An online magazine of news and opinions from the Asia New Zealand Foundation

Business intern learns to adapt and "go with the flow" in Jakarta

Business intern Evie Wallace reports in from Jakarta about the first half of her business internship with engineering and management consultancy company Beca.

Evie at a viewing platform with hills in the distance

Before I came to Jakarta for my internship at Beca, an Engineering Consulting firm, they warned me that it wasn’t a touristy place – and they were right.

Jakarta is unlike many other big cities I have travelled to before in Asia, most notably due the lack of footpaths and unpredictable weather making it quite a hard place to explore on foot.

However, Beca provided such a welcoming environment that I felt very settled, even after only a few days here, and Indonesia is such a diverse country with many places available for weekend escapes. 

I have actually worked with Beca before (in the Christchurch office for a summer internship), so it has been a great opportunity for me to see how the company operates over here and observe how the New Zealand and Asia employees share and collaborate work.

The Jakarta office is comprised of about 100 people and an office-wide meeting is held once a month to bring everyone together to talk about various happenings and updates of the business.

Evie Wallace in a factory with machinery behind her

I experienced one of these meetings in my first week, and despite only understanding half of it (the other half was spoken in Bahasa), it was one of the most energetic and happy work meetings I have ever been in.

There was a lot of support for coworkers who were presenting updates or getting awards, and there was a lot of laughter.

I am based in the Industrial section in the office, and an interesting part of my work has involved helping with business development for the food and beverage projects.

I am rapidly gaining an understanding of how important connecting with people and sustaining relationships is to successful business in Asia.

Alongside my regular work, I have had the chance to try out virtual reality equipment and go on site at a factory where they were doing some construction. The ability to get out of the office and see/be involved with a range of different projects is something I really enjoy about the consulting industry.

In my first week, I found out one of my favourite bands, The xx, were touring here, and I jumped at the chance to go to the concert. Typical Jakarta – picture grabbing dinner and a beer right before a gig, when it starts raining torrentially and you find yourself huddled under a small covered ledge with some 500 other concert goers.

We met a girl at this concert and exchanged numbers – she offered to take us around if we travelled to her hometown Bandung. This is not at all out of the ordinary for Indonesian people – I am continuously grateful for the friendly and generous nature of the people here.

One of the things I am loving about Indonesia is how easy it is to travel! So far, I have spent weekends in Singapore and Yogyakarta, and am soon off to Bali and Krakatau.

I wouldn’t feel I was making the most of being here if I wasn’t seeing a few different parts of the country! It’s so much harder to do this at home with New Zealand being so isolated.

Yogyakarta had some incredible sights. I watched the sunrise from Borobudur, the largest Buddhist temple in the world, and wandered undisturbed through some amazing temples at the Prambanan site. The city had a relaxed, arty vibe and was a welcome short retreat from Jakarta!

Evie at a viewing platform at a temple with forest-clad hills in the distance

Ultimately, a learning curve here has been exercising patience – flights will be delayed, you can’t predict how long you’ll spend in traffic, or even how long you’ll spend in the line at the supermarket!

I have learnt that things happen at their own pace and things tend to turn out quite different from what you expect. In Indonesia, it’s important to go with the flow and be adaptable to change.

I look forward to embracing what the second half of this internship (and life in Jakarta) will throw at me over the next four weeks.

In retrospect, I think my time here will feel like it has gone very quickly but, regardless, I know I will return to New Zealand with new friendships, new knowledge and a widened perspective of the world we live in.

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7 March 2018