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Tempat Diskusi dan Sumber Informasi Aplikasi dan Beasiswa Pendidikan Luar Negeri
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    Kuliah di luar negeri dengan beasiswa penuh merupakan impian banyak orang. Banyak orang rela untuk berjuang dan bertahan dengan sekuat tenaga untuk mencapai impian tersebut. Pada artikel ini, kontributor Zainul Yasni akan membagikan kisah perjuangannya untuk mengejar impian kuliah S2 dan S3 di luar negeri dengan beasiswa penuh. Berikut kisahnya

    ***

    Pertengahan tahun 2013, saya baru diwisuda S1 di Sekolah Tinggi Keguruan swasta di daerah, di pulau Lombok NTB. Waktu itu, saya dihadapkan dengan beberapa pilihan. Antara lamar kerja, menikah, atau lanjut kuliah?

    Mau melamar kerja? Bermodalkan ijazah S1 keguruan, pikirku waktu itu paling mentok bisa jadi guru honorer di sekolah-sekolah di kampungku seperti halnya para pendahuluku. Mau menikah? Rasa-rasanya cukup berat karena belum ada penghasilan yang tetap. Parahnya lagi, calonnya juga keburu mutusin duluan sejak sekripsian. Mau lanjut kuliah? Pengen banget sih, tapi gak mau lagi repotin orang tua dengan biaya kuliah. Udah cukup ngerepotinnya ketika S1 saja.

    So What?

    Dilema sekali waktu itu, galau betul. Minta uang jajan udah malu banget sama orang tua. Mungkin ini menjadi titik ‘quarter life crisis’ saya sebagai anak usia 20an tahun. Saya akhirnya ngebayangin untuk dalam waktu dekat ini, bagaimana caranya bisa lanjut kuliah dulu, tapi gratis dan malah dikasih uang jajan.

    Ya satu-satunya jalan adalah lewat jalur Beasiswa.

    Foto penulis ketika wisuda di Queen's University Belfast pada tahun 2016
    Foto penulis ketika wisuda di Queen’s University Belfast pada tahun 2016

    But How?

    Saya coba browsing di google melalui warnet samping kampusku. Selain itu, saya rajin hadir di expo pameran beasiswa. Cari tahu peluang beasiswa apa saja yang ada tahun itu. Semua informasi beasiswa yang saya temukan, saya catat lengkap dengan semua persyaratannya serta masa penutupan pendaftarannya. Saya checklist persyaratan apa yang bisa penuhi, dan syarat mana yang belum bisa saya penuhi. Lalu, saya kasih catatan atau keterangan bagaimana cara memenuhinya.

    It’s not that easy. Satu tahun saya berjuang keras, mendaftar dari semua peluang beasiswa yang terbuka. Gagal terus, ditolak terus. Saya stress dan tertekan sekali. Kala itu kebetulan sedang merantau ke Jawa Timur sambil belajar Bahasa Inggris di Kampung Inggris, Pare, Kediri. Malu dan dilema sekali. Balik kampung sudah tak mungkin lagi. Sekali layar terkembang, pantang surut ke belakang.

    Tiap malam saya tidur di masjid samping kursusan. Menangis, memohon, dan berdoa sama Tuhan. Saya sudah berusaha semampuku. Mencoba yang kubisa, bekerjakeras, berusaha keras, belajar dengan keras, dan berdoa lebih keras. Selanjutnya tinggal bertahan. Sekuat apa bisa bertahan pada impian. Impian yang entah kapan jadi kenyataan dan bagaimana bisa terwujud. Bermimpi itu memang mudah, tapi bertahan pada impian itu yang sulit. Gak gampang memang. Butuh keyakinan dan kesabaran.

    Menyerah? Sepertinya tanggung banget. Sudah ditengah jalan. Sayang kalau pulang di tengah perjuangan. Tak ada pilihan lain. Bangkit, mencoba dan berusaha lebih keras. Mendaftar lagi ke beberapa beasiswa yang sedang terbuka.

    Long story short, pertengahan tahun 2014, Tuhan akhirnya memberikan hadiah-Nya. Membayar semua usaha dan kerjakeras yang pernah ada. Saya berhasil mendapatkan Beasiswa S2 Luar Negeri dari LPDP RI. Berangkat studi tahun 2015 dan setahun selesai studi S2 tahun 2016. Saya mengambil jurusan Educational Leadership di Queen’s University Belfast, United Kingdom (UK).

    Foto penulis di depan kampus Monash University pada tahun 2019
    Foto penulis di depan kampus Monash University pada tahun 2019

    So what’s next?

    Kerja? Awal tahun 2017, saya direkrut kerja sebagai seorang Dosen Tetap di Universitas Hamzanwadi, kampus swasta terbesar dan terbaik di Nusa Tenggara Barat. Menikah? Awal tahun 2018, saya akhirnya melamar Raania Amaani, seorang mahasiswi Kedokteran Universitas Indonesia di Jakarta. Ia adalah wanita terbaik pilihan Tuhan. Lanjut kuliah lagi? Boleh juga, setidaknya saya sudah sedikit tau cara mengejar beasiswa. Tahun 2019 ini, alhamdulillah saya kembali dianugerahkan hadiah oleh Tuhan, lanjut kuliah S3 dengan beasiswa penuh di salah satu kampus terbaik di Australia, Monash University. Saya meneliti bidang yang sama dengan studi saya sebelumnya tentang Educational Leadership.

    Kegalauan, dilema, dan tangisan yang dulu ada, alhamdulillah kini berganti menjadi senyuman bahagia. Terbalas dengan hasil yang melebihi harapan. Ternyata, semua hanya tentang sekuat apa kita bertahan dari keadaan. Selanjutnya urusan Tuhan yang akan menganugerahkan. Ikhlas menjalani prosesnya, lalu pasrahkan. Saya tau, tiap-tiap kita memiliki nasib dan takdir yang berbeda-beda, dan tidak perlu dibanding-bandingkan. Tapi, saya meyakini bahwa apapun yang sedang kita usahakan, akan kita petik hasilnya selama kita bertahan untuk memperjuangkannya. Enggak gampang menyerah. Karena, kesuksesan itu tidak selamanya tentang kehebatan, kelebihan-kelebihan diri, tapi juga tentang kekuatan bertahan di atas panggung perjuangan impian. Cepat atau lambat, kita pasti sampai pada titik tujuan. Tak peduli seberapa kali kita terjatuh dan gagal, teruslah bangkit lagi. Tak peduli seberapa banyak pintu kesempatan yang tertutup, teruslah untuk mengetuk kembali. Dan yakinlah ketika satu pintu telah terbuka, insyaAllah, pintu-pintu lain akan dibukakan juga. Lalu, nikmat Tuhan yang mana lagi yang hendak kau dustakan? Alhamdulillah!

    ***

    Sumber Foto: Zainul Yasni, M.Sc.



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    International student conferences can be a great opportunity for students in Indonesia to get a taste of international experience. Not only that you could travel abroad, but you would also get the opportunity to connect and exchange thoughts with students from other countries, as well as enrich your knowledge and experience on the conference topic. Here, Indonesia Mengglobal Contributor Angel Jauhari shares her experience in applying to, preparing for, and participating in an international student conference in Tokyo, Japan.

    ***

    Have you ever wondered how you can participate in an international student conference? Here, I’m going to share some information about Japan International Student Conference (JAPAN ISC) and my journey on finding the opportunity, passing the selection process, getting funding for my flight, and also presenting at the conference!

    I participated in JAPAN ISC in August-September 2019. As a student, I would say that my experience in ISC has helped me gain a deeper understanding about my study, while making me fall in love with Japan at the same time. 

    About JAPAN ISC

    JAPAN ISC is an annual event held by the International Student Association (ISA) in Japan, a youth organization which conducts several international programs (you can find more information about ISA here). The event took place in Tokyo and this year, it was held for the 65th time with “Embrace Diversity as Youth of Today and Driving Forces of Tomorrow” as its main theme. This theme was further divided into 6 different topics. The output of the conference is a final group proposal that was submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. The presentation day, we call it the “Final Forum”, was held in the beginning of September with relevant stakeholders coming as the panelists.

