Why did you apply to do the Jakarta Business Internship?
I’ve become increasingly interested in a career overseas, with a focus on business in Asia. I thought that the Jakarta Business Internship would give me insight into transnational business operations and relationships, and a point of differentiation when it comes to interviews and resumes. It would also be an opportunity for me to experience a culture I hadn’t considered in great depth before, and to move outside my comfort zone.
What company and position did you work in? What kinds of projects and tasks did you work on?
I worked at a ‘boutique’ consulting firm called Morelink Asia Pacific. The program I applied for was a group internship program, so our team of five students from Australia and Jakarta was briefed on one major project we would undertake for the three-week term of the internship. The project was centred upon producing a feasibility report to be given to our supervisors at Morelink, as well as to our client, a foreign investor in the dairy industry planning to enter the Indonesian market.
What opportunities did you have to learn about the country and culture?
I applied for the longer four-week Indonesian program, which involved spending one week in the culture-rich city of Yogyakarta before the three-week internship in Jakarta. In both cities, we had ‘buddies’ who were Indonesian university students. Having these buddies enriched our experience significantly, as they gave us a way to connect on a deeper level with the Indonesian people. Our buddies in Yogyakarta led us to temples, introduced us to local foods, spent a night doing karaoke with us and gave us an insight into the culture and people. We still stay in contact months on from the trip. Also in Yogyakarta, we had 6 hours of Bahasa language classes, and although this sounds like a short time, I learned so much, and could use the language to interact with taxi drivers, security staff in our office and store assistants. In Jakarta, our Indonesian buddy was more than happy to introduce us to shops and restaurants after work, and we developed strong bonds with each other by comparing cultures on a daily basis.
What was the best thing about your experience?
I’ll always value how the trip opened my eyes to a foreign country and the ties with the people and culture I developed. Before going on the program, I underestimated how different the way of doing business in Indonesia would be, and expected there to be only minor differences. In reality though, the entire business culture is different, and the legal regulations are spotted with issues I had previously been oblivious to since they are sometimes non-existent in Australia. Yet despite the challenges faced when pursuing business in Indonesia, I was introduced to a country determined on becoming developed in the very near future, and a population with an optimistic, intriguing approach to business and life in general. I wouldn’t hesitate to have the experience again in a country that I hadn’t considered greatly even one year ago, but feel so deeply connected to now.
How has this experience helped you in finding / preparing for a career path?
After completing the program, I’ve swerved towards pursuing a career in Asia, or working in an Asian multinational company. Talking about overseas work experience is a point of differentiation in interviews, and I feel far more prepared and comfortable working in a corporate environment, which I had not had extensive contact with prior to doing the program.
Would you recommend this experience to students?
I would absolutely recommend this experience to students. Whether you are interested in working in Asia or not, by the end of the program, I felt I had matured and established new connections and skills that I find myself constantly applying in work and study.
To make the most of an experience like this, always have an open mind and be ready to adapt. Having cultural understanding and empathy was so important in letting me develop relationships with professionals and with regular Indonesian people, which enhanced my experience greatly. Understand that the culture is different, and sometimes, the way in which other cultures work might be frustrating or overwhelming, but if you can embrace these differences, people are far more open to developing a relationship with you and will go out of their way to help.