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Virtual Business Professional Practicum

Minh Bui was a participant on the 2021 Virtual Business Professional Practicum. Minh is studying a Bachelor of Arts at The University of Sydney. Minh 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?

My interest in joining the ACICIS Business Professional Practicum (BPP) stemmed from the opportunity to learn from experienced business professionals with extensive knowledge of the Indonesian business and regulatory environment. I believe the BPP helps students to put business theory and analysis into practice in an Indonesian workplace environment while enhancing their understanding of Indonesian business culture. More specifically, I was able to gain first-hand experience in a prominent Indonesian think-tank called the Institute for the Development of Economics and Finance (INDEF), which focuses on conducting research and reviewing public policies, especially in the fields of economics and finance. INDEF also engages in policy debate, increasing public participation and sensitivity in the public policy making process as a means of finding the solutions to Indonesia’s economic and social problems. Furthermore, I also had the opportunity to expand my professional network to include Indonesian researchers and policy advisors, long-term professional connections which may prove valuable for my career in the future.

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

I received a New Colombo Plan Virtual Mobility Grant for the virtual six-week Business Professional Practicum program. The NCP is a very important initiative because it has given thousands of undergraduate students the opportunity to live, study and undertake internships in the Indo-Pacific region. Indeed, I have been able to gain international experience and build lasting relationships and friendships in Australia’s closest and most important neighbour, and this would not have been possible without NCP mobility funding.

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

I found the language component of the BPP program to be my favourite. My teacher, Ibu Kasih Elisabet from Universitas Katolik Atma Jaya, was very enthusiastic in teaching my classmates and I, and she brought a lot of energy to every class. My fluency in Bahasa Indonesia improved considerably, and I was able to expand my vocabulary and become more proficient in listening, speaking, grammar, and writing. The other academic components such as the seminars, field trips, and tutorials very informative and enabled me to develop a stronger understanding of Indonesia’s business and regulatory environment and learn about a broad range of topics like Indonesia’s economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the digital and creative sectors, and corporate social responsibilities.

Q: What organisation did you intern with? 

I interned at the Institute for Development of Economics and Finance (INDEF) as a research assistant. One of the main tasks for my internship was to research Indonesia’s new sovereign wealth fund and the role it can play in financing infrastructure investment outside of Java. More specifically, I wrote a report which analysed the proposed model for the Indonesian sovereign wealth fund and discussed case studies of successful sovereign wealth funds in Australia and Norway. Another task of mine was to research Australia’s economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic. I wrote a journal article detailing how policymakers have implemented fiscal and monetary policy to mitigate the economic fallout of border closures and lockdowns.

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

My team meetings at INDEF were very relaxed and had a lot of light-hearted banter, and my supervisors and other interns treated me like an equal and listened to my perspectives. By interning at INDEF, I was able to gain a better insight into the advocacy and research that is conducted on daily basis at a policy institute. I was given a great deal of leeway and time to complete my research tasks, and this may not have been the case if the internship was completed in an Australian think tank.

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

One of the main skills that I developed was my proficiency in the academic usage of Bahasa Indonesia. Having lived in Jakarta for several months, I had already become fluent in the colloquial form of Bahasa Indonesia and was able to converse with local Indonesians quite comfortably. However, I was barely proficient in the formal/academic vocabulary, grammar, and writing style suited for research. Indeed, I encountered considerable difficulty when writing my research articles in Bahasa Indonesia to an acceptable academic standard. I had to rely heavily on Google Translate and a native speaker friend, and in the process mastered enough formal Bahasa Indonesia to produce detailed research articles.

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

I enjoyed the Bahasa Indonesia classes the most of all the activities during the BPP. I enjoy learning different languages and like previously mentioned, my teacher’s enthusiasm was infectious.

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

Having been to Indonesia several times, I have already had some exposure to Indonesia’s multicultural, multireligious, and multiethnic society. I did not learn a great deal extra from the BPP program because of previous exposure and experience, however I did learn a small amount about Sundanese culture because my supervisors at INDEF are from that ethnic background.

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

As an Australian, I have always been interested in Bahasa Indonesia and Indonesia’s projected trajectory to become the world’s fourth largest economy. I strongly believe in the importance of Indonesian language, cultural and workplace immersion as tools to better connect Australians with Indonesia and ensuring Australia’s sustainable relevance in the archipelago. Upon graduation, I am committed to pursuing a career at the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT) in Jakarta, and have an interest in advising policymakers on foreign trade policy with regards to Indonesia. It is my goal to use my language ability, cultural and professional experience in the Indonesian archipelago to strengthen the two-way trade ties between our countries, and play a role in negotiating free trade agreements like the newly ratified Indonesia–Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA). Furthermore, I am interested in connecting Australian businesses with Indonesian-speaking populations back home in Australia and overseas in the Southeast Asian region.

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

Absolutely! This program is rewarding and enables you to gain international experience and expand your professional network in Indonesia, a key partner of Australia’s.

Q: Favourite Indonesian word/phrase: 

Iya dong!

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

Challenging, Insightful, Rewarding