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Journalism Professional Practicum

Rosie Hughes was a participant in the 2024 Journalism Professional Practicum. Rosie is studying a Bachelor of Arts/Advanced Studies (Media and Communications) at The University of Sydney. Rosie received a $4,000 New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant to support her participation in this program.

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

I applied for the ACICIS program because I love overseas travel and knew next to nothing about Jakarta! It generally gets a bad rap in mainstream media, but I soon discovered that Jakarta is a very misunderstood city, with sprawling cultural diversity, incredible people and of course a rich cuisine!

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, I received a NCP Grant. I think it’s a really important initiative, given that without it I would not have considered this placement. NCP Grants encourage students from all around Australia – urban and rural alike – to consider overseas opportunities. It was for this reason that I made so many interstate friends and could comfortably enjoy the program without stressing as much about money.

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

I stayed in a Kos with three other journalism students. I definitely agree with the program advice that prospective students should organise accommodation upon arriving in Jakarta. It is really difficult to gauge the right accommodation for you based on website photos and reviews alone. It was also great to organise accommodation with students I met in the first week of the program – we each had a private room but shared facilities like a kitchen and balcony. At the end of the work day, it was so nice to hang
out with the other journalism girls, unpack our day and have a social outlet.

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

The academic components of the program were jam-packed and really well-organised. The seminars provided a foundational and diverse introduction to the Indonesian media landscape. Without these lessons, I would have felt poorly-equipped to launch into a foreign workplace straightaway. On top of that, the language lessons were so helpful. Expect a big mental load – four hours straight of intensive language classes is no easy feat. But to be able to actually speak in country, whether just ordering food
or paying for public transport, was deeply rewarding.

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

I interned at Amnesty International Indonesia under the media branch. I was introduced to all components of the organisation with specialised one-on-one sessions, which provided me a holistic insight into the NGO. My main task was to draft an Op-Ed article on freedom of expression for journalists in Indonesia. This was particularly topical against the context of the impending national election. Another task I undertook was scanning international media organisations for outputs on human rights abuses, which I summarised for my supervisor. Since Amnesty Indonesia is not specifically a media organisation, I was primarily there to gain a general perspective, rather than a technical understanding of media outputs.

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

The work culture was far more casual and friendly than what I have in Australia. There were countless opportunities for social chats, in-depth political conversations and free tastings of the local food. Counterintuitively, I felt more at ease in this foreign workplace than I have in highly-structured Australian workplaces. However, I would advise prospective students to expect the unexpected – I spent quite a bit of time unsure of how to fill the day. Ultimately, I learnt to relax into a slow-paced work day and enjoy soaking up the social environment, rather than following a strictly-regimented schedule.

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

I think patience is a highly valuable skill that I practised – Indonesia has a far more relaxed way of life that can seem at odds with Australian hussle culture. I refined my patience, initiative-taking and proactivity skills to make the most of my internship. For example, on a work-from-home day, I had a fair bit of idle time. In response to this, I reached out to last year’s student intern at Amnesty Indonesia to hear from her perspective. This video chat was really valuable and I would highly recommend taking initiative like this!

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

So many weekend trips! The week days were honesty preoccupied with rest and relaxation, given that the 9-5 workday in a foreign environment can definitely take a toll. It was super helpful to impose some routine – I signed up for a local gym where I went to morning zumba classes. On the weekends, I visited Bandung, Bogor and a glamping nature retreat with fellow student interns. I really recommend seizing this time to explore more of Java, because it is a truly beautiful and under-traveled island.

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

I was most surprised by how safe and relaxed I felt – not once did I feel overwhelmed from the new environment. Everyone is so friendly and willing to help out tourists, so I would really recommend just engaging in as many casual conversations as possible to seek advice and learn about in-country life. Whether it was the coworkers, mt Grab driver, or gym instructor, I have come away with so many new friendships with whom I will have to reconnect!

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

The most rewarding aspect of the ACICIS program was honestly the self-guided learning for me! The ACICIS program provides the foundational support for young people to explore and gain independent travel skills. By providing accommodation advice, encouraging weekend trips and hosting regular check-ins with our academic advisors, I felt like I had all the base support mechanisms to travel comfortably as a young adult.

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

Yes – as I mentioned, casual conversations with students, service workers and program staff was the best way to glean personal insights into Indonesian culture. Even seemingly mundane observations, like how the odd/even number plate system works on the road, were fascinating to learn about from a local perspective.

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

The internship has definitely opened my eyes to international work in an NGO. I had never really considered this field, as someone who is primarily trained in journalism. Yet NGOs, like many other organisations, require media outputs to communicate their practical research initiatives. To be able to practise journalism skills in a very altruistic, humanitarianism workplace around likeminded people is greatly appealing.

Q. Would you recommend this program to your friends?

I would recommend this program to friends. I would, however, warn them that the nature of internships are extremely variable. Therefore, they should not expect to have a similar experience to me by any means.

Q. Favourite Indonesian word/phrase:

Sedikit Pedas!