Gaining a global perspective: Mariam’s story

Mariam Jaber, Bachelor of Commerce/LLB 
Participant in the Global Business Practicum Jakarta, January 2019 

What was the highlight of the Global Business Practicum Jakarta?

The GBP program was a program that provided great insight into what it's like to do business in an international setting.

A definite highlight for the program was getting to do grounding, forward-thinking work during the internship. The practicum places you outside your comfort zone and allows you to implement the skills you’ve developed throughout your coursework to real issues a firm may be facing. Each team was allocated a real project where they had to conduct market research and valuations to determine practical and viable methods for their host company. This was an incredibly unique and invaluable experience for many of us in the practicum. The experience was able to simulate real challenges found in the workspace and helped us begin to realise and develop important business skills required in the workforce.

What skills did you improve or knowledge did you acquire during the experience?

The practicum definitely exposes you to real life problems which despite testing at times, helps you learn and develop different ways to manage them. As they say, no learning is more grounding than the one lived.

One thing I definitely came to appreciate during the practicum was how to work within a team. As individuals, we all have different working methods and ways in which we communicate and learn. Being able to work with a new group of people who shared different communication styles and cultures definitely allowed me to gain perspective as to how I worked within a team and how I could grow to improve within group settings.

I also learned a lot about myself in terms of my strengths, what I needed to help me work best under pressure and a greater understanding of how culture impacts business acumen. Did you feel well-supported throughout the program?

One of the best things about this practicum was the genuine support ingrained throughout the whole experience.

The course conveners and staff both locally, and with you during the practicum are incredibly warm, responsive and supportive throughout your stay and pre-departure. During my stay, I knew that they were always available and were able to give us the right tools and advice to navigate through any problems that arose. We knew without a doubt, if we required anything, whether it was a chat about our host company or a simple personal matter, that our help was only an email/text away which was both comforting, and made the whole experience so much easier to navigate.

We were also supported within the group itself. During this experience, I was able to establish a great group of friends who were always there for me during the practicum. They were not only there to help out when things went wrong, but made sure that I was able to have a lot of fun during my stay.

Was it scary to live overseas? Did you experience culture shock? Did you experience any challenges in communicating with Indonesians?

Initially, it was a little bit daunting trying to settle into a new place where there was both an apparent language and culture barrier.

I wasn’t accustomed to the norms and practices there, and at times, this was difficult to recognise and reconcile. However, during the practicum, you will grow to learn that everyone in Indonesia is very friendly and more than happy to go above and beyond to help you out if you just ask. Language became less and less of a barrier as days passed and technology definitely helped out in that respect (download GoJek and Grab once you’re there!). Overall, I was able to grow to appreciate the different norms and practices I was able to experience in Jakarta, as it was these things that really made it special.

What was the project you worked on? Was this related to your Business major? If not, how did you feel about working on a project unrelated to your major? During my stay in Indonesia, I was assigned to a newly formed subsidiary within a conglomerate. The project my team and I were assigned looked at potential avenues to grow within the fisheries and derivative industry. As part of our work, we had to conduct extensive market research to determine the viability of entering into this market, which opportunity was best to pursue within the market space, and what was required to execute the business strategy. From this, my team and I were able to build a business proposal and plan and estimate the net projected value of the company entering the industry.

Before this instance, I didn’t have a lot of experience with valuations and calculating growth projections for a firm. However, during the practicum, I was able to learn a lot outside of the knowledge I had built up during my coursework which demonstrated to me the different skills I will be able to learn outside of my degree once I hit the workforce. Has this course provided insight into future career options?

I’ve always known that I would like to work internationally, and this experience has helped me affirm this.

I have come to appreciate the difficulty that comes with living abroad, including language barriers, and navigating my way through the nuances and norms of a different culture. I have also learned a lot about myself and how I fit into a business setting away from home. I have learned to apply everything I know but also be receptive and willing to listen, observe and learn. It has allowed me to determine how I work best and what I may need to be the best version of myself within a business setting.

What would you tell a student who is hesitant to apply?

Easy, Apply! This is definitely a limited time offer as the course is a rare and unique opportunity for you to get experience in an international setting on a real project for a firm/company.

Not only is this the case, but you are able to knock out a course whilst building meaningful networks with a group of people you will undoubtedly have a lot of fun with! If that isn’t enough to make you hit submit, don’t forget that this program is supported through New Colombo, which means that you may qualify for a grant to be financially supported throughout your trip. Why are you still here? Go go go!