    Where I Started

    1. Finding the Information

    Here are some tips for you to attain information about foreign conferences:

    • The International Office (IO) of your college: I think they are the first official body who you can ask. They usually provide the printed brochure of the schedule, along with the online one. Aside from that, the student association in your faculty would also help to forward the information coming from the IO. Relevant social media accounts might be helpful too! For example, Comm Student Info is an open-for-public official LINE account containing information about conferences, competitions, and internship opportunities especially for social studies students.
    • Foreign Embassies: I subscribe to the mailing lists, Instagram and Twitter accounts of foreign countries’ embassies. It’s also interesting to know that their ambassadors are implementing unique ways of digital diplomacy. They do not only share you some attractive opportunities, but also respond to your comments!
    • Related independently-run organizations, like Indonesia Mengglobal! I like this type of source the most, because they give me a more personal story rather than a general information only. These stories are advantageous to help you figure out what a foreign country feels like, and what tips you can do when you get there.

    2. Selection Process

    I found out about JAPAN ISC from Universitas Indonesia’s International Office. Coincidentally, there were some of my seniors who participated in JAPAN ISC as well. After asking them for some tips, I enrolled myself and promised to share the same tips someday (so here I am!).

    There were 2 selection phases: written and spoken tests. The written one consisted of several questions that you should answer related to your chosen topic. The later one is an interview involving your Table Chief and Sub-Table Chief. The Table Chief is the Head of your topic, while Sub-Table Chief is the Vice Head. Here are some tips:

    • When it comes to substantive questions, try to elaborate concrete examples related to your chosen topic. For example, when I chose the topic of Freedom of Speech in this conference, I wrote about the harm of UU ITE in Indonesia with the specific case study of Baiq Nuril. I explained how articles can be misused by people to persecute others, especially women. Thus, the Freedom of Speech may be limited by that case. Elaborating a case study is fundamental since when you get to meet other fellow delegates, they will ask you a lot about what happens in your country.
    • When it’s about personal questions, be specific on what makes you passionate about the conference. Is it because you want to go abroad for the first time? Or you want to pursue a master’s degree that’s related to the conference topic? Write it all down! Be passionate, be on fire.

    Find the Funding

    In March 2019, I got an email that stated my successful application as an ISC official delegate! Now, what? Well, some conferences are fully-funded, but some are not. ISC just opened a partial scholarship this year. However, I was not one of the awardees. It’s okay! I found some alternatives, such as but not limited to:

    • Your University and/or Faculty: The amount of funding varies according to each university, but I was able to earn enough to pay for my flight to Japan. Usually, we are required to make a proposal on our event, and attach some official documents. Personally, it was not that hard to propose some funding to my university as long as the proposal is clear. Other tips: make it solid, simple, and selling. Spare some time to practice presenting your proposal summary too.
    • Corporate Sponsorship: As for the accommodation, the it costed me about ¥40.000 (around IDR 5,100,000) during my stay in Tokyo, including 3 meals per day. I applied for sponsorship to a multinational company in electronics, LG Indonesia. Tip: Apply around D-45 before the conference so that you have more time to prepare your presentation in front of the donors. Some companies might not consider your proposal if it’s submitted just one month before the conference starts. I suggest you to apply to airlines and travel company too as my conference colleagues got funded from there.  

    Welcome to Tokyo, Japan!

    From March to August 2019, we were assigned many, MANY, team assignments. As we lived in different countries, we prepared our conference materials far before the d-day by having online meetings and submitting our tasks through Google Classroom. One of our assignments was to compare the problems of the press between our home countries. It was intense, and I could not have waited any longer to come to Japan!

    Lunch time in Ginza
    Lunch time in Ginza

    My team consisted of 8 participants from Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Indonesia, India, Japan, and the USA, with the Chiefs from Croatia and Japan. Thanks to those online assignments, we became close far before we met each other. When we arrived in Tokyo, we enjoyed shabu-shabu, shirokuma, and  unique drinks from the infamous Japanese vending machine together. We shared colloquial phrases from our own countries to each other, like “o-genki desu ka?” and “kako si?” to say “how are you?” in Japanese and Croatian. Oh, and did you know that Bulgarians nod when they say “no” and shake face side-to-side to say “yes”? It was so much fun!

    How about the discussions? My first week in Tokyo was full of whole-day discussions. After several days, we had an interim presentation to convey the progress of our proposal. It was always possible to interview more people in Tokyo to enrich the data for the proposal. The proposal needed to include the problem identification, past actions, and our proposed solution. Here is another important stepping stone for me: I overcame my insecurities! I enjoyed the discussion and debates, but in the beginning, it was hard for me to imagine myself speaking in front of the crowd. However, I thought, I have come this far to learn more, gain more, and bring home a great memory. So I gathered all my courage to present the proposal of the team. I went beyond my insecurities.

    Presenting my team’s proposal
    Presenting my team’s proposal

    If it was not because of JAPAN ISC, I would not know how it feels to ride the shinkansen, to experience the sentō communal bath house for the first time in forever, or to call everyone with “-chan” after their nickname to make the discussion feels more relaxed. All in all, I would not be able to redefine myself and be more confident if it’s not because of the courage that I experience since day 1 I got accepted as part of the conference.

    My journey is not over yet. Instead, JAPAN ISC has opened a new path for me to explore. I hope for you too.

    ***

    Photos provided by the author.


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    Siapa yang tidak mengingikan berkerja di negara maju seperti Kanada. Banyak sekali pengalaman yang akan Anda dapat dengan bekerja di negara maju dan merupakan pengalaman yang sangat berharga. Tentunya, hal ini tidaklah mudah untuk dicapai perlu kemauan dan semangat dari diri sendiri untuk bisa meraih kesuksesan di negara orang. Sebagai international student di negara orang atau imigran, tentunya membutuhkan usaha lebih dibanding mereka yang sudah lahir dan tumbuh besar di Kanada. Yuk simak tips and Trik dari mereka student-student dari Indonesia yang sudah berpengalaman dan berhasil mendapatkan pekerjaan di Kanada.

    1. Volunteer 
    Memulai pengalaman kerja dan membangun relasi dari mengikuti volunteer merupakan tahap awal dari perjalanan Anda. (sumber: wastatepta.org)
    Memulai pengalaman kerja dan membangun relasi dari mengikuti volunteer merupakan tahap awal dari perjalanan Anda. (sumber: wastatepta.org)

    Volunteer atau kegiatan bekerja sukarela adalah tahap pertama yang biasanya dilakukan student untuk mendapatkan pengalaman bekerja di Kanada. Kegiatan ini juga memberikan peluang untuk student agar bisa bersosialisasi dengan student dari berbagai negara. Volunteer juga bisa menjadi media student untuk mengetahui lebih dalam bidang apa yang diminati.  Volunteer merupakan salah satu trik untuk mempermudah student untuk mencari perkerjaan di Kanada. Karena dengan menjadi volunteer internasional student akan mendaptkan “Canadian Experience”. Pengalaman selama volunteer inilah yang nanti akan dilihat dan dipertimbangkan oleh employeer Kanada dalam proses seleksi mereka. Karena ketika mencari pekerjaan, employeer akan melihat dan mempertimbangkan “Canadian Experience” dalam proses seleksi mereka. Dengan memperbanyak pengalaman volunteer secara langsung student telah membangun Canadian Experience mereka.

    1. Membangun Relasi dengan Dosen
    MISA Dinner
    Pada saat Management Information System student networking dinner

    Mengapa membangun relasi dengan dosen itu penting? Karena Dosen bisa membantu student dalam membagikan informasi mengenai volunteering dan peluang kerja di kampus. Jadilah student atau mahasiswa yang pro-aktif agar Anda tampil lebih unggul di antara murid-murid yang lain dan menjadi perhatian para Dosen. Jika dosen mengetahui dan mengenal kita lebih dekat, besar kemungkinan kita bisa bekerja dengan dosen tersebut sebagai researcher atau assisten dosen. Hal ini dapat menjadi pengalaman dan point lebih Anda ketika mencari kerja.

    1. Tidak Malu untuk memulai dari Bawah

    Mendapatkan pekerjaan sesuai bidang yang kita minati merupakan impian semua orang. Akan tetapi kita harus mulai dari bawah untuk bisa mencapai sesuatu yang kita inginkan. Sebagai contoh, banyak internasional student yang memulai pengalamanannya dari bekerja part-time di kampus, restorant, perpustakaan, bahkan di supermarket. Sebagai internasional student di Kanada, Anda diperbolehkan untuk bekerja 20 jam per-minggu. Dengan berkerja part-time Anda tidak hanya mendapatkan pengalaman tetapi juga tambahan uang saku.

