarise reports and other small tasks for the commissioner. Our other responsibilities included daily one-on-one meetings between Harry and I, every-other-day meetings with our VGTI mentors (as we missed the daily team meetings because of our Bahasa classes), a monthly Southeast Asia office meeting, and an optional Indo-Pacific education sector seminar and roundtable.
Q: How have you found the work culture (albeit online) of your host organisation? How is it different to work experience in Australia?
As I was working in for a Victorian Government organisation, the work culture wasn’t a great shock to me, as there were no cultural barriers, although it was my first time working in a professional environment, so there was some adjusting.
Q: What are the main skills you have learnt during your virtual internship?
Being professional and representing a large and important organisation is something that I’ve never done before, so there was a lot to learn and it will be invaluable for when I enter the job market soon. Additionally, knowing how to work from home and creating a work environment at home is another key skill that will pay dividends down the line.
Q: What did you find the most rewarding part of this virtual experience?
Knowing that the work I did will make a difference for a large organisation and that it wasn’t just work for the sake of work is extremely rewarding and encouraging. Additionally, connecting with other like-minded students and work colleagues made my sacrifices during the practicum feel rewarding, it was definitely worth it.
Q: Were you able to learn about the Indonesian culture from this virtual program? If yes, how was this achieved?
I definitely learnt a lot about Indonesian culture, specifically business culture and current business issues in Indonesia. The range of speakers during the virtual program was impressive, and although one or two might not interest you or be useful to yourself, I guarantee that you will find a speaker who’s engaging and interesting. Discussing the presentations with peers was another key aspect of the practicum, as everyone has different perspectives and views, especially those in different practicums.
Q: How will the virtual internship benefit or influence your career?
It’s given me a lot more confidence in myself, as I now know that I am suited to work in a professional environment, and I know what that environment looks like. In the future, I won’t hesitate to apply for jobs in different countries and cultures, because I know I’ve got the tools to be successful. Additionally, having some experience at a fantastic organisation to put on the resume doesn’t hurt, and the contacts I’ve made during my practicum will make finding a graduate job a lot easier. This program has also confirmed that working in the public sector is something I would love, as the environment suits me well.
Q: Would you recommend this virtual program to your friends?
Yes, I already have.
Q: Favourite Indonesian word/phrase:
Saya suka makan.
Q: Describe your experience of the virtual internship program in three words:
Engaging, Helpful, & Encouraging