Development Studies Professional Practicum

Mary Salazar was a participant in the 2023 Development Studies Professional Practicum from RMIT University. Mary is studying School of Property, Construction and Project Management.

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

I’ve always been interested in working overseas so seeing that ACICIS connected students with an organization in Indonesia for placement, I couldn’t pass up the chance to participate!

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.

No I didn’t receive NCP but I did receive a scholarship from my home university.

Though I know many of my peers in the program received it and it was helpful to them! Definitely a great initiative to increase cultural awareness and respect for our Indo-Pacific neighbours.

Q: Where did you live in Indonesia (Kos, homestay, hotel, rental etc.)? Any tips for prospective students on finding accommodation?

I stayed in a know kos for the first 2 weeks which was very affordable then an apartment from Airbnb.

My advice is think about what is most important to you: is it being close to your host organisation, being close to where food and shops are or cultural immersion? Once you’ve decided you can choose what type of accommodation will best suit what type of experience you want.

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

Language classes were great, depending on how deeply you immerse yourself in them you will gain basic skills that will help you in everyday conversation. As for the seminars, these were very complementary to the practicum experience and in general as we got to know about different aspects of Indonesia such as tourism, education/employment, community development and the legal system.

Q: What organisation are you interning with? (Explain your role and responsibilities)

I interned for Habitat for Humanity Indonesia. My first couple of weeks with habitat we visited a local community to help facilitate a safe shelter awareness program. It was an insightful experience working closely with a community, even with the language barrier it was good to observe. I did a combination of research and writing to make recommendations to Habitat to further their safe shelter program, and at the end of our internship presented my findings to my mentors and even the national director which was a nerve-wracking but immensely educational and a formative experience in my professional career.

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

I found the work culture of Habitat for Humanity quiet laid-back, they’re were welcoming and helpful and at time it felt more like a family! The staff were very devoted to their work and their sense of purpose which was truly inspiring. Compared to working in Australia it felt much more intimate.

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

My intercultural awareness definitely improved and my interpersonal skills was challenged working with a language barrier.

Q: What did you find to be the most rewarding part of this experience?

Being able to network overseas is such a privilege and huge advantage, while also making friends with other Australian students who are who are going through the same experience.

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

Yes, undoubtedly! Speaking with locals and learning Bahasa was a huge advantage in getting to know and understanding local and national culture.

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

My host organization is a global organization and will definitely be useful for attracting future international employers. Again, networking was a huge part of the experience and talking to locals and professionals who work in the sector was definitely an advantage to the sector that I want that in.

Q: Would you recommend this program to your friends?

Yes I would definitely recommend this program to my friends and peers. It is such a unique experience that allows you to connect with credible Indonesian organizations that may be difficult for you to otherwise network with.

Q: Favourite Indonesian word/phrase:

Membosankan – fun to say which is ironic given it’s meaning (also an inside joke with a friend) and Kenyang – which I always was because of the amazing local food!