    1. Membuat resume sesuai standar dan mengikuti mock interview
    Membuat resume dan mengikuti simulasi interview akan sangat membantu Anda untuk mempersiapkan skill dan mental Anda. (sumber : monster.com)
    Membuat resume dan mengikuti simulasi interview akan sangat membantu Anda untuk mempersiapkan skill dan mental Anda. (sumber : monster.com)

    Resume yang Anda pernah buat di Indonesia pasti memiliki standar yang berbeda dengan resume di Kanada. Maka dari itu Anda dianjurkan untuk berkonsultasi dengan Career Advisor untuk membantu Anda dalam proses penyusunan resume, agar resume Anda lebih menonjolkan pengalaman dan kualifikasi yang diperlukan dalam pekerjaan. Anda bisa mengetahui informasi mengenai pekerjaan yang tersedia di market saat ini dan pekerjaan apa yang kira-kira cocok dengan pengalaman Anda dari Carrer Advisor. Selain itu, Anda bisa mengikuti mock interview atau simulasi interview kerja yang akan melatih dan membangun kerpercayaan diri Anda sebelum menghadapi interview saat melamar kerja.

    1. Menghadiri Career Fair
    Hadirilah setiap career fair di daerah Kampus atau kota Anda agar wawasan Anda mengenai kulifikasi di perusahaan yang Anda incar bisa Anda lengkapi. (sumber : glassdoor.com)
    Hadirilah setiap career fair di daerah Kampus atau kota Anda agar wawasan Anda mengenai kulifikasi di perusahaan yang Anda incar bisa Anda lengkapi. (sumber : glassdoor.com)

    Setiap kampus di Kanada biasanya mengelar acara Career Fair dengan mendatangkan beberapa employer atau perusahaan-perusahaan dari berbagai macam industri. Di acara inilah Anda dapat mengetahui pekerjaan yang tersedia atau perusahaan apakah yang sedang menerima pegawai saat itu. Anda dapat menanyakan posisi apa yang sedang tersedia dan menanyakan pula kualifikasi apa yang diperlukan untuk posisi tersebut. Anda juga perlu mencoba untuk mendatangi booth atau perusahaan yang menarik untuk Anda dan mulai menyesuiakan kualifikasi pekerjaan tersebut.

    1. Memperkaya Ilmu dan Pengalaman dengan menghadiri Free Workshop 
    Tambah skill dan ilmu Anda dengan mengikuti workshop-workshop yang diadakan di Kampus (sumber : hail.to)
    Tambah skill dan ilmu Anda dengan mengikuti workshop-workshop yang diadakan di Kampus (sumber : hail.to)

    Di Kanada banyak sekali workshop gratis yang dapat Anda hadiri untuk menambah soft dan hard skill untuk menambah point saat Anda melamar pekerjaan. Workshop ini biasanya diadakan oleh asosisasi-asosiasi atau program-program kuliah di Kampus. Sebagai contoh, jika jurusan yang Anda pilih adalah engineering (Teknik) akan banyak workshop mengenai topik engineering dan bidang-bidang yang berkaitan. Anda juga perlu rajin mencari informasi dari komunitas-komintas dibidang kuliah atau minat Anda.

    Jika Anda tertarik untuk melanjutkan sekolah mulai dari SMA dan Kuliah juga bisa mulai dari belajar Bahasa Inggris di Kanada atau ada program-program lain, Anda bisa mencari info lebih banyak dengan Kami Salak Education Consulting di website www.kuliahkanada.com. Jika Anda ingin berdiskusi lebih lanjut, Anda bisa mengisi informasi Anda disini link : https://mailchi.mp/8c28e57a7794/kuliahdikanada.


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    Pelajar Indonesia di luar negeri pasti pernah dengar tentang Persatuan Pelajar Indonesia (PPI). Mau bergabung atau tidak, itu pilihan masing-masing. Beberapa betul-betul menyukai kegiatan dan organisasi tersebut, sementara yang lainnya lebih memilih skeptis. Kontributor kami, Bisma, bercerita mengapa ia memilih terlibat aktif di PPI Leiden saat ia menempuh studi masternya di Belanda.

    ”Jauh-jauh ke luar negeri buat apa main sama orang Indonesia?”

    Itu adalah salah satu pertanyaan yang paling sering saya dapat selama berkuliah di Belanda. Wajar sih, karena mulai dari sahabat terdekat di kelas sampai teman main sehari-hari saya, semuanya orang Indonesia. Selain itu saya pun cukup aktif di kepengurusan Perhimpunan Pelajar Indonesia di Leiden (“PPI Leiden”) yang (pastinya) diisi oleh orang Indonesia.

    Mungkin orang-orang itu pada bertanya-tanya kali ya “ini anak betul kuliah di Leiden? Yakin bukan di Tanggul? Kok yang dipost mas-mas mbak-mbak terus ya?”.

    Disclaimer: Saya aktif juga main dengan international students kok, bahkan saya tergabung di grup mahasiswa latin dan sering ikut ke berbagai social events dengan mereka. Saya tidak membatasi diri untuk hanya bergaul dengan orang Indonesia saja, ataupun sebaliknya lho ya.

    Mungkin akan terdengar cliché, tapi bergaul dengan orang Indonesia itu nyaman. Sebagus-bagusnya berbagai kota tua di Eropa dan semewah-mewahnya hotel yang kita tempati selama liburan, pasti akan lebih nyaman rumah sendiri kan?

    Begitupun dalam pergaulan, memang awal-awal kita main dengan international students dari berbagai negara, kita pasti super excited dengar cerita soal negara mereka, tapi lama-lama kangen juga loh dengan lawakan receh.

    Mungkin awalnya kita menikmati hangout minum cantik dan joget ala bule kayak yang banyak diadaptasi muda-mudi di Jakarta, tapi, setiap weekend begitu terus? Kayaknya enakan potluck sama orang Indonesia makan martabak sambil ghibah ala ibu-ibu di tukang sayur deh.

    Mungkin awalnya merasa keren karena sudah melampaui anak jaksel yang bicara Inggris terus, tapi betul deh, bahasa Betawi lebih mantep. Capek loh 24/7 mikir sebelum bicara, enakan juga ceplas-ceplos kayak Reza Chandika.

    Persahabatan di PPI juga merambah sektor domestik, salah satunya saat merangkai kasur mahasiswa yang baru datang. Foto oleh penulis.
    Persahabatan di PPI juga merambah sektor domestik, salah satunya saat merangkai kasur mahasiswa yang baru datang. Foto oleh penulis.

    Untuk poin terakhir berlaku juga lho untuk curhat. Kuliah di luar negeri itu tidak seindah feed Instagram. Di balik foto wisuda senyum dengan ratusan komen “congratulations!” ada banyak keringat dan air mata yang harus di-curhat-kan pada teman. Belum lagi yang keadaannya diperkeruh masalah percintaan. Kasihan melihat mereka yang meraung-raung sambil menyusun tesis (karena tugas akhir tetap tidak bisa dikesampingkan meski galau) tapi tidak bisa curhat lepas karena kendala bahasa.

    Demi itu, buat saya, penting sekali untuk punya wadah dimana kita bisa menjadi diri kita sendiri dan dikelilingi oleh orang-orang yang memang “mengerti” kita. Menurut saya, wadah yang paling tepat untuk itu semua ya PPI. PPI lah yang seharusnya memberikan sedikit rasa “rumah” ke seluruh pelajar Indonesia di luar negeri.

    Odin pernah bilang ke Thor,“Asgard is not a place, it’s a people”. Quote itu bisa juga diterapkan untuk Indonesia. Indonesia juga bukan lokasi geografis, melainkan orang-orangnya. Buktinya ketika saya sedang berkumpul di Leiden dengan orang Indonesia dan bisa ngelawak receh, ghibah, ceplas-ceplos, nyablak, dan makan sesuatu yang “berasa” dan tidak tawar seperti makanan Eropa pada umumnya (sesimple makan kentang pakai Bon Cabe bukan pakai mayonaise), saya merasa di Indonesia kok!

    Salah satu makan bersama dengan mahasiswa Indonesia lainnya. Foto oleh penulis.
    Salah satu makan bersama dengan mahasiswa Indonesia lainnya. Foto oleh penulis.

