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Virtual Business Professional Practicum

Mehul Gopal was a participant on the 2021 Virtual Business Professional Practicum. Mehul is studying a Bachelor of Commerce at Curtin University. Mehul 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?

While at first my decision to undertake the ACICIS virtual internship program was based on gaining credit for a unit at Curtin University, as I got to know the program and all the various aspects of the program, the program continued to be more and more appealing. The program offers a mixture of academic and professional experience and is run in a professional manner.

Q: Did you receive a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant? Do you think the NCP is an important initiative?

Yes, I did receive the New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant. I think the NCP plan is a great initiative allowing more and more Australian students to have experiences in and learn more about some of our closest neighbours and our greatest future economic partners.

Q: How have you found the academic components of this virtual program – i.e. the language classes/seminars?

The language classes were great and allowed me to gain a great grasp of basic Indonesian in a fairly short period of time, while the seminars were great to learn about the Indonesian economy, politics, culture, environment etc. and were run in a professional and timely manner with great insights from guest speakers and the program officers.

Q: What organisation did you intern with? 

I was with the Economic Research Institute of ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA). My role at the economic thinktank, was to use the results from recent ERIA survey about the economic impact of Covid-19 on foreign firms to guide and write a policy briefing. After examining the results I wrote a policy briefing on the Investment climates in the ASEAN region in the coming years focusing on Indonesia, The Philippines and Vietnam and this is set to be published by the firm in the coming months.

Q: How have you found the work culture (albeit online) of your host organisation? How is it different to work experience in Australia?

At ERIA the work culture was very similar to Australia. As an International think tank focusing on the ASEAN and East Asia, the only language used was English and all meetings were held on a timely manner.

Q: What are the main skills you have learnt during your virtual internship?

The main skills I leant during the virtual internship were digital communication, a vital skill in the coming years, data analysis and research skills.

Q: What did you find to be the most rewarding part of this virtual experience?

The most rewarding part of my virtual experience was the internship. After receiving feedback from my supervisor at the end and knowing that all my hard work will be published was very rewarding.

Q: Were you able to learn about the Indonesian culture from this virtual program? If yes, how was this achieved?

While it was maybe a little more difficult to immerse myself in Indonesian culture in the virtual environment, it was still possible at times. Learning Bahasa Indonesia and talking to my language teachers allowed me to understand bits and pieces of Indoneisan culture and talking to some of the ACICIS staff and Academic Program Officers during the seminars also helped in learning some differences, similarities and interesting things about the diverse and vast nation.

Q: How will the virtual internship benefit or influence your career?

The virtual Internship has solidified my decision to study Economics at university. Learning about and experiencing what an economist’s role is and a possible professional role I could come into was a great experience.

Q: Would you recommend this virtual program to your friends?

Yes, 100%, the program while intensive and time consuming was a great experience, while it would have probably been better in person, the virtual experience was still awesome.

Q: Favourite Indonesian word/phrase: 

“Jam Karet” – Cultural phenomenon of being late to meetings and events. This phrase makes me laugh and reminds me of my Indian Culture, where many people are similarly late to weddings and meetings.

Q: Describe your experience of the virtual internship program in three words: