New Colombo Plan - Connect to Australia’s future - study in the region.

Development Studies Professional Practicum

Mathew O’Brien was a participant in the 2024 Development Studies Professional Practicum. Mathew is studying Bachelor of International Development at The University of Adelaide. Mathew received a $4000 New Colombo Plan mobility grant to support his participation on this program.

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

I undertook the ACICIS Internship program because I had an interest in Indonesia and wanted in-country experience and to build connections.

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.

Yes, the NCP helped pay for my flights and a portion of the Tuition fees to the DSPP.

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

I stayed in LeGreen Sudirman. Tips: Make sure your room is well ventilated as you generally will only be using it to sleep as you will be outside all the time. Also wash your clothes regularly!

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

Although 6 days a week were a little bit intense, I do wish the language seminars went a week longer as I felt like I was getting the hang of it all in the last week.

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

I was with NIRAS. I assisted in helping with a Scoping report regarding a potential Blue Carbon and climate change transition project. I also updated reference documents and composed the wording for an Indonesia In-country portfolio for past and ongoing projects.

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

I really enjoyed the work culture in Indonesia. I love the idea of having lunch with workmates together and eating at local food vendors outside the office. I also loved the sustainable approach of keeping your lunchbox in the office to be filled with food during lunchtime and cleaned up afterwards.

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

I learned the importance of communication and collaboration. Project management is people management and we are only as strong as the energy and connection behind the collaboration between various stakeholders.

Q: What did you get up to in your free-time? i.e. in the evenings and on weekends.

I hung out with friends, ate heaps of food, drank lots of coffee, went to church and ran at Car Free Day every Sunday hah.

Q: What surprised you about Indonesia? Any new insights?

I was surprised by how friendly people were. From Grab drivers to shop vendors to uni students, everybody was very kind. (Also I was surprised by how good the coffee is as good if not better than Australia’s!)

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

I found the friendships and connections were the most rewarding. Definitely will be back to Jakarta again!

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

I love the emphasis on religion and family values in Indonesia. This was understood through regular chats and building friendships, I connect with this greatly.

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

This internship will benefit my career through the connections that have been built but also the lessons learned in collaboration, and understanding the challenges of project management in private sector International Development.

Q: Would you recommend this program to your friends?


Q: Favourite Indonesian word/phrase:

Selemat Sore Ibu, tolong aku mau satu bakmi ayam dengan sambal hijau (aku suka makan pedas), juga
mau satu durian kocok ya.