    Rasa itu lah yang membuat saya bersyukur sudah aktif di PPI Leiden. Menurut saya kepengurusan kami berhasil membawa Indonesia ke Leiden untuk menjadi rumah bagi seluruh mahasiswa Indonesia di sana. Selain itu, memang kami berhasil menyelenggarakan sebuah acara besar yang memperkenalkan kebudayaan Indonesia ke penduduk Leiden dimana seluruh target kami bisa tercapai. Namun, di balik kesuksesan itu ada latihan tari tradisional rutin untuk melepas penat dan sekedar saling curhat, ada perencanaan konsep acara sambil bercanda dan tertawa, ada upaya mencari pengisi acara seniman Indonesia di Belanda sambil bertukar cerita dengan mereka, itu yang penting. Itu lah “rumah” yang berhasil dibawa oleh PPI Leiden untuk seluruh mahasiswa Indonesia, yang lain-lainnya bonus saja.

    Poin penting yang ingin saya sampaikan di sini adalah bahwa kita jangan menilai kegiatan PPI dari kegiatannya saja, melainkan juga dari apa yang terjadi di belakangnya. Betul kegiatan kesenian kami berhasil, tapi yang lebih penting adalah bahwa kami yang terlibat secara tidak disengaja juga masuk ke support system yang tidak hanya mengerti keadaan kami sebagai orang Indonesia tapi juga bisa mengerti permasalahan dan tantangan yang dihadapi oleh masing-masing mahasiswa di kota tersebut.

    Dengan ikut dan aktif di PPI, setiap saya sakit pasti ada saja pesan singkat dari teman-teman PPI yang menanyakan apakah saya baik-baik saja atau apakah butuh obat. Bahkan jika ada teman yang kesulitan merakit tempat tidur atau perlu pindah tempat tinggal pun, pasti banyak teman PPI yang akan membantu. Semua itu dilakukan dengan suka cita sambil bercanda dan bersenang-senang.

    Memang sih saya perlu bersyukur karena PPI saya memang diisi orang-orang yang karakternya cocok dengan saya dan memiliki kegiatan yang sesuai dengan minat saya. Soalnya, salah satu teman saya dari negara lain pernah bilang bahwa PPI di tempat dia kerjanya hanya memanjakan orang Indonesia saja. Mulai dari mencarikan tempat tinggal, sampai menjemput mahasiswa baru di Bandara. Teman saya itu tidak mengerti pentingnya PPI jika kegiatannya hanya begitu saja.

    Bergabung di perkumpulan Indonesia tidak berarti menutup diri dari teman-teman internasional yang lain, lho! Foto oleh penulis.
    Bergabung di perkumpulan Indonesia tidak berarti menutup diri dari teman-teman internasional yang lain, lho! Foto oleh penulis.

    Tapi coba lihat dari sudut pandang lain deh. Orang-orang itu bersedia meluangkan waktu (yang biasanya tidak banyak karena kuliah di luar negeri itu padat) dan tenaganya (setelah begadang berhari-hari untuk mengejar deadline tugas ataupun cicil belajar untuk ujian), untuk membantu mahasiswa baru untuk merasakan nyamannya sambutan dan kemudahan ala “rumah” di tanah rantau. Padahal mereka yang sebetulnya sudah homesick sedangkan anak-anak baru itu baru saja dadah dadah dengan keluarganya.

    Memang sih kesannya seperti terlalu memanjakan, tapi bukankah justru itu lebihnya Indonesia dibanding bangsa lain? Semangat gotong royong kita yang seringkali buat orang asing geleng-geleng kepala (in a good way!) itu lah yang membuat para pengurus PPI merasa perlu membantu saudara-saudara sesama orang Indonesia dalam hal apapun dengan cara apapun juga termasuk dalam proses adaptasi mahasiswa baru.

    Tapi, memang sih beda orang beda preferensi. Ada orang yang memang ingin mencoba jauh dari hal-hal berbau Indonesia selama kuliah di luar negeri supa bisa merasakan dengan maksimal pengalaman hidup di negeri orang dengan membaur dengan para mahasiswa internasional. Ada juga yang memilih untuk fokus berkuliah atau jalan-jalan saja dan tidak mau “terikat” dengan berbagai pertemuan PPI. Tapi ada juga orang yang suka berkumpul dengan sesama orang Indonesia untuk membawa “Indonesia” ke tanah rantau. Selama ada orang-orang terakhir ini, dimanapun kamu berada, Indonesia tidak akan jauh dari dirimu dan kamu dipersilahkan untuk pulang kapan saja kamu mau.


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    There’s an old saying of “men buy shares from Mars and women have a savings account on Venus”, which depicts how Wall Street and the finance industry as a whole used to be an all-boys club. I recently had the pleasure of talking to, Stephanie,  a young female finance student who received multiple sales & trading internship offers from major investment banks. In this piece, we’re going to explore Stephanie’s journey, as one of the aspiring women leaders in finance with an Indonesian background and her advice for women to navigate the world of finance. 

     

    So, Ms. Woman Financier, tell me more about yourself?

     

    I was born in Sydney, Australia and raised in Singapore. My dad is Australian and mum’s Indonesian, our family of four came to Singapore when my dad’s job posting landed in Singapore. Although many would categorize me as a “third-culture child” by my international background, I was raised by my Indonesian mother who was a very strong influence on my personal development — more of which I will elaborate later. I am a proud alumnus of Temasek Polytechnic and I am currently a BBA student at SMU. I like to travel, or to be exact SMU forces you to travel (haha) — I went on short-term exchange at Sungkyunkwan University, South Korea and Universitas Gadjah Mada in my early university years (although I’m still early in my university journey myself). I also love to teach, I tutor privately for primary and international school students.  

    WhatsApp Image 2020-01-04 at 16.44.13

    Stephanie and her UGM exchange classmates in SMU

    Why Finance? Why Trading though specifically?

     

    My mother was involved with the markets at the early stages of her career, but she eventually quit her job to raise my sister and I. She currently stays at home with my sister and I, and she does her investments for a living for several years. My mother’s career path and her astuteness in financial markets have inspired me to become a trader and to focus on global financial markets. 

     

    As my biggest role model and supporter, my mum encouraged me to pursue a career in banking and often brought me to all her banking events, seminars, and speaker series to listen to market talks.  I was very impressed by the way these professionals carry themselves and how they can make their interest in markets a successful career for themselves and others. I signed up for many free courses online to learn the basics of trading, candlestick patterns and joined several groups where people could discuss their own opinions of the market. Being the youngest member, I was fortunate to receive the guidance of many retired traders and learned from their lifelong richened experiences. Hence my polytechnic days were rather fulfilling, as I coped with my studies, I was able to use my time wisely to learn out of the textbook resources, get to meet new people and improve on my financial knowledge. I joined multiple investment clubs and participated in several trading competitions and that was when I was very certain and confident that this path was something I would like to achieve. 

     

    I would say that I am a little different than any of my other female friends back in school. Girls tend to shy away from areas they may not be strong at, and rather focus on the strengths that could be deemed as comfortable for them. However, that was not me, I enjoy challenges in life and I would like to prove to myself I was able to achieve the outstanding results with the continuous effort invested in. I took a different path — I wanted to be in the rigorous and competitive banking industry and have a taste of it. In 2019, I participated in both JPMorgan’s and Morgan Stanley’s trading competition, where I discovered that this was the dynamic environment I wanted to immerse myself in and take my career to the next level through unique experiences. I was offered internships this past fall with JPMorgan and another one this upcoming semester with Morgan Stanley. 

     

    But trading is a… male-dominated career, how did you manage to cope with the environment?

     

     

    There is no doubt that there are elements in the Finance Industry that feels like a “boys club”. It can be very overwhelming, a highly-competitive, fast-paced industry where perhaps females aren’t made to feel welcome and at times, marginalized. Sometimes, another influencing factor that might affect women’s attitude towards finance is that they often feel that they do not meet all the job requirements stated in the job description. Finance and trading particularly involve in-depth analysis, which can make or break a deal, and as a minority, we as females may not feel confident enough to make these kinds of decisions. 

    WhatsApp Image 2019-12-29 at 23.37.40

    Stephanie displaying her Taekwondo skills 

    My background and interests have cultivated me as a young individual. I’m a Taekwondo Dan 2 black-belt holder and have represented my school and club in several Taekwondo Competitions. Taekwondo has taught me and helped me understand the meaning of perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit. Similarly, if you want to “survive” in markets, I have to be sharp and be aware of what’s happening around the world. For me, there’s no better feeling in the world than putting my best efforts, and continuously improving myself to be better than the day before. 

