Journalism Professional Practicum

Sherry Zhang is a private participant in the 2019 Journalism Professional Practicum from the University of Auckland.

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

I wanted to jump into the deep end, and challenge myself by learning practical skills and working in a different cultural environment. ACICIS offered me both the opportunity to undertake a Communications internship, and the ability to learn another language and travel. I didn’t want to spend my summer in a bubble back home, and I am grateful I could fully engage and connect with another culture while using my skills during the practicum.

Q: Did you receive a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant? If so, how did this contribute to your experience in Indonesia?

The Asia New Zealand Foundation funded my trip, and it really helped as I would have found paying for the plane tickets and course fees daunting. My grant also paid for my accommodation which meant I could live relatively comfortably without worrying too much about budgeting, and use the money I’d saved up on travelling and other activities.

Q: How will the Professional Practicum benefit or influence your future career?

It’s given me an insight into communications in a corporate space, and into risk analysis, which is a field that would have been very difficult for an undergraduate to access. It’s opened my eyes up to another career pathway I could pursue, one which I’d never previously considered. It’s also given me a leg up in experience as I continue my law and communications degree.  At the same time, it also confirmed my passions for journalism, as it was very inspiring to listen to our guest speakers and be in a programme with other high achieving and ambitious students.  I’d never seriously considered working as a journalist overseas, however it’s definitely opened my eyes and I’m excited to see how my next few years play out. It’s given me a push to stop being so hesitant, because this is exactly the direction in which I want my career to go.

Q: What organisation did you intern with? (Explain your roles and responsibilities)

Hill & Associates as a Risk Analysis Intern. I worked on Daily Risk Reports, which we would send out to embassies, NGO’s and international business. This includes looking at local news media and identifying business, economic, political and physical risks. In the afternoon, I would work on a more in depth report the company would send out – I was tasked with looking at social media and hoax news leading up to the election.

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

I had a very welcoming and focused team. I also got to know the other parts of the team, such as the security analysts who worked on slightly different projects. The mentors were very considerate, and would always check in on everyone. As much as we worked, we would also have a lot of fun, with lots of good humour and banter.  My colleagues would take us out to lunch, and show us where the best cheap eats were. I was very lucky to be so well looked after, and my fellow intern and I were brought traditional Indonesian snacks to try in the morning. Even though Hill & Associates is an international company, the working culture was typically Indonesian – laid back and full of good humour

Q: Would you like to return to work in Indonesia again in future?

I would love to! The work is very engaging and dynamic.

Q: What do you like to do in your spare time in Indonesia?

I stayed with some amazing people during the program, and made life-long friends. We would try find all the warungs and Padang restaurants tucked in the corners, visited the nearby cemetery and walked along the streets looking to get lost and trying to find our way back home. The sunsets were really vibrant, and I was lucky enough to check out the nightlife as well. We would also watch movies with the Indonesian friends we made and I also managed to watch a traditional Javanese Opera show.

Q: Favourite Indonesian word/phrase?


Q: Favourite place to eat? Favourite Indonesian food?

Dadar Gulung, coconut pancakes that my co-worker brought in one morning , the jackfruit curry at Padang restaurants and milo on tap!

Q: What places in Indonesia have you visited during your practicum so far?

Bogor, Yogyakarta, Thousand Islands and Bali