New Colombo Plan - Connect to Australia’s future - study in the region.

Virtual Agriculture Professional Practicum

Molly Smith was a participant in the 2022 Virtual Agriculture Professional Practicum. Molly is a Bachelor of Agriculture student from The University of Melbourne. Molly received a $3,000 New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant to support her participation in this program.

Q: Why did you decide to undertake the ACICIS virtual internship program?

When I started studying, I made a vow to take advantage of every opportunity that arose. So, when I received an email from my university about this program, I thought what a great chance to widen my network, learn about the Indonesian culture and language and what the agriculture sector looks like over there, I couldn’t pass it up. Not only was this an excellent experience to broaden my education and network, but it was also a chance for me to learn more about my grandfather’s heritage, as he was Dutch-Indonesian.

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

Yes, I received the NCP grant, which is an excellent initiative provided by the Government not only strengthens the relationship between Indonesia and Australia but also provides students with an incredible opportunity to learn more about the world in which we live.

Q: How have you found the academic components of this virtual program?

All the academic components were executed tremendously well, and it was an excellent opportunity to meet students from all around Australia with both similar and different career interests. The language classes were the standout for me personally. The teacher we had managed to engage every student on a virtual platform with ease and went above and beyond to ensure we were getting the most out of the course. The seminars and tutorials were interesting, thought-provoking, and covered a great selection of different subjects, some of which I wouldn’t have learned or known about otherwise!

 Q: Which organisation did you intern with? 

I interned with a consultancy company called NIRAS, who embraced myself and the other student I interned with as if we were permanent team members. Our mentor, Sasi, went above and beyond to make time for us in her busy schedule to ensure we settled in well and to make sure we could come to her with any questions or concerns we may have had. Interning with NIRAS gave us an incredible opportunity to be a part of huge international, government projects that were focused on sustainability, gender equality, lowering carbon emissions and pushing toward a circular economy. We were also given the opportunity to write a research report that would help form the basis of a pitch for a potential project, which was very exciting to be a part of!

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

Given that the last few years everything had been online, I didn’t find that there weren’t many differences in the work culture. However, one key difference was the friendliness of all the staff. When we finished our placement, every single staff member told us to reach out to them if we ever needed any professional advice or if we were ever in the country to meet up, which I found not as common in a professional work environment in Australia.

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

Over the 5-week internship the skills that were expanded on the most would have been communication and research. These skills will be beneficial in developing a career in any sector and will hopefully assist me if I ever attempt to work with or for a company in Indonesia.

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

The most rewarding experience would definitely be the relationships that were formed with my fellow students, the ACICIS staff and the NIRAS team. These relationships will be unforgettable, and I hope to utilise the connections I have made in the future.

Q: Were you able to learn about the Indonesian culture from this virtual program?

Having never been to Indonesia and only learning about it through stories and recipes from my grandfather, I did not have a lot to compare it to. The cultural activities and the stories and “virtual tours” provided by ACICIS, really gave good insight as to what the Indonesian culture is all about in a virtual setting. I have plans to travel as soon as we are able!

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

Over the 5-week internship I was able to develop skills that will be transferrable to any career path I decide to take. It opened my eyes to all the possibilities my agriculture degree can give not just in Australia but overseas as well. Working with my internship organisation was beneficial to me in so many aspects but particularly, gave me great professional experience and taught me how to conduct myself in an international setting.

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

I already have! My friends at my home university have already heard me rave about how great this program is! Even though I got so much out of this experience online, as soon as it is able to re-commence in person, I am sure it will offer a whole new range of priceless experiences.

Q. Favourite Indonesian word/phrase:

Terima kasih banyak

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

Welcoming, informative, and captivating.