     

    I have a senior female mentor in one of the major banks in Singapore who shared with me that, even in this age of improving gender equality, the gender disparity does not seem very different from her own when she first started trading more than a decade ago. She and I had a similar vision that we should encourage and motivate younger females to exceed in finance. I am an avid participant in several Women in Finance events held by multiple financial institutions in SMU. When I first started my internship, I felt that I had to work harder than the men around me to show my superiors that I was competent for the role. Just starting out, it is not surprising to feel intimidated in a male-dominated industry, hence I have been more than fortunate to take part and join many amazing initiatives that encourage and support women in finance. 

     

    I would say that even though the “male-culture” is evidently strong in finance, the success in this field nowadays is not determined by your gender and not tied to becoming part of the fraternity-like camaraderie. Instead, it relies on one’s consistency, ability to speak your mind with confidence, and one’s own discipline in honing your craft and identifying your edge. 

     

    So you’re an avid supporter for Women in Finance movement?

     

    Yes, I definitely am! You’re working in finance too right and you might see the disparity at the top. What I observe in finance, or in business in general, women make up a tiny fraction of the population at the corporate top — I think the stats are around 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs and 10% of Fortune 500 boards if I’m not wrong.

     

    There is an inherent bias that exists towards women, regardless of consciously or unconsciously. Truth be told, It is still rare to see in females in senior leadership positions in the finance industry. From what I have gathered, some of the barriers faced by these career-driven women might be time and inflexibility of the long hour shifts. Women who have children have to strike a balance between career and family, whereas men are much less limited with their time.

     

    What are the challenges that you think that women, specifically, face in sales and trading?

     

    The barriers for entry into trading are high — and even more so for women, who constantly have to deal with common perceptions of them working in this highly competitive industry. I would point out two key underlying issues:

    WhatsApp Image 2020-01-04 at 16.44.13 (1)

    Stephanie and her exchange friends enjoying Bandung’s sunrise

    Firstly, I’ve seen that the selection process to determine the suitability of a candidate can be somewhat “arbitrary”. The senior traders are primarily men and they tend to look for similar traits as what they have, such as being an aggressive risk-taker, as well as being a logical and analytical “trade ideas” generator. I beg to differ, however, because the skills that separate good and bad traders cannot be pinpointed by simply one particular trait. I believe the key to being a good trader is the ability to stand up for yourself, having a strong justification of what you stand for and identifying your own particular strength, turn it into a trading edge, and employ that edge in a consistent manner.

     

    Secondly, what matters in the global markets is measurable and immediate results — that could be both a good thing and a bad thing. The bad thing is that if certain characters can’t handle that level of stress, she might break down under pressure. I had a female colleague that cried during the course of the trading day because she could not handle the pressure from the harsh trading environment. On the flip side, though, women can rise quickly in trading firms because once you have proven that you can generate profits, your pay and capabilities will probably be equalized with that of your male colleagues from this internship experience, I realized that profit speaks volumes at the end of the day. In trading, contrary to different parts of the bank, as long as you generate enough profit to stay relevant in the business, it does not matter whether you speak up in meetings or if you are keeping yourself “visible” in the workplace or to your superiors. 

     

    The best piece of advice to women inspired to work in finance?

    I believe that there are three key things that I want women to know before venturing into the finance world. 

    WhatsApp Image 2020-01-04 at 16.44.14

    Stephanie in South Korea

    Firstly, you have to be brave enough to take the risk and stand by your opinions and voice out. Yes, it’s true that many will doubt you just because you’re a woman, but at the same time, many women are concerned about what others might perceive them. You must realize that if you have made it into the industry, you are intelligent for who you are, and a worthy asset to the firm and your thoughts carry value.

    Secondly, I am a strong believer in mentorship as well as sponsorship, and I believe that if women were to dive into this profession, they should find themselves a figure that they can look up to and ideally share their ideas, thoughts, and challenges with. I consider myself lucky because I have mentors that gave me wonderful advice before starting out a career in this field. I truly believe that more could be done to promote this awareness to women who are interested to pursue this career. There need to be more mentor and sponsor relationships, both formally and informally between those who “made it” and those who are “still starting”. Of course, those mentors need to keep their minds open and realize mentorship is a two-way learning experience. 

     

    Lastly, you have to be really passionate about what’s driving markets in order to be working in this field. Falling behind others is not an excuse, especially in this fast-paced environment. You should always be kept aware and be updated on what’s happening in the world at your fingertips. Similar to taekwondo, working in this field is a craft that you continuously develop and you’ll learn something new every day. As women, we should be proud of our own capabilities and not be afraid to take up new challenges and fulfill our potential. 


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    Nowadays, many young Indonesians want to study abroad. Aside from the academical degree, there are many things actually to learn while studying overseas. In this article, contributor Wisnu Setia Dharma shares what he learnt from New Zealand, especially from his daily life observation and several values that he obtained. Let’s check it out!

    ***

    As a matter of fact, this country taught me more than I could expect. From the initial aim to learn about how a construction project is managed here, turns out, I received an exquisite intangible life lesson.

    Hi, for you who still have a doubt to study abroad, I hope this article might give you a little boost. Frankly speaking, I didn’t know much about this country (or this city) as well before I came here, even the information of life essentials was not researched intensively (pardon my laziness, blame my job haha). Long story short, I got a friend who gave me pieces of information and earned my tickets through New Zealand Scholarship, Alhamdulillah!

    While there are already many stories about how the scholarship goes, what do they feel of studying here, or how challenging to live here, I’m trying to provide another side of the story. In this article, let me try to tell you what I learn from New Zealand, not from the formal course which I received, but from daily life observation and perhaps some values due to some incidents. Hop-On!

    The art of saying thanks

    How often have you said thank you for the people who were doing their job? And to what extent do you say it? Just one on one conversation or almost shouting?

    As you’ve expected from one country that promotes tourism, the people are relatively more delightful. But, here in New Zealand, I think they are just more.

    Firstly, from an effortless gesture and verbal, they are easy to say “sorry” and “thank you”. For example, they say thank you to the driver whenever they got off from the bus, and they say it loudly (almost shouting) even in the crowded situation. Imagine you were in the bus (let’s say Transjakarta) then you step off at Halte Karet Kuningan at rush hour, from the passenger door you shout “Terima Kasih”, have you ever done that?

    Inside the AT Bus
    Inside the AT Bus

    Well truthfully for me, I have never done that in Transjakarta (sorry!), and because of that reason, I admire what New Zealanders (or Aucklanders specifically) has given me an excellent example to be grateful for merely that little activity. As we know that the drivers were doing their profession and they were getting paid for that, it is just lovely to see how Aucklanders respect their services by saying “Thanks”.

    Secondly, they seem reluctant to make others feel bad. Thus, they say “sorry” quite easily. How easy? Well, for example when you bumped into someone in some packed out situation, let’s say a supermarket, the other person would quickly say sorry without hesitation even though you knew it’s your fault. It just makes you respect people more and more.

    The warmth of tolerance and solidarity

    Around one month since I’ve arrived here, there was a horrible accident that happened while terrorism gunned down the Moslems on 15th March 2019. Despite the gun-law problem which was owned by this country, the people show something I’ve never felt before. Firstly, The PM publicly declared that this horrible act was “a darkest of the day” in New Zealand, it was an act of “terrorism”, and later she said, “the family of the fallen will have justice”. This statement surely gives hope that humanity still exists surpassing the political stance, and it is admirable to see how the government of New Zealand really out some efforts to heal the victim community. After the incident, for about two or three months, the polices spotted guarding every prayer space in Auckland. The focus on victim community enlights me, it brings the memory how many terrorism incidents happened in our beloved country, and yet we focused on the suspect, even almost everyone knew the terrorist name. Yeah, we often forget that the victim should be our priority. Healing them and prevent future incident should be our primary focus. Let the terrorists’ name being forgotten but remember the justice shall be upon them.

    Speak the names of those who are lost, rather than the name of the men who took them” – Jacinda Ardern, dubbed from theguardian.com

    Secondly, as Moslems, we’ve been showed affection which surpasses any religion, ethnicity, and any other differences. At that time, the University of Auckland held a Jum’ah prayer at the university centre as a symbolic act that we are accepted and safe here. Guess what, and the people showed solidarity by “guarding” outside the building where we had a prayer.

