Kate Newsome was a participant in the 2023 Journalism Professional Practicum. Kate is studying a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Advanced Studies (Media and Communications) at The University of Sydney. 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 internship program?
Starting my media and communications degree the same year COVID hit, it’s been challenging to gain practical experience in journalism and I’d all but given up on the idea of doing an exchange trip but this program perfectly fit what I wanted out of an internship/study abroad experience.
Q: Did you receive a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant? Do you think the NCP is an important initiative? If yes, why? The NCP is a signature initiative of the Australian Government which aims to lift knowledge of the Indo-Pacific in Australia by supporting Australian undergraduates on experiences such as the Professional Practica.
The only hesitation I ever had with the program was cost but receiving a New Colombo Plan (NCP) Mobility Grant took that weight off my shoulders. I could always appreciate the purpose of NCP in building relationships and mutual understanding between Australia and the greater Indo-Pacific. But beyond the buzzwords, having the chance to participate in this program has made it a lot more personal. The possibility of returning to Indonesia in the future not only feels more feasible but is something I would really love to work towards.
Q: Where did you live in Indonesia (Kos, homestay, hotel, rental etc.)? Any tips for prospective students on finding accommodation?
I lived in a Kos just around the corner from my office. I’d recommend visiting beforehand to make sure your place has all the basics and feels right for you. Enjoy getting to know the area around where you’re living but remember that it’s just a base.
Q: How have you found the academic components of this program – i.e. the language classes/seminars?
I had never learnt a language before taking the Indonesian classes, but I was quickly put at ease by the amazing teachers at Atma Jaya. The pace was perfect and everything was explained very clearly. The seminars were also fantastic and gave us the chance to hear from some amazing people in the industry and speak with them one-on-one.
Q: What organisation are you interning with? (Explain your role and responsibilities)
I was lucky enough to be interning at The Jakarta Post. The placement was super flexible, and we were able to spend time will lots of different teams in the newsroom — from production to the features, general news and check desks. Over the month, I shadowed various reporters out in the field and was also able to work on my own stories for publication.
Q: How have you found the work culture of your host organisation? How is it different to work experience in Australia?
Most of my previous experiences in Australian newsrooms were heavily impacted by COVID, with many reporters still working remotely. But during my time at the Jakarta Post, I was able to witness a steady shift back to working in-person and I really loved getting to know everyone. They were all so welcoming and generous in taking the time to show me the ropes of working at the paper and living in Jakarta!
Q: What are the main skills you have learnt during your internship?
During my internship, I got to be involved in all stages of the newspaper production process, from interviewing and photography out in the field to writing and copyediting. I was even able to see the paper being printed in the early hours of the morning (it was just like the movies). Over the four weeks, I had to work independently and adapt to a different cultural environment and ways of communicating.
Q: What did you find to be the most rewarding part of this experience?
The whole experience of living and working in a new country felt so empowering and I certainly feel like it has given me a broader perspective. Although my time in Jakarta was brief, it has been so rewarding to build up such strong connections to the city and its people, to learn from them and hear their stories.
Q. Were you able to learn about the Indonesian culture from this program? If yes, how was this achieved?
I didn’t know much about the cultural nuances and politics of Indonesia before coming over, but I’ve learnt so much by spending time with the locals — you really can’t get the true experience and insight into Indonesian culture any other way. And by culture, I specifically mean food. Try all the food.
Q. How will the internship benefit or influence your future career?
Being a country kid, I’d always dreamt of working overseas and learning more about what’s outside of what I’ve grown up with in Australia. That is, of course, easier said than done but having this opportunity has brought it within my reach. It has made the world feel so much more open to explore.
Q. Would you recommend this program to your friends?
It is difficult to express just what is there to be gained from this experience. I really would encourage anyone who can to give it a go. It’s there for the taking and everything that you would hope for and so, so much more.
Q. Favourite Indonesian word/phrase:
“kura-kura dalam perahu” — Turtle in a boat. What you tell someone not to be when they’re feigning ignorance.