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Journalism Professional Practicum

Zak Malcolm Wheeler was a participant in the 2023 Journalism Professional Practicum. Zak is studying a Bachelor of Communications (Journalism) at RMIT University. He received a $3,000 New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant to support his participation in this program.

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

As a student slugging through Covid/online learning, ACICIS provided me a fantastic opportunity to cram about three years into 6 weeks. I’ve lived a lifetime in Indonesia!

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.

Well, you see… As a university student… I am in financial ruins, so every scrap of help I can nab is fundamental to the success of this voyage. I feel blessed & honoured to receive the opportunity to have the burden lifted off of these fragile shoulders.

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

I lived in LeGreen Kuningan (student accomodation)- & trust me if you will: you can find better, although this place ain’t bad! I’d just recommend without hesitation to make friends fast & book a place to stay with them after the first two weeks because friendship is precious & fleeting!

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

The academic portions of this program are intensely useful, & rather lenient with learning capabilities. Seminars are interesting while language lessons teach you the basics of getting by!

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

I was interning with Radio Republic Indonesia – but specifically their Voice of Indonesia in their Voidcast department! What we did was create a whole bunch of social media content for the brand from the perspective of some bules who were experiencing Indonesia for the first time. We basically sold Indonesia to those who weren’t sold yet!

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

Well it was a bizarre mix of lax & studious with the expectations high but the publishing of our content low. I couldn’t tell you the amount of shorts & features I made for VOI without ever knowing where they ended up! But the experience I gained through tackling a foreign subject was well worth the confusion.

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

I learned mainly the extra-communication techniques of a person living abroad, experiencing a different culture & being able to fit in amongst it. This was developed through the people I associated with & the differences in preference between me & the host organisation.

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

The most rewarding part of this experience was the connections made along the way. My mentors can’t wait until I return to Indonesia & it is a genuine goal of mine – but unfortunately my finances are destroyed post-trip! & that’s not because Indonesia is a hard place to live financially, it’s actually quite easy! I’m just terrible with money.

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

Yeah absolutely – this mainly came through the first two weeks of intensive learning at the university which was amazing. That was the time to make friends, learn where you were, & take the time to really appreciate your surroundings before the work kicks in wit the placement in the last four weeks!

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

The internship will influence m going forward mainly due to the broadening of my mind & the widening of horizons that Jakarta has introduced me to. Some people have predisposed opinions of foreign cities like JKT, & I’ve found they’re often wrong. Maybe that’s an added benefit of this internship: a healthy level of doubt in the opinions of others!

Q. Would you recommend this program to your friends?

Honestly I already have! It’s a little bit of a commitment for broke kids from the heart of Melbourne- but worst comes to worst it’s worth the loan & everyone from the 2023 intake agrees with this sentiment!

Q. Favourite Indonesian word/phrase:

Mungkin Nanti (I think that’s how you spell it!) – Maybe later!