Alice Bertram was a participant in the 2022 Virtual Agriculture Professional Practicum. Alice is a Bachelor of Agriculture student from The University of Melbourne. Alice 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?
I first learnt about the ACICIS program two years ago when it was still in person, and you got to travel to Indonesia. Although it was disappointing learning it was going to be online, I still decided to undertake the program because of the availability to cross off two subjects for the year and gain valuable knowledge and connections. I have had previous experiences learning in Indonesia and they were amazing, it gave me good hope that the ACICIS program would be similar and would build on the knowledge that I already had.
Q: Did you receive a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant? Do you think the NCP is an important initiative?
I was lucky enough to receive the New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant, which is a very important initiative. It made attending the program much more financially viable and was one of the reasons I applied for ACICIS, as it helped cover a relatively expensive virtual program. It also provided me with a valuable cultural awareness course, that really prepared me for interacting with people from different backgrounds.
Q: How have you found the academic components of this virtual program?
The academic components of the virtual program were diverse and interesting. The language classes were a perfect size and the right level of difficulty, I learnt a lot and was also in a supportive environment where it was okay to make mistakes and learn from them. Some seminars were slower than others, but the topics were great, and you really learnt a lot about Indonesian specific scenarios.
Q: Which organisation did you intern with?
I was very blessed to intern with the Environment Institute, which is a company dedicated to spreading awareness about sustainability and environmental protection in Indonesia. My role was to produce different forms of media to raise attention about environmental or social issues. This included creating Instagram posts, writing articles, creating a short video and being a key speaker at a webinar about the “Infodemic”.
Q: How have you found the work culture (albeit online) of your host organisation? How is it different to work experience in Australia?
I was incredibly lucky with my placement. My mentor Pak Fajar was kind, open and knowledgeable, we had no issues working with him or with the Environment Institute. Due to being young, I have only ever had casual retail jobs. It was very interesting learning what a workplace was like, especially in Indonesia. They were always very relaxed and flexible, I always felt very comfortable working there. There were a lot less hours of work required of me than I was originally expecting, but it did not feel too easy or boring, it was the perfect workload.
Q: What are the main skills you have learnt during your virtual internship?
I learnt how to create informative Instagram posts that were captivating while also being easy to read for someone whose first language was not English. I was also required to write two articles, which put my very rusty journalism skills to the test. I also learnt not to overthink my work and be more open to feedback. It was also great learning different cultural and lifestyle things from Pak Fajar and sharing what life was like in Australia.
Q: What did you find to be the most rewarding part of this virtual experience?
I really enjoyed the language classes and the tutorials. This was because not only were they are really interesting, and I would always leave feeling like I had learnt a lot but it was one of the best ways to make friends with the other students in my practicum. Having programs run over Zoom always poses challenges but it is great when you still manage to make friends.
The virtual field trips were also very eye-opening and gave us a glimpse of what the program would have been like in a world not impacted by covid. We got to see new practices and visualise them easily through the tours. The hosts were always great during the field trips and very excited about what they had to share.
Q: Were you able to learn about the Indonesian culture from this virtual program?
I learned a lot about Indonesian culture over the 6 weeks in many different forms. I had a fun time learning how to create Batik designs, it was very well taught and very informative. I loved learning about the different colours and patterns, what they meant based on the region. We also got to learn a lot about Indonesia’s culture through speaking to the teachers, my mentor, and the lecturers. Sharing and comparing our cultures was always fascinating and helped us understand our differences and similarities better.
Q: How will the virtual internship benefit or influence your future career?
The amount of experience, knowledge, and contacts that I gained during the program was incredible and has really given me many advantages heading into the workforce. Not only do I have internship experience, but I have a basic understanding of the Indonesian language and what agriculture in Indonesia looks like, creating job opportunities not only in Australia but in Indonesia as well.
Q. Would you recommend this virtual program to your friends?
The ACICIS virtual program really provides you with a leg up entering the next year of university and an advantage when going into the workforce.
Q. Favourite Indonesian word/phrase:
Saya berjalan kaki dengan anjing!
Q. Describe your experience of the virtual internship program in three words:
Educational, eye-opening, and exciting