Virtual Development Studies Professional Practicum

Sophie Dawson was a participant in the 2021 Virtual Development Studies Professional Practicum. Sophie is currently undertaking postgraduate studies at Deakin University.

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

I decided to undertake the ACICIS program as I am incredibly passionate about development in Indonesia and thought it was a great opportunity to gain work experience with an Indonesian organisation. Additionally, at this time with covid it seemed like a great option to still be able to participate in internships online despite not being able to be in country.

Q: What did you find to be the more rewarding part of this virtual program?

I think the most rewarding part of the program was working with a local organisation whose values strongly aligned with mine. Reducing plastic pollution is something I often advocate for so learning about how this topic is handled in Indonesia was incredibly beneficial. As well as that, building connections with the ECOTON staff is something I found incredibly rewarding and hope that relationship will continue into the future.

Q: What did you find to be the most challenging about your experience on this virtual program?

One of the things I found challenging during the virtual internship was simply not having other people working alongside me. I often find being surrounded by others is a very motivating factor so working from home, with much of the work being done independently was a challenge.

Q: What organisation did you intern with?

I interned with ECOTON who are an environmental organisation in Gresik, East Java are and are tackling the plastic pollution in Brantas River. My role was to write a report on waste management in Australia including production, exports, sorting facilities and government initiatives to reduce waste. Additionally, I created a survey for my local community to assess their knowledge on Australian exports, waste production and microplastics. I then presented my findings to the staff at ECOTON for them to compare to waste management systems in Indonesia and work towards implementing a waste segregation system in their community.

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

I have found working with ECOTON an incredibly rewarding experience and have learnt to adapt to a different way of working. The work culture seems to be a bit more relaxed and flexible to what I have experienced in Australia, for example plans or times changing but it’s a really friendly environment with everyone reaching out to help with any tasks or language/cultural understandings.

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

I learnt a great deal about international waste management systems throughout this internship as well as legislation around imports and exports. Writing a report on this was a great experience in developing a large piece of work rather than shorter essays I have been used to. I would also say working and adapting to another countries system of operations is another key skill showing versatility and ability to adapt to different environments and ways of working.

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

This virtual internship will be a huge benefit to my future career as I hope to work in the development sector in Indonesia in the future so having this experience behind me, already having interned with an Indonesian organisations, as well as improving my Bahasa will be a massive advantage to work in Indonesia in the future.

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

I would highly recommend this program to friends, not only as a great work experience opportunity, but it was also very interesting to learn about current social and political topics in Indonesia and compare systems to Australia. It’s a great opportunity that will open so many doors for the future and with an open mind you will learn so much in a short time about Indonesia’s culture.