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Virtual Journalism Professional Practicum

Xenia Sanut was a participant in the 2021 Virtual Journalism Professional Practicum. Xenia is studying a Bachelor of Arts (Journalism) & Diploma of Languages (Japanese Studies) at Monash University. She 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 program?

As I have progressed in my university studies, I started to notice my interests were leaning very strongly to media and communications in the Asia-Pacific. It was then when I heard about the ACICIS JPP program from not only a friend, but also by the Australian-Indonesian Youth Association (AIYA) and then my university faculty, so it seemed like destiny was pointing me towards the JPP.

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

Being a recipient of the New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant made me realise what an incredibly important initiative it is. I know quite a few people my age in Australia who are a bit hesitant to learn more about the countries and cultures in the Indo-Pacific because the region seems too different to what they know or they feel it is too difficult to learn about the region because of the language barrier. However, NCP helps make those cross-cultural learning experiences more accessible and encourages Australian undergraduate students to learn about our neighbours in Asia and to foster closer personal and business connections with them.

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

The language classes and seminars were absolutely incredible. I learnt more Bahasa Indonesia in five weeks than I ever thought possible and the seminars opened my eyes to the media industry in Indonesia, the challenges they can face reporting on certain political and social issues there, and their advice on getting an entry-level journalist position in the region – advice that I will continue to carry with me throughout my career and studies.

Q: What organisation did you intern with? 

I was an intern at a bi-monthly travel and lifestyle magazine called InClover. As their upcoming issue was about travel and wellness, I pitched article ideas to the editor-in-chief that related to that theme, researched content, sourced images, attended virtual events, and wrote articles about the latest hotels and resorts, upcoming social events and wellness products for their website and the next magazine issue. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic putting restrictions on travel, there was plenty to do!

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

I worked independently most of the time because of the distance between myself in Melbourne and the InClover office in Jakarta but they were still incredibly welcoming and always wanted to keep me occupied. We mainly communicated via WhatsApp and emails, particularly about any articles, pitches and feedback. Aside from the editor-in-chief and the editorial coordinator, I did not have as much contact with the remainder of the team due to the little crossover they had with the work I was completing, but it has been interesting practicing my Bahasa Indonesia in a digital context and learning how the work environment in Indonesia has changed because of COVID-19.

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

At InClover, I learnt how to rewrite press releases to make them more engaging for publication and how to work efficiently and independently as I tried to complete any assigned tasks within 24 hours. I also learnt how to take initiative when proposing article ideas and to not be afraid about diversifying my placement experience, like asking if there were any virtual events I could attend or seeing if I could interview a person of interest to an article I pitched.

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

Surprisingly, I was able to learn a lot about Indonesian culture from the program! The JPP academic program officer and program assistant did an awesome job of playing Indonesian songs and organising sing-alongs during our tutorials and seminars, sharing pictures and videos of Bali and Jakarta, explaining Bahasa Indonesia phrases to us and telling us some interesting facts about Indonesia so it felt like I were there. The film screenings and Q&As also helped me see different sides to Indonesia that I would never have thought to look or see.

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

I think the knowledge I have gained about Indonesian current affairs, the cross-cultural language skills and the Indonesian contacts I have developed because of the ACICIS JPP will definitely help me enter the Indonesian and south-east Asian media landscape once I graduate. But even if I do not end up working abroad, I think the transferable skills I acquired – working in a diverse work environment, reporting remotely and independently –   will be useful in any media and communications role, anywhere in the world.

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

Most definitely! With ACICIS JPP, you get to develop your Indonesian contacts and knowledge of the region which is incredibly beneficial for anyone interested in working in Indonesia and/or south-east Asia’s media industry.

Q: Favourite Indonesian word/phrase: 

Probably ‘tidur ayam’. I believe it literally means ‘sleeping chicken’ but in English, it would more closely mean ‘to doze off’. I did not doze off at any point in the ACICIS JPP but it was another little piece of knowledge that I gained from the program.

Q: Describe your experience of this program in three words: 

  1. Insightful
  2. Valuable
  3. Inspiring