Frances Garcia was a participant in the 2021 Virtual Agriculture Professional Practicum. Frances is a Master of Agribusiness student from The University of Queensland.
Q: Why did you decide to undertake the ACICIS virtual internship program?
I decided to join the program because I believed it would be an amazing opportunity to virtually visit Indonesia and learn about its culture and its agriculture sector. Moreover, the unique and immersive experience that blended the academic and the professional, appealed to me as a way to develop vital skills, improve my current knowledge base, and gain an important global perspective.
Q: How have you found the academic components of this virtual program?
The different components of the intensive period ensured that it was not only challenging but also engaging. The language course demonstrated the importance of language as a pathway to truly appreciating culture. It was also a fun way to get to know my fellow program attendees. Moreover, the combination of seminars, field trips, and tutorials proved to be most impactful. I still find it awe-inspiring how the program was able to provide a multifaceted understanding of Indonesia’s rich history, culture and current environment, along with a relevant look into the nation’s agriculture sector – all in a span of a few weeks!
Q: Which organisation did you intern with?
I was an intern of Tanifund, the agricultural fintech arm of Tanihub, an Indonesian start-up that helps local farmers get loans, better prices, and more customers for their agricultural produce and activities. My role entailed that I conduct research on different topics and present my findings to the team. I was also fortunate to be given the chance to attend virtual farm tours with my mentor where I was able to learn about the potential and ongoing agricultural projects of Tanifund.
Q: How have you found the work culture (albeit online) of your host organisation? How is it different to work experience in Australia?
The work culture of Tanifund was welcoming and engaging. My mentor ensured that my internship would be a 2-way journey, filled not only with numerous opportunities to learn and gain relevant practical experience but also many chances to contribute and participate as a valuable member of the team.
Q: What are the main skills you have learnt during your virtual internship?
Working with my host organisation allowed me to hone my inter-cultural communication skills and my multi-cultural adaptability. Moreover, having to juggle my university requirements with my internship responsibilities improved my flexibility and my time management skills.
Q: What did you find to be the most rewarding part of this virtual experience?
While there are many rewarding aspects of my experience, the most fulfilling part is the creation of meaningful relationships with my fellow program attendees, my mentor, and the ACICIS staff. Despite having everything online, the relationships built were indeed authentic and valuable.
Q: Were you able to learn about the Indonesian culture from this virtual program?
The different components of the program from the language classes that served as a gateway to understanding the culture, to the seminars that relayed both general and specific knowledge of the nation and its agriculture sector, and lastly, to the internship that provided practical experience – all proved to be immensely helpful in understanding and greatly appreciating Indonesia in its entirety.
Q: How will the virtual internship benefit or influence your future career?
The insights, perspectives, and the professional knowledge I acquired from the hands-on and participatory approach of the program enabled me to understand the global interconnectedness of the agriculture sector. Moreover, the skills I have honed from working and studying online allowed me to be resilient and adaptable. The total experience has inspired me to continue to be a life-long global learner.
Q. Would you recommend this virtual program to your friends?
Q. Favourite Indonesian word/phrase:
With its meaning of enthusiasm and “having spirit”, it perfectly encapsulates the positive and encouraging experience I had with this program.
Q. Describe your experience of the virtual internship program in three words:
Insightful, holistic, engaging