    The crowd in front of prayer building
    The crowd in front of prayer building

    Also, there was a long march which justifies that such incident is not accepted in New Zealand. All the people from different ethnicity, different nationality, different religion gathered in Aotea Square (centre of Auckland City). They had a long march to show that all people are accepted, and there is no place for hate here. Frankly speaking, this is the first time I’ve seen such solidarity act.

    The Long March
    The Long March
    Stand Strong Christchurch
    Stand Strong Christchurch

    It’s just too safe to travel

    Boasting its natural beauty, New Zealand promotes tourism by centralising to its nature. However, outdoor activities can be hazardous in some countries. Let’s say due to poor maintenance or insufficient information about it. In contrast, New Zealand did an excellent example of how to manage its natural gifts. I can say it is incredibly safe to travel here, either you drive or hike.

    For driving, since this country applies the right-hand side, Indonesian people will bear less problem in adaptation. However, we need to pay more attention to driving rules here since it’s a bit different from Indonesia. For example, the “give way” sign in the roundabout and one-lane bridge and also the speed limit. Especially for me, I learnt it the hard way by getting stopped by the NZ police two times (which I wasn’t proud of!). Fortunately, the information could be easily retrieved from the website, such as https://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/driving-in-nz/. And as the driver, we shall just obey and don’t try to be edgy (just don’t!)

    Driving to Mount Cook Area
    Driving to Mount Cook Area

    Also, if you keen to hike, there is a clear sign, and a reminder during the hiking, which makes us consider whether we are prepared enough to complete the hike or we shall turn around. Not to mention the safety measure such as bridges and railings are well maintained.

    Updated information regarding the closure
    Updated information regarding the closure
    Sign during the hiking
    Sign during the hiking

    Well-being mindset

    Have you ever been heard about mental health? Truthfully we may experience some mental health issues at some point in our life, whether we like to admit it or not. While in our country, this discussion about mental health is not so widely “acknowledged”, New Zealand put a severe measure to battle it. For example, the University of Auckland stance in well-being concern.

    I am grateful for the opportunity to study in University of Auckland which holds the 1st rank in University impact ranking 2019 by Times Higher Education by scoring a top-notch in Good Health and Well Being Category in Sustainable Development Goals.

    THE University impact ranking (https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/university-impact-rankings-2019-results-announced)
    THE University impact ranking (https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/university-impact-rankings-2019-results-announced)

    Personally, I think this score resembles actual pursue from the university to maintain good health and wellbeing of the students. It doesn’t mean that they make everything easy for you (e.g. exam or assignment). Still, it does mean they make everything is accessible for you to maintain your right states of mind, such as free counselling on university health care or the best lecturer you can talk to.  For example, after the Christchurch incident, most of my lecturers sent an email said that if we were one of the affected students from the incident, we may focus on healing ourself and may submit our assignments anytime we feel we are better. They also encourage us to talk to them if we were worry or having difficulties related to their course during that time. Asking for “excuse” like this is normal and sometimes acceptable in Indonesia as well, but I admire how the university’s effort to reach the students during the difficult times, without any obligations for students to ask for it. They really concern about well-being as well as the academic performance of their students.

    The Construction Industry

    On-Going Construction Project on Sunday
    On-Going Construction Project on Sunday

    Frankly speaking, this is the main reason why I’m here. As a country who faced the risk of natural disaster, it is just fascinating how the construction industry is executed here. Here are some main lessons :

    1. To adapt the rapid transformation and challenges, they adopted agile and lean project management to manage the construction project, thus making the project team more versatile to change while keeping the project within the scope, budget, and time goals.
    2. Overtime could happen, but they usually avoid it, with this mindset every project is planned during the regular working hours and really is achievable
    3. No matter how big or small a project is, the standard and level of project team quality remain high.
    4. Risk of natural disaster is real. Thus they manage it by using state of the art technology (such as BIM) and ensure every project team from managers to labour are understood how the safety standards should be executed.

    In the end, studying abroad is one of the notable milestones of my life journey, aside from the academical degree, there are just way too many things actually to learn while you were here. In term of academic, perhaps Indonesia offers relatively similar materials, but, the intangible lessons from overseas life are solid reasons to be here. So, keen to try? 😊

    ***

    Photos provided by the author 

     

     


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    University summer programmes are perfect for you if you are studying in Indonesia but wanted to get a taste of studying abroad. Not only that you would benefit academically, you would also have the chance to broaden your international network. In this article, Indonesia Mengglobal Contributor Veronika Xaveria shares her experience at Singapore Management University’s Global Summer Programme. This is Veronika’s third article, following her articles on Universitas Gadjah Mada’s double degree programme and on her first year studying at the University of Melbourne.

    ***

    Since I was young, I have always dreamed of studying in Singapore. What motivates me to go to Singapore is the fact that I have both of my siblings studying there. Observing their educational journey, I notice that studying there has never been easy for them. Singapore is undoubtedly a challenging environment; the fast-pace culture, the high standard of education, and the competitive friends surrounding you, which require students to work harder to achieve high target scores. Nonetheless, as a risk taker, I perceive these obstacles as an exciting stepping stone for my personal development. Thus, I set an objective to study in Singapore someday should I have a chance to do so.

    To give you a better understanding of my (not-so-easy) journey, I applied to study in Singapore when I was in Junior High School and Senior High School, where I miserably failed all the application screenings and entrance examinations. However after six years of waiting, I was finally granted a privilege to undertake the Global Summer Programme at Singapore Management University (SMU GSP) in July 2019.

    The journey began when I saw a post from the website of the Office of International Affairs at Universitas Gadjah Mada’s (OIA UGM) about SMU GSP, which offers UGM students an opportunity to study at SMU under the support of Tahir SMU-UGM Management and Faculty Development Programme Scholarship (MFDP). I was excited when I saw the announcement, yet I was worried at the same time regarding my eligibility for this program. I was participating in a double degree program overseas in Melbourne, Australia at the University of Melbourne at the time of application. This means I had to apply remotely by sending all the required documents such as academic transcript, CV, motivation letter, IELTS result, passport, and student cards to OIA UGM and hoping they will accept my application. Surprisingly, I received an email from OIA a few days later saying that I had been nominated by UGM to participate in this program in SMU. A month later, I received an email from SMU stating I was accepted to GSP under the support of full scholarship.

    I arrived in Singapore at the end of June 2019 to join the orientation and city tour before starting my class on Social Entrepreneurship in Asia. To describe my first impression, Singapore is indeed a magnificent place given the way it manages to strike a very delicate balance between green, modern, and global landscape simultaneously.  Singapore is greatly diverse in terms of its diversity in culture, race, and belief. It was really exciting as well to interact with bright-minded students that were selected competitively from all over the world.

    When it comes to classroom activity, I quickly familiarized myself with the learning method and curriculum as participation in class is highly regarded in SMU. Yet, I appreciate the way the curriculum is set as it allows us to critically analyse and collaboratively discuss the cases in the class with people from different background. In fact, I had people who came from different countries in my group such as Australia, United Kingdom, Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, and Indonesia. This further allowed me to develop my cultural awareness and cultural intelligence during the cross-cultural communication process happening at our group meeting.

    Our trip to Bettr Barista
    Our trip to Bettr Barista

    Of course, we did not spend all of our summer in the classroom. We also got to undertake course field trips to companies such as Bettr Barista and ComCrop to learn more about the real life implementation of social entrepreneurship in Singapore. From there, I got valuable key takeaways from my visits such as the salience of creating shared value between the company and the stakeholders, how to fill the institutional void, the way of bringing new actors, and the importance of co-creating the interdependence between problem and solutions. It was insightful as I got to experience the humble odyssey of entrepreneurship.

    Our trip to Google's office in Singapore
    Our trip to Google’s office in Singapore

    In addition to these visits, I was extremely lucky to be allocated company visits to Google and Salesforce AI Research Hub. The world is going through a digital transformation. As such, I am interested in learning and understanding more about technologies and their implication toward the future. The future of work will be really different from now and I noticed that Google and Salesforce do accommodate these changing landscapes by offering exciting workplace environments for their employees.

    Discussing more about my course, Social Entrepreneurship in Asia, I admitted I have no regret to be allocated to that subject even though it was not my first choice. It goes without saying that my Professor, Kenneth Goh, put extra efforts in teaching us in the class and allowed us to challenge his notion in the class. This allows students to go beyond the traditional classroom environment. About the individual assignment, we were required to create a reflective report about “Entrepreneurship is a journey of self-discovery”. Even though it was quite different from the actual research assignment, I preferred this method as it enables me to be more expressive with my own thoughts and contemplate toward the new things that I have learned from the course. While for the group project, we had to make a business plan related to social entrepreneurship in Asia. It was no easy task to brainstorm the idea, especially when our group was first challenged by all of our classmates who claimed that our idea seems to be unrealistic and not feasible to be implemented. Yet, we viewed that as a learning curve and stepping stone for our group to fail fast and quickly refine the idea to be a better one.

    With my group
    With my group

    In the end, we presented our idea of empowering the people in Bali’s villages to clean up the trash in Bali and turn them into 3D Printing Plastic Filament. It was quite challenging for us to completely change the direction of our report. That said, I was grateful to have teammates from diverse educational background from Biochemistry, Medical Natural Sciences, Industrial Relations, Economics and Accounting. This allows my group to stand out when it eventually came to final presentation, in which we managed to be the best group and our presentation was complimented by our Professor.

    Eventually, this wonderful journey had to come to an end and I did not regret allocating a lot of time preparing for my SMU GSP application. Like one idiom states “Banyak jalan menuju Roma” and referring to Winston Churchill’s quote, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts”.  Believe me that patience really does pay off, even if frustration and failure have to be tolerated. Owing to endless support from the people around me, I was finally able to overcome my fear of failure, apply to this program, and live my long-lost dream to study in Singapore.

    ***

    Photos provided by the Author


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  • 01/11/20--00:00: Jadilah Duta Untuk Bangsamu
  • New England Indonesian Festival
    Menghadiri acara komunitas Indonesia “The New England Indonesian Festival (NEIF) 2019”

     

    Beberapa hari yang lalu, seorang teman dari luar negeri berkata padaku “don’t worry buddy, we’ll meet up again soon in Indonesia. it’s a small country, isn’t it?.” Temanku berasal dari salah satu negara di Amerika Selatan dan tahun depan, dia berencana berkunjung ke Bali. Setelah menghela nafas panjang, lalu ku mulai memberi kuliah tentang Indonesia dan pengetahuan geografi kepadanya.  

    “Indonesia membentang sepanjang 5.120 kilometer dari timur ke barat. Bentang itu jauh lebih panjang ketimbang jarak London ke Teheran sejauh 4.403 kilometer. Populasi Indonesia sendiri lebih dari 260 juta”.  Aku yang tinggal di Kalimantan dan jauh dari pusat kota, juga akan cukup lama untuk berkunjung ke Bali. Di akhir perbincangan tersebut, dia berkata “Man! I never knew Indonesia was that big! Thank you for the Indonesia 101!” 

    Lalu kami pun tertawa. Percakapan kami tentu bercanda dan sangat santai. Namun, aku cukup prihatin, bahkan di era yang serba terbuka ini, banyak yang belum tahu tentang Indonesia. Dan ironisnya, kejadian seperti ini bukan pertama kalinya aku dapati saat aku berada di luar negeri. 

    Sebelumnya, perkenalkan, namaku Kunto Nurcahyoko. Sekarang aku mengajar Bahasa Indonesia bagi Penutur Asing (BIPA) di Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University. Aku mengikuti program 2019 Fulbright-Badan Bahasa Foreign Language Teaching Assistant. Selama dua semester, aku mengajar Bahasa Indonesia di Ash Center. Siswaku berasal dari berbagai kalangan, ada yang berprofesi sebagai mahasiswa, dosen, peneliti, dokter maupun dari kalangan umum.  Sebelum ditugaskan di Harvard, aku mengajar Bahasa Inggris di STKIP Pamane Talino Kalimantan Barat.

    Dari kecil, aku sangat suka belajar bahasa. Lahir dan besar di Indonesia, aku yakin kita tidak asing dengan pembelajaran bahasa. Misalnya, aku berbicara Bahasa Jawa kepada orang tuaku di rumah. Saat di sekolah, aku belajar Bahasa Indonesia dan Inggris. Ketika aku bekerja di Kalimantan, aku juga belajar beberapa bahasa lokal suku Dayak Kanayant seperti Bahasa Ahe dan Belangin. 

    Sebenarnya, mengajar Bahasa Indonesia di Harvard membuatku sadar akan banyak hal, salah satunya adalah bahwa pemahamanku tentang Indonesia menjadi sangat penting, terutama bagi siswaku yang belum pernah ke Indonesia. Teman dan siswaku awalnya masih memiliki beberapa miskonsepsi tentang Indonesia. Misalnya, mereka menganggap Indonesia masih sangat konservatif, terbelakang dan semua daerah rawan gempa bumi dan tsunami. Tentu hal ini dikarenakan kurangnya informasi dan interaksi dengan Indonesia. 

    Sebagai orang Indonesia, khususnya diaspora, miskonsepsi semacam inilah yang harus kita luruskan. Saat aku memilih pengajaran bahasa sebagai karir profesionalku, aku merasa bahwa ini adalah kesempatan bagiku untuk mempromosikan Indonesia. Aku sadar bahwa, mengajarkan bahasa tidak cukup hanya dengan mengajarkan struktur bahasa dan kosakata. Salah satu komponen yang justru penting diajarkan adalah pemahaman lintas budaya. Karenanya, aku merasa bahwa saat disini, aku menjadi “duta” negaraku.

    Aku percaya bahwa semua orang Indonesia yang berada baik di dalam dan di luar negeri, merupakan duta bangsa. Dulu, aku berpikir bahwa tugas mempromosikan duta hanya diperuntukkan bagi mereka yang berprofesi sebagai seniman, diplomat, atlet atau ilmuwan yang ada di luar negeri. 

    Namun, semakin aku terlibat dalam pekerjaanku, aku semakin yakin bahwa kita dapat menjadi diri kita sendiri dan menyebarkan informasi tentang Indonesia kepada orang yang ada di sekitar kita. Jika kita sedang berada di negara lain, baik untuk wisata, studi, bekerja atau tujuan lain, kita secara tidak sadar juga menjadi “wajah” bagi negara kita. Jadi, kalau kamu merupakan salah satu diaspora Indonesia, jangan takut dan segan untuk menjadi “duta” Indonesia. Apa saja yang dapat kita lakukan jika kita sedang berada di luar negeri? 

    Pertama, carilah informasi dan bergabung dengan komunitas yang ada di sekitar kita, baik komunitas masyarakat Indonesia atau komunitas lokal. Dengan aktif berpartisipasi dalam kegiatan komunitas, peran kita akan semakin terlihat. Sangat mungkin kalau kita adalah orang Indonesia pertama dan satu-satunya yang mereka temui. Dengan begitu, kita dapat menjelaskan apa yang kita ketahui tentang Indonesia. 

    Selain bergabung dalam kegiatan komunitas, akan sangat disarankan untuk juga mengikuti acara budaya. Ajak teman kita untuk juga berpartisipasi atau sekedar datang ke dalam acara-acara seperti pentas budaya Indonesia dan lain-lain. Bukan menjadi hal yang rahasia kalau Indonesia adalah negara dengan keanekaragaman budaya yang luar biasa. Interaksi budaya seperti ini sangat penting sebagai awal bagi orang di luar negeri mulai berbincang tentang Indonesia.

    Jika kesempatan tersebut susah kita temui atau tidak ada waktu yang cukup untuk mengikuti acara-acara semacam itu, jangan kuatir, masih ada wadah lain yaitu media sosial. Akun Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Blog dan lain-lain merupakan sarana yang cukup ampuh bagi kita untuk mempromosikan Indonesia. Dengan menulis, mengunggah dan menyebarkan informasi tentang Indonesia di akun sosial media yang kita miliki, kita juga juga mempromosikan Indonesia. 

    Nah, kita juga harus mengingat bahwa penjelasan kita harus tetap santun dan tidak menggurui. Kita harus bijak dalam memberikan informasi. Indonesia merupakan sebuah negara dengan tingkat kemajemukan yang sangat tinggi. Karenanya, mendefinisikan budaya dan nilai yang ada di Indonesia menjadi hal yang tidak mudah. 

    Namun, dengan mengutarakan apa yang kita tahu tentang bangsa ini, terutama saat kita menjadi diaspora, kesempatan bagi warga negara lain untuk memahami bangsa kita akan bertambah. Jadi, jangan kuatir, kita tidak harus menjadi diplomat, duta seni atau pekerja profesional untuk menjadi seorang duta Indonesia. Siapapun dirimu, jadilah duta untuk bangsamu.

    2019 Bazaar Indonesian Community of New England
    Berpartisipasi dalam acara Komunitas Indonesia – 2019 Bazaar Indonesian Community of New England (ICONE) di Boston

     


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    If you think Indonesian students abroad only think about grades and fun, think again. PPI Spanyol (Indonesian Students Association in Spain) wanted to do more than just holding gatherings and dance sessions, they held a conference on International Relations where international delegates shared their insight on ASEAN and published insightful papers for the world to know. Our contributor, Mahir, shared about the eventful festivities.

    Studying far away from their home country does not restrain Indonesian students in Spain to gather and successfully organize an international academic forum. PPI Spanyol (Indonesian Students Association in Spain), for example, hosted the International Conference on ASEAN Studies (ICOAS)  back in March 2018. This conference was inspired by ASEAN’S 50th anniversary and the long journey in which the members have implemented related cooperation and achieved their goals together.

    ICOAS was not an internal event. In fact, the conference was organized under the collaboration of PPI Spanyol, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, and the University of Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta. The international conference that took place on March 20th to March 24th 2018 was also supported by Indonesian Embassy in Madrid, Spain, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and One Asia Foundation.

    Featuring the main theme ‘Re-reading Southeast Asia: a multi-perspective approach’, the conference featured the General Director for ASEAN Cooperation, Jose Antonio Morato to present his keynote speech. HE Philippe Jones Lhuillier, the Philippines’ Ambassador in Spain, was also present at the event.

    The highlighted topics we discussed were the development of ASEAN and the potential of the region from various perspectives, including how to strengthen and deepen the ASEAN cooperation and the emergence of new sea issues in the region and its impact on members’ dynamic and cooperation.

    We also discussed the region’s political economy and social cultural challenges. For these two topics, delegates submitted their scientific written article and presented their findings to the public. From there, a total of 42 scientific articles were to be published by Universidad Autonoma de Madrid (UAM) Publishing House and Journal of International Relations of Universitas Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta, which recently received recognition in the ASEAN quotation index.

    The conference was concluded with a high hope that ASEAN will continue its cooperation and become more open to  new insights and solutions that might benefit the members. But  it was  not all  work and no play. The conference was closed  by a day tour to Toledo for its delegates and committee members.

    The conference was not the only intellectually-provoking  events that PPI Spanyol worked on. In January 2019, the organization held career and skill sharing session with notable alumni in January 2019.  They also held several  thematic webinar sessions on development issues. PPI Spanyol also participated in multiple  cultural events, including Festival  Internacional de Culture held by Korean Women’s International Network in Madrid; joined a roundtable with Indonesian Ministry of Higher Education and Research to discuss the future of Indonesia’s education; joined the worldwide PPI international symposium in Moscow in July 2018; and many more. If you’re studying in Spain and want to learn more about PPI Spanyol, please visit https://ppispanyol.org

     


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    Japan’s IT scene has been making headlines all over the world. However, beyond the global giants with the likes of Softbank, Amazon, IBM, the other names are either unheard of, or we simply do not know enough about their reputation. In this piece, I’ll walk you through my personal observation that I’ve accumulated through the year I spent exploring jobs in the IT industry in Japan. For your reference, I primarily speak as someone who’s doing a non-developer job in the tech industry. This piece is written primarily for people who are still within their first 5 years of professional experience, people with non-IT background who are thinking of shifting industry, or students looking to land their first job in Japan’s IT companies.

    Photo by Timo Volz on Unsplash
    Photo by Timo Volz on Unsplash

    The million-dollar question: Is the IT industry still very Japanese? Or is it so international?

    I’ll go ahead and say, there is no clear-cut answer for this one. If you look at two different cities, two different companies, even two different units within one company, I’ve heard very different stories about the working environment inside the company. Just because it’s a multinational brand or it’s a bigger name, it doesn’t guarantee a more internationally-minded working environment. I don’t mean to confuse you–in fact, I think my answer simply says that there are countless possibilities in Japan. You just have to know what you look for, and be very precise where you can find it.

    Having worked in the financial industry in Singapore, I was looking for a similar fast-paced, meritocracy-driven, international environment in Japan. Unsurprisingly I turned to the tech industry, because of the rapid growth and the international community that this industry has created in Japan. The first thing I learnt is that everything is completely attainable, yet only made accessible to selected job seekers who demonstrated the capacity to speak Japanese in professional capacity (ie to conduct sales meetings, pitch business, make simple phone calls). The rule doesn’t really apply to any type of specialized engineering role, so I’d say, software developers can continue their search without this additional requirement. 

    During the interviews I had with a few startups and consulting firms which were all conducted in Japanese, it was very clear that despite having account management experience in Singapore, I would not be able to do any similar role in Japan because I was not coherent enough in any formal verbal conversation. I had a few discussions with entry-level job seekers and to be honest, the Japanese language requirement is harsher than in the experienced-level recruitment. It is not surprising because Japan has seen a massive boom of young international students who either enroll in language school or enroll in Japanese universities, plus the children of Japanese expatriates who finish their study abroad and return to Japan to look for jobs, making bilingual ability almost seems to be like a requirement for competitive jobs.

    Where can I find the more internationally-minded crowd?

    This was exactly my agenda during my own job hunting period in 2019 and since the memory is still very clear, these are the three advice I would give. 

    Know exactly what you want and the trade-off you’re willing to make to get it.

    If you want the same salary as you got in your previous job before, it’s interesting why you choose to work in a country with a high individual income tax, unless you’re set here on an expat package. If salary is a secondary priority, what is the primary one? A transferable skill-set which offers you a lifetime of mobile career so you can work from anywhere in the world? A local expertise which is valuable in any kind of business who’s investing in Japan? The first and the second goal tends to be a trade-off, in my experience. If your career goal is to hone up your Japanese skill to reach professional level, know that you don’t always have to take a career break and enroll in language school. I am somewhat lucky because my current company hires mostly foreigners and uses English primarily, but during my interview I put up my hand and told them I’m willing to work together with them in any Japanese project. Two weeks into the job I was given the opportunity to handle a project with an important Japanese client and I’m also allocated a certain budget to hire professional Japanese teacher. Most companies are not like that but if we continue to think in terms of ‘most companies’, we’ll be missing out companies who don’t fit into that stereotype. 

    liam-burnett-blue--qwEUsg7UbI-unsplash

    Know which companies are right for you.

    There are a lot of IT jobs in Japanese branch of multinational companies. But think about how the company ended up opening a branch in Japan. Whether they bought a local partner and rebranded it or they sent their own teams to build a new office, it determines the company culture. Are you open to startups? Which type of startups are right for you? Go to networking events and talk to any employee of the company. If that one person can’t help you, she/he can point you in the direction of the people who could. Tokyo Dev, Tokyo Tech Startups, Women Who Code, Machine Learning Tokyo, Code Chrysalis, Tokyo Fintech Meetup, Coral Capital and Venture Cafe Tokyo are some of the resources/communities I’ve either interacted with or known someone who did, who invest a lot to grow a beneficial, like-minded communities. Be mindful of the people you approach, though. Some people have an interest in just selling you the job, some people genuinely want to see others land a job they’re suitable of, so don’t confuse one with another. Consider Japan-only networking sites like Wantedly (which is helpful because it removes the whole indirect, mid-layer recruiters and you get to talk to the company representatives directly) and Bizreach.

    Invest in a strong and genuine relationship with your network. 

    If there is anything Japan has taught me well, it is that I’ve been taught the true value of investing in my network. At first it was really difficult for me because I never really had any issue finding connection or a place to belong in all the places I lived in before. In Japan, I had to learn how to convey trust and likemindedness in the first few minutes, and similarly, I had to learn how to identify a mutually beneficial network from others. Honestly, it was easier than I imagined, because I did overthink a lot of my actions. A lot of non-Japanese and also Japanese who don’t really subscribe to the conventional values have a lot in common and can connect very quickly, so it’s always a good place to start. Be kind and welcome people with open arms. Ask everyone, how can I help you? How can I be of value to you? Japan is a huge country and the international community has always enjoyed a better living and working experience in Japan by helping each other, especially one’s career. 


    Author’s note: I currently work as a Project Manager for Gengo, now a Lionbridge company. My opinion is solely mine and this article is not sponsored by any means. My Linkedin profile is here.


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